Schiermonnikoog

Travel Guide Europe Netherlands Friesland Schiermonnikoog

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Introduction

Schiermonnikoog is one of the Wadden Islands and part of the province of Friesland. Being the smallest of these islands, there is only one small village on this island. However, if you enjoy nature and don't mind the absence of any real night life, Schiermonnikoog is possibly the most beautiful of them all.

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History

The earliest mention of Schiermonnikoog in writing dates from October 1440, in a document written for Philip the Good. The island's first known owners were the monks of Klaarkamp Abbey, a Cistercian monastery near Rinsumageest, on the mainland. "Monnik" means "monk", "schier" is an archaic word meaning "grey", referring to the colour of the monks' habits, and "oog" translates as "island". The name Schiermonnikoog can therefore be translated as Grey Monk Island.

Around 1700, the population of Schiermonnikoog was divided among four villages or settlements. The largest of these was Westerburen, which had developed around the medieval buildings of the grey monks. In 1717 and 1720, storms flooded Westerburen, which had to be abandoned around 1725, because of drifting sand and the advancing sea. In 1756 a new town, named Oosterburen, was built to the east. Nowadays this second village is named Schiermonnikoog, after the island. Also in the 18th century the people of the island rebelled against Lady Catharina Maria Stachouwer, and the States of Friesland sent troops to protect her and to restore law and order.

In 1892 Banck sold the island to a German count, Hartwig Arthur von Bernstorff-Wehningen. The count died in 1940, upon which his son Bechtold Eugen Graf von Bernstorff inherited Schiermonnikoog. That same year, during the Second World War, KLM briefly provided passenger and postal services to Schiermonnikoog and nearby Ameland, landing its Douglas DC-3s on the beach. In May the Germans invaded the Netherlands, and the Wehrmacht occupied the island, but Bernstorff ensured that the islanders were largely left in peace.

During the War, the German Army heavily fortified the island as part of the Atlantic Wall defence line, and the number of German troops came to equal the island's native population of 600. Towards the end of the war, hundreds of SS troops, along with members of the SD, fled to the island, reinforcing the German contingent already there.

After the German surrender, the Germans on the island failed to accept the surrender, but the Canadian forces responsible for the sector that included the island did not attack them to force their surrender. After several weeks of negotiations the German commander did agree to respect the surrender and the German soldiers were evacuated to Wilhelmshaven in Germany. On 11 June 1945 the island became the last part of Europe to be liberated from Axis occupation by the Allies.

After the War, the Dutch government confiscated Schiermonnikoog from Bernstorff on the grounds that he was German and owned the island during the war, making it 'enemy property'. In 1949 the island became an independent municipality and part of the Province of Friesland. Bernstorff died in 1987 and is buried on Schiermonnikoog in the graveyard of its Reformed Church.

On 1 January 2006 the eastern border of the island was moved eastward, farther into the former territory of the municipality of Eemsmond in the province of Groningen, for which Eemsmond received compensation of about 30,000 euros. This was done so that the municipal government of Schiermonnikoog would have the ability to respond from its own territory in the event of a calamity or disaster.

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Cities

The only town on the island is also called Schiermonnikoog.

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Sights and Activities

Conch museum, Martjeland 14, ☎ +31 519 531663. 15:00 – 17:00 & 20:00 – 22:00. Conchs and other maritime animals from the beaches of the island Adults € 2,00, Children (-12) € 1,00.

While staying here, you will probably spend some time at the beach.

During low tide, you can (and should!) cycle to the uninhabited eastern part of the island and back in one day. This part of the island is continuously growing and shrinking throughout the years due to the interplay of sand deposits and erosion, resulting in a very typical vegetation consisting mostly of pioneer plants. The first part of the trip has a good bicycle path, the second (perhaps most beautiful) part doesn't, and can only be explored at low tide. And even at low tide, you'll probably have to walk part of the way if you want to get all the way to the eastern point.

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Getting There

A ferry runs several times a day from Lauwersoog in the Hogeland region, the schedule can be found on the website of operator Wagenborg. You pay only for the trip to the island, you don't have to pay again for the return trip - since there is only one ferry service, everyone on the boat back is assumed to be their customer anyways! Bus lines 50 to/from Leeuwarden and 163 to/from Groningen connect with most ferries departures and arrivals, schedules can be found at http://9292.nl/en.

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Getting Around

Except for residents with a special permit, cars are not allowed on Schiermonnikoog! By far the best option is to use a bicycle. You can either take one with you on the ferry or rent one when you arrive (pre-booking available on http://www.fietsenverhuurschiermonnikoog.com/, select "Veerdam" as a pickup location), they are affordable and decent quality. The island is not very big anyway, so getting around by bike will not be a problem. A few bus lines connect the village of Schiermonnikoog with arriving/departing ferries, and run only every few hours.

Maps and information on where to stay can be obtained at the VVV Schiermonnikoog (tourist office), Reeweg 5 (www.vvvschiermonnikoog.nl).

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Eat

  • Kwalitaria De Halte, Reeweg 4, ☎ +31 519 531256. Depending on the season. Dutch snacks and ice-cream
  • Strandpavillon De Marlijn, Prins Bernhardweg 2, ☎ +31 519 531397. from 10:30 kitchen 11:00 – 16:30 kitchen may close early on slow or rainy days.

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Sleep

  • Hotel van der Werff, Reeweg 2, ☎ +31 519 531203, +31 519 531233, e-mail: hotelvanderwerff@chello.nl. Room with breakfast € 52,50.
  • Pension Westerburen, Middenstreek 32, e-mail: pension@westerburen.nl. room with breakfast € 33.
  • Herberg Rijsbergen, Knuppeldam 2, ☎ +31 519 531257, e-mail: info@rijsbergen.biz. single from € 56; double from € 82, triple from € 114; quadruple from € 140.
  • Hotel Restaurant Ambrosijn, Langestreek 13, ☎ +31 519 720261, e-mail: info@ambrosijn.nl.
  • Hotel Graaf Bernstorff, Reeweg 1, ☎ +31 519 532000, +31 519 531233, e-mail: hotel@bernstorff.nl.
  • Hotel Duinzicht, Badweg 17, ☎ +31 519 531218, e-mail: info@hotelduinzicht.nl.

Campsites

  • Camping "Seedune", Seeduneweg 1, ☎ +31 519 531398. 1.4. – 1.10. adults € 6,80; children (-10) € 4,20; tent € 3,00, folding tent € 4,00; one time environmental charge € 1,00; reservation fee € 5,00.
  • Camping-Bauernhof "De Branding", Heereweg 2, ☎ +31 519 531557.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés are not as widespread as you would expect, but you can easily find one in the popular cities. Most hostels, hotels and camp sites have several computers, so you can keep connected with folk at home. Here is a list of internet cafés that could come in handy for travellers. Otherwise, most libraries have lots of computers and prices are around the €2-3 per hour range, although sometimes it can be even more expensive.

Wireless internet access using wifi is becoming more popular and is usually available at most hotels and increasingly at train stations. Also in trains (at least in most first class wagons, but also more and more in second class) and some buses you can use wifi. Finally, places like McDonald's and Starbucks have free wifi, and smaller individual business like cafés and restaurants are on the rise too offering these services. More often than not, these service tend to be free of charge, though there might be a limited time you can use the internet.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country code for the Netherlands is 31. The outbound international prefix is 00. The general emergency number is 112, like many other countries.
0800 numbers are toll-free and for 09xx numbers are charged at premium rates. Mobile phones have numbers in the 06 range, and calls to cell phones are also priced at higher rates.

From internet cafés, it is also usually possible to make long distance international calls. Like in other countries, telephone booths have almost disappeared, though some are still found around public transport stations, where you can use a few coins to make calls. It is only recommended for local calls.

The cellular phone network in the Netherlands is GSM 900/1800. The main providers of cell phone networks are KPN (Dutch only), T-mobile and Vodafone, who cover the whole country. Other operators, like Hollandsnieuwe, Simyo or Tele2, use one of these 3 networks basically.

It is best to buy a SIM card when in the Netherlands for use in your cellphone, as this usually works out cheaper than using the one from home. If you are planning to study or work in the country and stay for several months, buying a cellphone is the best option. A simple one, sometimes with €10 worth on it, can be bought from around €25. The simplest smartphones are around €75.

Post

The rate for sending a postcard or letter up to 20 grams within the Netherlands is €0.64 (2014). Since 2010 there are stamps available for domestic post which no longer include the value in €. Instead, there are stamps available with either a '1' or a '2' as a substitute for value. The '1' can be used for letters and postcards up to 20 grams, while 20-50 grams require you to use the '2'-valued stamps (or two '1'-valued stamps of course).

Sending items to other EU countries and the rest of the world (there is one price since 2014) will cost €1.05. Stamps are sold at post offices, supermarkets and smaller shops/kiosks; often the place where you buy your postcards can also supply you with stamps.

Sending parcels abroad is more costly. A standard-sized parcel between up to 2 kilograms will cost you €9 for destinations within the EU and €18 (both without Track & Trace) to the rest of the world. Prices with Track & Trace start at €13 and €24.30 respectively. Parcel service is available from major post offices only; standard-size boxes are on sale there as well. For sending parcels, it might be just as competitive and fast to use a company like TNT, UPS or DHL.

If you need to receive mail while moving around, you can have it sent poste restante (to be called for) to a post office of your choice, where it will be kept for a month. If you come to claim it, bring a valid ID, and make sure to have told the sender that the name on the envelope must be an exact match with that in your passport. For addresses of post offices, as well as more information, consult the TNT website.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 13:50 on Sep 19, 18 by Utrecht. 6 articles link to this page.

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