Fryslân (Friesland) is one of the 12 Dutch provinces which lies in the northern part of The Netherlands and has Leeuwarden as capital city. Fryslân includes several islands as well, with Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog as the most famous ones.
For this trip I didn't go to the islands, but stayed on the mainland to 'Discover the Dark' as Fryslân has something special which no other province in The Netherlands has!
There are 76 certified Dark Sky Parks in the world, and two of them are situated in Fryslân (De Boschplaat and Lauwersmeer). I went to National Park Lauwersmeer to experience it myself and was very impressed by what I've seen.
But before this nocturnal adventure could take place we went to the city of Franeker, one of the eleven historical cities of Fryslân. Close to the City Hall (which dates back from 1594) lies one of the most interesting museums of the area, hidden in an eighteenth century canal house.
In this canal house it is possible to learn more about our solar system and admire the oldest working planetarium (orrery) in the world. It is built out of wood by Eise Eisinga between 1774 and 1781 in the ceiling of his own living room. In my opinion it is very impressive to see how this scale model still runs accurately like clockwork for the last 239 years...
After your visit you can once more take a step back in time at the Brasserie De Stadstuin which is located next door to the Planetarium. The art nouveau interior is left untouched since a coffee-roasting house opened its doors here in 1881.
Afterwards we went to Aerden Plaats in Oude Bildtzijl for an awesome dinner. Not only because of the food, but as well because of the unique location. This former church, along a dike in the middle of the Fryslân countryside, was the perfect setting for a cosy dinner. Here we got a prelude for Verhalenavond which will take place in many cities and towns in Fryslân on the 15th of November. It is a tribute to the old days where people got together in living rooms and cafes to tell each other stories. I think it is a beautiful initiative to revive these traditions and to keep them alive.
At 22:00 we stepped (without a flashlight!) into the darkness of Dark Sky Park Lauwersmeer. Jaap (a guide form Staatsbosbeheer) guided us through the forest, and in the meantime he told us a lot about our impressive galaxy and pointed out several groups of stars. After a couple of minutes my eyes adapted to the lack of light and I started to see more and more stars. Even the Milky Way was very clear to see! For me it was the first time to walk through a forest with only the light of stars and the moon. And it actually felt like quite a liberating experience. I took this picture with a slow shutter speed, high ISO and wide aperture.
See my blog post 'Terschelling in 48 hours' to read about my experience at Dark Sky Park 'De Boschplaat'.
Waking up early has its perks! As this weekends theme was 'Discover the Dark' I got up early to roam the empty streets of Dokkum before sunrise. At daybreak this boat looked extra stunning because of the reflections of the lights.
Just after sunrise I went back to the B&B for a delicious breakfast.
I've stayed at B&B 't Gastenhuysje, a cosy and stylish room with a private terrace in front of it. Breakfast is served at the room in a picnic basket.
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Read my 'Leeuwarden in 24 hours' blog post here!
Please note: I was invited by Friesland to be part of the kick-off event of 'Discover the Dark'.
Check out their website here to find their upcoming events about this (and other) theme(s).