Europe | Netherlands
June 13, 2008
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2006, Tuesday 25 July: Terschelling, Friesian Islands, Netherlands

Heartbreak Hotel

An all-American diner on a bleak North Sea island miles off the Dutch coast. It’s a brave concept, but Heartbreak Hotel pulls it off with chutzpah and acres of lipstick-pink paint.

Of course, even the North Sea has its moments. During the week I spent on the Friesian island of Terschelling the thermometer climbed above 75 degrees every day. (I just about found space in my heart to pity the poor huddled masses on the Med, who were then enduring unseasonable rain and chill.)

Terschelling's north shore is a 30 km line of fine white sand; at low tide the beach is hundreds of metres wide. Stilted wooden cafés – strandpaviloenen – rear up at regular intervals along the high tide mark: Heartbreak Hotel is the remotest.

When I saw the name on the map I knew I had to visit. I wasn't to be disappointed - the scene on arrival was quite the tropical paradise. My overwhelmingly Dutch fellow-holidaymakers - in the main, dauntingly beautiful blonde families - were engaged in windsurfing, kite-flying and other such hearty out-of-doors activities (as well as the obvious sun-bathing).

But with a 12 km cycle-ride from Terschelling’s main village behind me, I felt unabashed simply sitting on the wooden deck with a steaming bowl of mussels, side order of frieten (heavy on the mayo) and bottle of cold Belgian beer.

Elvis was on the juke box, the sun was in the sky, and for the rest of the day I had nothing to do. Very heaven.

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