There’s something for everyone and everything for someone at Oerol

Last weekend, Hubs and I dropped Turner off at the in-laws’ and we headed to the island of Terchelling for the Oerol Festival! This was a first time for both of us.

We left on Friday and caught the Ferry from Harlingen to Terchelling with some friends. It was a delightful (albeit windy) 2-hour trip, complete with a restaurant and a terrific view from the deck of the boat. Along the way, we celebrated the 1st birthday of the little boy I babysit! Although he made it clear that it was not his day (apparently, being 1 is not easy), he ended up with some pretty cool presents.

Two more friends were waiting for us when we got off the boat. We left our luggage at the free luggage transport area, got our rental bikes and cycled about 30 minutes to our hotel. The cycle was absolutely gorgeous! The island is covered in grassy dunes and many of the bike paths were made of crushed sea shells. We passes small villages and farms and lots of green! Although there were an estimated 30,000 people visiting the island for the Festival, it was surprisingly quiet!

We got to the hotel where we had rented two apartments: families in one and childless adults in the other. Much to Hubs’ delight, we got the apartment with the sauna and the bedroom with the TV! We dined on pannenkoeken (Dutch pancakes) courtesy of and then headed off to see out first show!

The whole weekend consists of theatre shows and you find stages everywhere! Therefore, it’s incredibly experimental and many times, we could only say if we liked something or not because it was so avant garde, we weren’t quite sure exactly what we saw. The show we saw that night though was my favorite and surprisingly enough, Hubs really enjoyed it too! It was set in a hotel, where the manic hotel owner sends a ghost out to conjure up a storm, bringing several unlikely characters into the hotel seeking shelter. The hotel owner tries to force them into happiness as they interact with each other, move the wheeled set about the stage, and sing old country western tunes to a band dressed like ZZ Top. The whole thing was very international: a Serbian woman who spoke both Serbian and English, a German woman who played the entire show in her native language, a Belgian guy (spoke Dutch, but, for me almost impossible to understand because my vocabulary’s not stellar and I’m not used to the Belgian accent), and a Polish guy and a Latino who spoke only English. Interesting concept, fantastic incorporation of all the nationalities, fascinating movement choreography, fun songs, and an intensely cool set.

Saturday’s plan was to head to the far east end of the island in the morning to catch a dance show. Along the way, we were treated to the creativity behind Oerol stages. One was in a stream (there was a bed, doors, chairs, etc sitting directly int he water), another seemed to span the length of an entire trail, there was one that was a field filled with doors, and one built into the side of a sand dune! After 45 minutes of cycling, we reached the beach only to find that we had cycled about 15 minutes too far and missed the show. So instead, we spent some time along the beach and then camped out at Heartbreak Hotel (my Elvis-obsessed husband was so excited!) for several drinks and lunch. At 3 we had another show done by a group of touring Frenchies! The show was done in English as the French typically don’t speak Dutch and the Dutch typically don’t speak French, but they’re both pretty fluent in English. A bit long (especially since we were sitting on our butts in the middle of a parking lot), but funny with really cool sets. It was essentially a merry-go-round of boats, scooters, cars, and planes that were later taken off and brought on individually as different set pieces. The gist of the show was that someone had taken the last liter of petrol and the actors were determined to find it while discovering alternative means – some great, some not so great, and some just plain ridiculous – of fuel. Very cute. That night, Hubs and I left the group to hang out with my American friend and her Dutch partner. We had a great time hanging out, having dinner, and drinking copious amounts of beer! Finally at 12:30, our friends headed back to the camp ground and Hubs and I headed to the apartment for bed!

Sunday was gross weather-wise. It rained that morning, but stopped for our early afternoon show of Hendrick Jan de Stuntman. Hilarious. The beginning was entirely  interactive with the audience in a cage of sorts and the 2 actors stomping around above us. Via text message, we were able to vote on what kind of show we wanted to see: philosophical or pointless. They divided the audience by what they wanted to see and each actor took their group upstairs to see their show. After some silly slapstick and arguments over top the curtain dividing the two groups, they decided to tear down the curtain and do a pointless philosophical show which was basically a series of stunts with snippets of quotes from famous philosophers. Afterwards we met up with the rest of the crew for drinks and then headed off to the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. First of all, it rained the entire show. Secondly, while following the “Actors” down the other side of the dyke, I slipped on the wet grass right into sheep dung. Then, they took us to an exposition of wind that made no sense and was more creative than scientific. We all hated it. Then back to the apartment where Hubs hit up the sauna while I took a hot bath (and cleaned my pants) and then we met the group for a lovely dinner.

On Monday, we headed out. On the way back to the ferry, we went through the village and past the light house at the center of the island. We turned in our bikes, reclaimed our luggage and boarded the ferry back to Harlingen.

Hubs and I loved it so much that we’re definitely going next year and bringing Turner! And apparently in celebration of the colonies acquiring New York from the Dutch, there’s going to be a similar festival held in New York this September. If you can, I would totally recommend going to see it! Details.

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