Jump to content

A (bike) journey through time: Expeditie Oerpolder

For many of us international and city-dwellers of the TopDutch region, it can be easy to get stuck in our own busy metropolitan lives. Do you want to discover what life was like for (former) residents of the Frisian polder landscape, and enjoy an active, stunning day out at the same time? Expeditie Oerpolder is an intriguing journey through time.

History via technology

Get on your bike!

The 10km cycle route between the historic town of Workum and the peaceful rural village of It Heidenskip is one of tranquil beauty; trailing through farming-landscape, next to water and dykes, and offering the best country air TopDutch has to offer. Expeditie Oerpolder encourages you to get out and explore the landscape on your bike, and also explore the history of the region with thirteen resting points. In each of these resting points, you can hear the stories of (former) residents of the region, what life was like for them, the happy stories and the hardships, all in their own words.

Through the use of the digital platform Izi.travel, you can follow the pre-designed route on your smartphone. When you reach one of the stopping points, you can hear new stories, anecdotes and sounds from the locals. The sections are introduced by your local guide Douwe, a character played by actor Thijs Feenstra. After that, you’ll hear a tale from famous local storyteller, Hylke Speerstra who is known for his oral-history book of the region ‘De Oerpolder’, which was the inspiration for this project. Hylke will tell you his personal favorite anecdotes or history facts about the landscape, and then you’ll get a new story from a resident.

The human touch

Heartwarming, moving tales

The special thing about Expeditie Oerpolder is that alongside the big, historical events of the region is the human touch of those who lived them. Jorrit Brenninkmeijer, initiator of Expeditie Oerpolder told the Friesch Dagblad ‘the big events are often the first ones to be recorded, whilst the smaller ones sometimes say much more about who we are as people’. At one point, for example, you can hear the tales of an 86-year-old woman, whose parents were shopkeepers in the village of It Heidenskip. Through her, we can not just hear the facts of what has happened in the region, but truly get a good picture of what life was like in the Frisian countryside 70 years ago.

Another amazing tale is one told by the granddaughter of a traditional farming family in the region. During the second world war, her family had built a strong connection with an American soldier, who was seeking refuge in their house. He was so grateful for the family to allow him to hide there, he’d named his daughter after her mother, but this was the first time she’d dared to tell the tale.

Expeditie Oerpolder was created as a part of the Leeuwarden/Friesland Capital of Culture 2018. In the year and a half since it was available, over 5,000 people have enjoyed the tales of the locals. Do you want to join in? Expeditie Oerpolder will be available, free of charge, up to and including 2020. It’s in the Dutch language, so good for Dutch-speaking TopDutch residents, or those internationals who want to practice their Dutch in a fun way! You can download the audiotour on the Izi.Travel platform here.

Sign up to the newsfeed

TopDutch International

The TopDutch International newsfeed curates the most important industry developments and newest key stories, along with weekly talent profiles and lifestyle weekend guides. And we’ll make sure you’re first to receive exclusive regional event invites.