Container living? It might sound dismal, but can actually be cool.
As you might know, I like quirky and unusual accommodations. So when I was given a chance to sleep in a shipping container, well, I couldn’t turn it down, could I…
Outside Den Haag (The Hague) is Scheveningen, famous for its long sandy beach, its pier, its esplanade and its nudists.
Not unexpectedly, windsurfing and kiteboarding are very popular activities on these windy North Sea shores. That brings us to F.A.S.T. (Free Architecture Surf Terrain), a surf village and idealistic community on Scheveningen beach, created by surfers, for surfers.
With 50 hostel beds and a camping ground, F.A.S.T. offers an inexpensive place to sleep, eat, hang out, and, of course, surf. You can even learn how to build your own surfboard. F.A.S.T. also has meeting rooms for that slightly offbeat conference and the F.A.S.T. Theater, with performances from local artists in many genres: drama, music, cabaret, dance, poetry readings. Films are projected on the side of a container. In some ways, it’s like a micro-nation.
I’m no surfer. In fact, I’m sure I’d spend way more time in the water than on the board. If that describes you, too, no worries. Lots of other things to do here, even of the sporting variety.
Biking on the beach is one option. You’ll need serious wheels for that, easily available from Lola Bikes and Coffee, a cool coffee (and bike) shop in the middle of Den Haag.
I rode my fat-bike from the city centre out to – and on to – Scheveningen beach, along with three blogger friends, guided by this lovely man…
…who in his day job is one of 12 police officers dedicated to fighting animal abuse in Den Haag. Twelve! (Huge kudos to the Netherlands!)
On this late May day, the rain was pelting. Freezing rain. As I biked through town and onto the beach, the rain hit every inch of me, even inside my eyes, so I rode with alternate eyes closed. (It worked.) In the end, I was soaked through and through; every single piece of clothing was dripping wet. Despite that, the ride was very enjoyable.
Container living on Scheveningen beach
The brightly painted shipping containers are very simply furnished with bunk beds dormitory-style. Not my usual cup of tea, but I thought it’d be interesting to try. For something even more offbeat, it’s also possible to sleep in a life-saver capsule.
Now, I’m from a country where we snicker at gales and heckle contemptuously at below zero temperatures, haughtily pronouncing Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær (there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes – sounds better in Norwegian, it rhymes). But I must admit the freezing, wet weather put a damper on my F.A.S.T. experience. Getting soaked while biking in the rain is fine, as long as there’s a nice, warm room waiting at the end of it. There wasn’t.
The bed was comfortable enough, but a few essentials were missing from my container, such as hooks for hanging up wet clothes (and dry clothes for that matter). Fortunately, we were only two sharing the container, so we used the spare beds as drying lines. But despite keeping my clothes and shoes as close to the heater as I dared, everything was just as wet the next morning.
I decided one night was enough under the circumstances. Nevertheless, I liked Surfdorp and the philosophy behind it. In fact, I wouldn’t mind giving it another go. On a lovely summer day, the village would be a fun and unusual place to hang about outdoors, chatting, playing, listening to music – or to the soothing sound of the waves. And even surf.
Want to check out F.A.S.T.? Hostel prices start at €20, or €27,50 incl. breakfast. It’s also possible to camp for €15 per tent per night (max 2 people), or bring a camper for € 5 per meter per night. Electricity is € 5 per night for the camping and camper options. More information is available here. Have a look at the video (in Dutch, but with English subtitles).
Disclosure: At Scheveningen Beach and and in Den Haag, I was a guest of Den Haag Marketing. As ever, I’m free to write about anything that takes my fancy (could be everything, could be nothing).