With all the rain around in Amsterdam we decided to join a tour and get on a bus to be shown around – this tour was headed just 20 minutes out of the city to a village called Zaanse Schans where they still have working windmills. There are lots of quaint little villages out here all surrounded by small canals, large canals and super canals all working together to stop the whole of The Netherlands from being flooded as the whole place sits about 4 metres below sea level.
There were a few breaks in the rain, which was great…. this tends to happen when you dress for rain and then carry all the rain paraphernalia that you have brought with you.
And there they are.
Back in the day there were 300+ working windmills around the country, but during the war – good ol’ ww2 – the nazis swooped in and demolished all but 7. Seriously, they ruined everything!
We thought that Amsterdam was going to be a warm stop and discussed packing a shorter length pant and perhaps a sandal for these 3 days…. but it’s been trè chilly.
These windmills are still working, with their 17th century mechanics. They make peanut oil, linseed oil and chocolate, just to name a few things.
This chap works in the mill that makes peanut and linseed oils. It’s the same mill where Rembrandt used to come to buy linseed to make his paints…. this chap wasn’t around then, but he has been working in this same mill for 25 years, 6 months and 3 weeks….. but who’s counting?
The mill workers still wear the wooden clogs and please do note the smaller clog that acts as a kerchief adornment…. one of the chaps on our tour purchased one of those and proudly wore it for the day.
As always there were interesting and intriguing people on our tour…. this chap thought his best course of action was to stand in front of us and do this, cause you never know when you’re going to want to show this footage back home.
It still amazes me that these feats of engineering were thought of hundreds of years ago…. I don’t know why I think the people weren’t as smart back then as they are today because all of their inventions were born of necessity and are quite ingenious!
Here’s Me Jenny having a wee sit down during the windmill talk. I think this is why we don’t like tours….. this was a “Small Group Tour”, but you still couldn’t see or hear anything unless you pushed your way to the front.
All in a day’s work….. Peanut Oil.
and Arachide Oil….. ?
This is what we did while the talk was going on….
The village was lovely to wonder around….
This was a missed photo opportunity….. I asked Me Jenny if she’d like to go and sit in this show for a photo and she simply said “no” and kept walking.
Our next stop was the village of Edam – that’s right, like the cheese!
First we popped into the museum where there were lots of mannequins in traditional dress… I’ve always loved these bonnets because Me Jen’s grandparents once came to Holland and brought her back one just like this. I wore it once to a dress up day at school and remember feeling very special. After that wearing it went straight back into the plastic bag it came from and was put directly back into the linen cupboard where it sits to this day.
I’m not sure I can give you any information about this photo….
There is a room in the museum that looks like this. The walls and ceilings and floor is covered in these mosaics that were all made from the ends of cigars.
I think they went a little too far though…..
Then we walked, following our guide Diana who had the most fabulous sing song Spanish accent and said English words with the emphasis on the wrong syllables.
She lead us to a cheese factory where we thought we were going to see how cheese was made. Instead we were treated to a cheese maker who spoke without opening his mouth who pointed to a few things around this kitchen and mumbled something about curds and whey…… then we tasted cheese.
The village is right on the harbour of the great big lake that all the water of the canals eventually flow into. This was also our stop for lunch. Diana recommended a restaurant on the waterfront that served cod and chips – a village specialty, so we waited with the rest of the crowd for a table – you’ve never seen a busier restaurant! We finally got a table – out the back in a dungeon like room in-between the toilet and the cupboard…..
so we up’ed and moved on down the street where we got a seat outside on the water where we enjoyed a couple of cold ones and……
beautiful mussels and fish.
and we got to watch the world go by…..
The harbour is filled with these old fashioned boats – it’s like stepping back in time.
Back in Amsterdam we took the scenic route back through the Red Light District, but managed to avoid the streets with the windows…. I’m not sure much happens there during the day anyway. We wandered through back streets and then cam across what we thought was going to be a market – but when we got there, it was a giant book sale. I heard a group of young men walk past me and one said “oh, how disappointing!”
Our day was finished with a little nap and then a quick search for a nearby restaurant on Google…. an Italian one popped up just across the canal, so we headed there not thinking too much of the day or the time or whether we needed to book.
We arrived and asked for a table for 2 and were told to “wait there madam” there were plenty of spare tables, and we were summoned to eventually follow as he threw a throw away point towards a table, so we just sat down. The three men who came in after us were turned away… from then on, we watched group after group of people try their luck as this bustling little place….. although it wasn’t that little – it had an upstairs area which seemed never-ending by the amount of people who were sent up there on arrival.
We tried to work out what the criteria was for gaining entry…. he let in quite obviously drunk men, one of which staggered to the stairs and then promptly fell down… his mate watched him and then gave a thumbs up and said to anyone listening – “he’s fine”. We watched the waiter say no to a group of 4, but then let in a group of 10 – all upstairs…. it was crazy!
We enjoyed our beautiful meal, but left with a touch of whiplash.