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lukasdj Volendam - A travel report by luca
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Volendam,  Netherlands - flag Netherlands -  Noord-Holland
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lukasdj's travel reports

Noord-Holland folk-costume

  18 votes
During May 2005 we (my wife and me) have used Amsterdam as a starting point for our trips discovering Noord-Holland folk-costume: fields of tulips (Keukenhof), cheese factories, fishing towns (Volendam, Marken), and windmills (Zaanse Schans).

Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans
The main goal of our travel was Amsterdam with its museums and reputation of being the Venice of the North, with its countless channels and beautiful 17th century architecture (I have written another report about Amsterdam). But beside the attractions of the city, there are other Dutch symbols that we wanted to see: tulips, cheese factories, windmills, fishing towns: Dutch countryside is a natural masterpiece that strikes like those of famous artists such as Vermeer, Van Gogh, or Rembrandt! We have limited our visit to Noord-Holland and in particular its countryside and little villages. We have excluded other cites like Alkmarr, Hoorn, or Haarlem, because we had not enough time for them, but we have promised to come back in one of our next travels, rent a car, and take a trip around all The Nederlands!

Favourite spots:
Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans is a village-museum near Zaandam. There you can discover how Dutch people lived about 150 years ago in the Zaan area. Houses, shops, windmills and other buildings have been moved from all over the region into this area where people live and maintain traditions and culture still alive. Wherever you look around, you’ll see pretty little wooden houses, woods, windmills, water, grass, flowers, everything in a quiet and silent atmosphere. There is also a little cheese factory, a clog-maker and a little harbour. But the masterpieces are windmills. They are completely functioning and everyone has a different purpose: saw-mill, edge-mill, oil-press, one for mustard production and one used for the water-level control in the polders. I didn’t know that the USA Declaration of Independence had been written using Zaan paper. For centuries Zaan windmills produced the best paper in the world, and outside the museum there is the last still functioning windmill for paper production.

What's really great:
My wife has green fingers therefore Keukenhof is our special spot (actually I prefer Zaanse Shans). Keukenhof doesn’t belong to the province of Noord-Holland, but it’s very close (near Lisse) and it’s one of the most spectacular flowering gardens in the world. Moreover the bulb fields in the province are already faded in the second part of May, while Keukenhof Park is still flowering. It’s maintained by about 90 Dutch bulb cultivators that use it like a shop-window with about 7 millions bulbs. You can spend all day walking around its 30 hectares: there are open-air gardens full of tulips, narcissuses, and hyacinths, but also some pavilions with beautiful orchids, a little lake; all that surrounded by imposing trees. There is also a pretty fake windmill, a clog-maker with its shop, and several refreshment rooms.

Volendam is a fishing town with an old picturesque neighbourhood with small houses, bridges and channels called Doolhof. It’s placed just behind the harbour. Here you can see sailing boat, traditional fishing boat, and all the buildings in front of the sea have traditional facades. The result is a particular sailor-atmosphere that you can’t find easily elsewhere.
Marken is another fishing town placed on a little island. Once, it could be reached only by sea from Volendam, and so we did, even if nowadays there is a street that can be used. The journey by ferryboat is pleasant and gives a fascinating view of the village and its harbour. You can recognize the main colours of the village: black, white, red and dark green. When you walk through the street you can notice that houses stand on piles, this is because of floods that used to come when the sea was still open.

Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans
We have booked a room in Amsterdam: it was easy to leave Amsterdam in the morning by bus or train, spend about a day at destination, and return in the evening.

We had breakfast and dinner in Amsterdam. At lunchtime we used to find an eetcafe and eat something more than a rich breakfast like “uitsmijter” (bread, ham, egg, and cheese) or pannenkoeken or pickled herrings.
Restaurant means food and, in The Nederlands, food means cheese! During our trip from Zaanse Schans to Volendam we stopped in a cheese factory. Here they described us the cheese making process, we could see the farm and, obviously, we bought a lot of cheese!

Other recommendations:
If your want to see fields of tulips in bloom, you have to come between March and the first half of May: you can rent a bike and cycle from Haarlem to Lisse throughout a fantastic landscape.
At the end of April there are several flowers exhibitions, also in Keukenhof.

Published on Friday June 24th, 2005

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Tue, Jun 28 2005 - 12:29 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

excellent report

Sun, Jun 26 2005 - 03:49 AM rating by marianne

Hi Luca,
I am very happy that you had a great time in Holland (i am Dutch). When you were enjoying tulips and cheese I was in eating pizza and admiring Venice.

Your report is very well written, a greta read and excellent information.


Fri, Jun 24 2005 - 10:46 AM rating by rangutan

Another wonderfully written report with first class pictures!

Fri, Jun 24 2005 - 06:50 AM rating by davidx

Bang up to the standard of your Amsterdam report!

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