July 29, 2014 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Sunny, 72 degrees Sunset 9:35 pm
We are in the capital city of the Netherlands. This city gets 3.5 million visitors per year. It is known best for its canals, hopping nightlife, red-light districts, as well as, many cultural sites. The Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House are very popular.
We did a non-sponsored ship tour here today through Amsterdamcitytours.com. It was a 6.5 hour tour of Marken, Volendam and the windmills. Here is the itinerary
A tour which takes you through the typical Dutch countryside of polders and small canals on the way to the Zaanse Schans’, a well-known spot on the Zaan River with historical windmills. Zaandam was the world’s largest industrial zone back in the 17th century with over 1000 windmills. We will be visiting a wood shoe factory (clogs). We will stop at the world famous fishing villages of Volendam and Marken on the coast of Ijsselmeer. With its typical green wooden houses and locals dressed in their traditional costumes. On our way back we will make a visit to one of the very few cheese farms left, where cheese if still made the traditional way. Included in this excursion is a boat trip from Volendam to Marken, a former island now connected to the mainland.
Our tour was to begin at 12:30 so we headed over to the main square about 11:00am. We caught the 26 tram for 280 euro which let us off in front of Central Station. We wandered for a bit to find 26 Damrak but finally did. Turned our voucher in for tickets and had a half our wait. We were glad we waited there since the guide came early to walk us about 2 blocks to the bus. We were first ones on and got the front seat. This is a great tour but there is a lot of walking. No one seemed to expect as much walking as we did.
It was a beautiful 20 minute ride through some countryside to our first stop of Zaanse Schans. There are lots of cows, horses and sheep here. Zaanse Schans had working windmills. We had a demonstration on the one that grinds peanuts into fresh peanut oil. Then we had time to walk around the entire village. Some people actually live here. We took lots of windmill pictures, each one better than the next. There was a nice village that had a candy museum. We walked through it and bought some cinnamon chocolate covered almonds and a milk chocolate cats tongue. They make the cats tongue. It looks like a cats tongue and has a kitty on the top. It was good. Next was the bakery where fresh sweet waffles were being made. Of course we tried one. I was told that if you try to native food it is a cultural experience and no calories are absorbed. Anyways, the waffle was hot, thick and crisp with a little bit of sweetness to it. They want to cover everything with Nutella but I prefer it plain.
Back to the bus and on to Volendam. Another 20 minute ride in the air conditioned bus. It was a warm day but with so much water around we did get some cool breezes. Once in Volendam, we went to the Volendam Museum. It is small but had some great information in it. Everyone there had their traditional garb on.
From here, we walked to the center of town. It was quite a walk. Our guide, Astrid, likes to take the scenic route through alleys, backyards and by people’s houses. It was very nice. Once we made it to the middle of town, she took us to the cheese shop. Here they did a demo on making cheese. We got to sample everything they made and ended up buying some. It is on a casing so will age as we travel and not spoil before we get back. Did you know there is 1 cow for every 4 people in the Netherlands?
After the cheese demo we went further into town by the water and had some free time to get a late lunch or shop. Astrid showed us a great restaurant for fish and chips. So we got a table and it was a little joint. They cooked everything fresh to order. Dad the fish and chips Heineken special which included the beer and mom and I got kibberlings which were pieces of cod which were fried. They were kind of like fish nuggets. Both were served with fries and salad. Afterwards we saw a strawberry waffle go by and had to get one. It was close to time to leave and we had no silverware so we ripped that sucker up with our fingers and ate it. Wait til you see the picture. Oh my goodness, fantastic.
Next it was a boat ride to Marken. Once off the boat we once again walked through neighborhoods to get to the wooden shoe makers. We had demo on how to make them which was quite interesting. After we had a chance to purchase some. I did not buy any shoes but did buy some Stroopwafel. It is a tin of cookies which are a very thin waffle with syrup between them. You get 10 in a tin and they are about the size of a coffee cup saucer. We had some samples and they were great.
Then it was a 25 minute ride back to Amsterdam. We were all tired. There were 3 other people from the ship on board. I asked Astrid if they passed the ship on the way back could she drop us off. This way we did not have to take the tram back or walk. She talked to Bob our driver and he told us to stay on the bus in Amsterdam when he dropped everyone else off and then he would take us to the ship. What a sweetheart. It was so nice of him.
We were back on board about 7:00pm. We came back to find them caulking our shower. He asked us not to use it for at least an hour. So we went to dinner dirty! Peter, our dining steward was waiting for us. He could see we were tired. So he kept our glasses filled with tea and water since we could not seem to get enough and got us small chef salads for dinner.
After dinner it was showers, computer time and bed.
What a great time in Amsterdam. I know we will all sleep well on the docked MS Veendam.