Last Full Day in the Netherlands

We had our last full day of adventures in Amsterdam. Tomorrow we will head to the laundromat for fresh clean clothes, catch a boat ride, and then airport fun. For the last full entry on Amsterdam, I am turning the keyboard over to Big Al, AKA my mom, for her insight on the countryside fun. 

Alice E:

Today Sarah and I were full fledged tourists. We were at the mercy of the Countryside Sightseeing of Amsterdam company. We headed north to experience old world Netherlands. No more than 10 minutes out of the city we were among lush green flat lands, canals, and fat healthy livestock. There are no burbs here.  

Our first stop was the little windmill village of Zaanse Schans. The cobblestone streets, gingerbread houses colorful window-boxes, and period costumes made me feel I had just stepped into a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. We were given a tour of a working windmill. There were five windmills in the village. One produced linseed oil, one produced ground pigments to mix with the linseed oil to make paint, one produced flour, one paper and the one we toured milled lumber. I am always amazed by the industrial engineering of the 18th and 19th centuries. Even though they are dependent on wind energy they have a large request for their milled lumber. It was interesting to hear their conundrum because the tourist side of their business is booming. Good for them always glad to see hard working folks making a success in the world.

From the windmills we headed further north to the town of Volendam. Again quaint village but a little more crowded with tourists from all over the world. Our stop was the Volendam Cheese Factory. After a presentation of the cheese making process, we were given a tasting of Gouda, cheddar, Parmesan, smoked, and Edam – they were all delicious. We bought a sample package, crackers and grapes and headed to the water to enjoy a lakeside lunch.  

After a relaxing lunch we boarded a ferry for the island of Marken. It was a beautiful day for a boat ride, blue skies, calm waters, light breeze and lots of sun on the largest freshwater lake in Europe, Lake IJsselmeer. Sarah and I so did not pack for this weather but we are making the best of it. We met two sweet couples on the boat from the states. They were headed to Germany and France by boat latter today but were envious of our backpacking adventure. Once we arrived on the island our guide, Edgar, walked us through the village to the cottage of Bart the wooden clog maker. He was most entertaining. He explained and demonstrated how to make clogs. Poplar wood is used and with his machinery which will be 80 years old tomorrow made a clog in about 5 minutes. The Danish leave nothing to waste. The shavings from the shoes is used to smoke the many fish caught in the lake. Again, color me impressed with the mechanics involved.

We did not take the ferry back to Volendam the bus met us and we road the road built on the dykes. It was another pastoral ride back to Amsterdam. On this our last full day of adventures, Sarah and I agreed we must come back there is a whole other world outside of Amsterdam that we need to explore. Vaarwel (good bye) Amsterdam it has been an amazing adventure.