Netherlands is not all about Tulips or Amsterdam. Amsterdam is awesome, agreed! I had an absolutely amazing time there, meeting friends, sampling desserts, drinking coffee and cocktails, cruising the canals, visiting museums and soaking up history. Read more about my Amsterdam Diary here.
However, you step out of Amsterdam and you see the real Holland or Netherlands.
We took two days trips. The first trip covered Zaanse Schans, Volendam and Marken. We took the bus to Zaanse Schans and Volendam and from Volendam we took the 45 minutes boat ride to Marken. On the second day, we covered Hague and Delft.
Let’s begin with Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans is located just outside Amsterdam. It’s a really cute, charming Dutch village lined with 17th-century old windmills which are even functioning now. We went into one and saw how the peanut oil is being made. It was a great visit for my kids. You enter into Zaanse Schans, located on the Zaan River and you get excited at it’s postcard-perfect looks.
The bus ride from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans is around 40 minutes or so.
Marken is Netherland’s small traditional fishing village and as Rick Steve aptly puts it – “This time-passed hamlet in a bottle — once virtually abandoned — has been kept alive as a tourist attraction”.
This island town once had a harbor for whaling and herring fishing, but when the Zuiderzee began to silt up in the late 17th century, it became difficult to eke out a living here. However around 1957, the causeway was built to connect the mainland to this cute village which attracted a lot of visitors.
You walk around Marken, and all you see is this town’s unique architecture, adapted to survive the challenging local conditions. Since the tides could be so temperamental, the houses are clustered on little hills.
The traditional Marken homes may look dull and black-tarred outside, but are very cheerfully yellow and blue painted inside. Every house boasted of some unique and amazing window décor.
Green meadows, grazing cattle and sheep, waddling ducks, and brightly-colored wooden cottages all make for wonderful sights to behold in these villages.
Unlike Marken, Volendam is very touristy. The town’s promenade is lined with souvenir shops, eateries etc. The village is situated in North Holland along the sea, called Zuiderzee. It is also one of the few places in The Netherlands you can still see people wearing the traditional clothes.
On the last day, we did Delft. Delft took my breath away.
I could have lived in Delft forever. A tiny town that looks like a postcard is ringed by canals, beautiful homes, and centuries-old churches. Delft is exactly like what it’s famous for – Peaceful as a Vermeer painting and as lovely as its porcelain.
You enter into Delft and you are engulfed by this “I could live here” feeling. Just wander around, enjoy the waffles, people-watch, and daydream. If you love Vermeer’s quiet, exquisite paintings, you understand why it’s said that the painter’s muse was his hometown of Delft.
Delftware, a world-famous form of pottery that has been around since the 17th century and is now experiencing a comeback. I bought a pair of ear rings.
This is Delft’s New Church (Nieuwe Kerk) is, in fact, anything but new. Built between 1396 and 1496, this splendid church’s Gothic tower rises 108 meters above the large square, offering great views and pleasant chimes from its 17th-century carillon.
Delft’s Old Church (Oude Kerk) was built around 1250 and is notable for its slightly leaning tower, along with its fine timber vaulting from 1574.
If you have missed reading about Netherlands (Part 1) Amsterdam, click here Netherlands (Part 1) – Amsterdam: A Photo Diary
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