A modern city steeped in history.


Located about a 15 minutes train ride from Amsterdam is a Dutch city, Zaandam, that hosts every Netherlands iconic image from windmills to wooden shoe making shops and we had to visit! They have an open-air museum where you can walk around windmills and historic houses.

To get to the open-air Museum Zaanse Schans, we took the “Sprinter” train towards Uitgeest and got off at the Koog-Zaandijk station. We then walked about 10 minutes to the Zaanse Schans Open Air Museum.

It was a rainy day but we were determined to make the most of the day. 


The Zaanse Schans is a tourist attraction close to Amsterdam, famous for its windmills. But Zaanse Schans is actually much more than just its windmills. It’s a small historic village that takes you back in time, offering a glimpse of the Dutch local life back in the old days.


Thanks to a little angel on its shoulder, De Bonte Hen has survived since 1693. This mill has survived multiple lightning strikes. De Bonte Hen is an octagonal over-wheeling mill with a gallery around the mill. Between 1973 and 1978 the mill was completely restored and re-equipped with important parts.


This miniature windmill was originally built in the late 19th century and was used to pump water out a polder. The little mill has nine pounders and a grindstone. In earlier times young people built these little mills everywhere on farmers’ yards or on small barns. They made some extra money by pulverizing broken sandstone mill stones from other mills into crushed stone.


We ate at Restaurant De Hoop op d’Swarte Walvis, a charming riverside restaurant. The meals were excellent. Make reservations if you want to eat outside as it fills up.


We had a fantastic lunch overlooking the water. It was so peaceful and an escape from the crowds. I had a Caesar salad and a lunch platter with mushroom soup, green salad, soft bound egg, fish salad and a shrimp croquette. 


Good service and amazing food. I recommend the shank of lamb, the cooking point was PERFECT! Nice soft background music. Price very reasonable for the location and the quality of the food.


Cheese making in the Netherlands can be traced back to 400 AD. Cheese markets in the Netherlands have been operating for hundreds of years. Holland is the #1 cheese exporting nation, exporting hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cheese every year. The Netherlands enjoys a favorable climate for dairy farming and its soil is rich with nutrients from the sea, enabling the Dutch to produce the quantities necessary to support their enormous cheese export economy.


Gouda is the best known Dutch Cheese and its recipe has been copied (but rarely equaled) by cheese makers around the world. Gouda accounts for over half of Holland’s cheese production. A round cheese typically available in 9 to 24 pound wax-coated wheels, This traditional semi-soft cow’s milk cheese is made from 48% butterfat milk and can be aged anywhere from 3 months to 5 years of more.


Clogs, or wooden shoes, are known as klompen in Dutch, and they have been used in the Netherlands since medieval times. If you imagine hoards of Dutch people click-clacking around in wooden shoes across the canals and cobbled streets of the Netherlands, I’m afraid I must burst your bubble. The only clogs you’ll see in Dutch cities these days are brightly painted tourist shop editions.


The workshop is open everyday, a unique opportunity to view one of the largest and finest collections of clogs in the Netherlands. This includes beautiful examples of painted clogs, carved clogs, “ice clogs” with iron fittings, horse clogs, “art”-clogs and clogs from many (exotic) countries.

The workshop is situated in the ‘De Vreede’ warehouse (1750), which was formerly used to store grain and snuff tobacco. 



There is even a “Diamond Clog” designed by an Amsterdam metal worker in homage to the British artist Damien Hirst. He’s not Dutch, but he would probably admire the sparkly shoe. 



The Zaans museum is housed in a modern building on the Zaanse Schans. The museum illustrates the cultural and industrial heritage of Zaandam.

The Zaans Museum tells the story of daily life in the Zaan region over the centuries. The Zaan was one of the oldest industrial areas in Europe, and wind and water played an essential role in its success. With its modern design and captivating form of story-telling the museum is well worth a visit.


The ‘Verkade Experience’, transports you into an early-twentieth-century chocolate and biscuit factory, telling you the history behind one of the area’s most successful businesses: Verkade. 


In 1871, the world-famous French painter Claude Monet visited the Zaan region and became so inspired that he made no fewer than 25 paintings there. In the Zaans Museum you can see De Vooraan and the Westerhem and an interactive presentation with all his Zaanse works.



A moment where the setting, or what’s happening is just so surreal, that it would be great for Instagram.




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