when i think of netherland 2 things came to mind – tulips & windmills! maybe milkmaids?
zaanse schans is the beautiful windmill country. the train station at koog-zaandijk is just 4 stops 17minutes from amsterdam central, & then a 15mins walk to zaanse schans village.
the zaan region used to be 1 of western europe’s oldest industrial area and boasted some 600 active windmills & factories powered by wind in the heydays in 18th & 19th century. it was also the centre of shipbuilding in the 17th century during the dutch golden age.
now there are some 10 working windmills in zaanse schans. though the windmills were relocated here piece by piece, today zaanse schans is a living & working community, with clog- and cheese-making, shops, boutiques, stunning buildings & meadow landscape.
read more about zaanse schans here.
we had planned to cycle at zaanse schans. there is what appears to be a good cycling guide and cycle routes/map. it indicated that one could rent a bicycle at zaandam station. i arrived amsterdam on a sunday & we took the train from amsterdam central to zaandam but was unable to locate the bike rental. we asked around in the station & some staff said the rental shop was closed on sunday, which was odd since it should really be catering to the tourist crowd so why closed on sunday?
anyhow we did not have much time as we had only 2 more days in amsterdam & we had purchased the holland pass & would be using the pass for keukenhoff gardens & the museums & canal cruise & also planning to cycle to waterland. so we decided to just take a bus from zaandam station to zaanse schans & skip the cycling.
zaanse schans village was idyllic as described in the guides & the windmills along the river were magnificent. we had a very pleasant stroll & if we had more time & were able to locate the bike rentals it would be quite fun to cycle in the surrounding meadows.
we wondered into a cheese shop & factory & the cheese were just fantastic. every cheese we tried were really nice & we bought 3 including a goat cheese. 🙂
we came by the train route (the bus we took from zaandam stopped at near the koog-zaandijk train station as the one that stopped nearer was a 1 hr wait). on the return trip, we took bus 391 which stopped right across the bridge on the other side of the river from the village. it was a 40mins ride back to amsterdam central.
though regrettably we did not get to cycle, it was still quite a wonderful day & we were also looking forward to dinner at beulings (& indeed we had the most wonderful dinner) which we had made prior reservations before the trip. 🙂