You can’t bring someone on their first trip to Holland without showing them a windmill or two or even three.
On our previous visit we had taken an afternoon excursion from Amsterdam that took in the towns of Zaanse Shans, Marken and Volundam. This time we took one that left at 9.am and it turned out to be a much better trip. We booked the trip (€36 each) at the tourist Information Office just opposite Centraal Station and arrived at our pick up point outside the Tours and Tickets shop at Damrak 34 in time to get a pretty good English Breakfast (€7.45 plus latte for €2.50) at the Allstars Steakhouse next door (Damrak 32). This worked out to be much cheaper than having the breakfast buffet at the Ibis (€16) and it was cooked fresh to order too.
Hunger satisfied we boarded the bus and within about twenty minutes we were driving along the dyke that links the former island of Marken to the Dutch mainland. Thankfully the weather was glorious and I spotted hares, lapwings, greylag geese and herons on the polder land while on the lake there were lots of great crested grebes. Now one of the reasons the morning tour is better is that it works in the reverse order, so after our demonstration of hand-making clogs on a traditional electric pattern lathe,
we didn’t have too long to hang about in this pretty, but not very exciting town,
before boarding the ferry to Volundam. As we cruised the Ijsselmeer there were plenty of local sailing craft out on the waters of the former bay as well as some massive Rhine cruise ships.
Disembarking at Volundam we were taken to a cheese factory for a demonstration of cheese making
and more importantly a chance to sample the local cheeses with various jams and mustards. Unlike the cheese factory at Zaanse Schans that we visited last time they were a lot more generous with the samples too. I have to say that the aged cheese goes very well with mustard, if only there had been some beer and old jenever to wash it down.
Cheesed out we had time for a swift pint before getting back on the coach to Zaanse Schans and the windmills. You can read about them on our previous trip here
Of course the object of the trip was to see the windmills, but I could not resist taking a snap of this little fellow,
who was sweltering in his fleece or this chap enjoying someone’s dropped ice cream.
So after a brief walk around the windmills we were back on the bus heading back into Amsterdam for an appointment with a big plate of Old Amsterdam cheese at Cafe Hoppe.