on October 30, 2006
The Netherlands is a beautiful country. It is also a fairly small place. It takes no time at all to leave the city behind you and find a land of wooden shoes and windmills. As touristy as it might sound, we wanted to do just this thing, and Zaanse Schans is only 20 minutes via train from the Central Station in Amsterdam. You can take a tour if you'd like, which will set you back about 20 Euro per person. We took the train, which was under 15 Euro for ALL our tickets including the return trips. We simply got off at our stop and had a five minute walk from the station to a pleasant afternoon.Zaanse Schans still uses its windmills. We peeked into the one used to ground mustard seeds before buying a small glass jar of the condiment to take home. We gazed across the water at the lovely houses that were built by wealthy merchants who controlled this area. You can take a boat ride if you'd like. We walked by the goats and ducks walking happily on the flat grasslands reclaimed from marsh and found a workshop where a gentleman was showing how wooden shoes are made. One of the few memories I have retained from my childhood travels in Europe was picking out wooden shoes of my own in the Netherlands. Of course, I had to buy my own son a pair of shoes, too! A decent sort of boy, he played along with my excitement and even wore his shoes - much to the amusement of several Japanese tourists - as he clomped along on the gravel paths outside the shop. Little kids will certainly like having their picture taking in the giant wooden shoe they'll find in this village. While I thought the pancakes we had in the Pancake Bakery in Amsterdam were better, we did enjoy a snack of sweet pancakes at a cafeteria style restaurant in the village. All-in-all, Zaanse Schans had all the makings for a nice family outing.
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