This is sort of the blog version of a #latergram, a blogator? Sounds swampy… Anyhoo, during my little getaway to Amsterdam with my friend Ben near the end of last year, we did a day trip out to the countryside of Zaanse Schans aka windmill-ville.
One of the many wonderful things about the Netherlands is that you’re never too far from anything else. The train to Zaanse Schans took us just half an hour, not including the time it took us to figure out which one we were supposed to be on and where to find it… From the station we could easily walk to the heart of the village.
The town is bafflingly quaint. The houses seem like they’re made from cardboard, but in a nice way. They come in various shades of greens with a few browns for variety, curvaceous gables and Hansel And Gretel-esque white piping.
There’s an array of shops tucked within the Noddy houses. Everything from confectionery and baked goods to Delft pottery, clogs, vintage bric a brac and a cheese shop which was of course, the biggest store. They all seemed to be aimed 100% at the visitors and made up to look old-timey and original with even the staff in historical costumes.
It was lovely to explore but gave me a slightly eerie Potemkin Village feel. I still have no idea where the locals buy their groceries. Are there are even locals? Perhaps all the people cycling the herringbone streets and watering their gardens were just actors?
This town really is tourist-central so if you’re looking for something more authentic it shouldn’t be your first choice, but we really went there for one thing only, WINDMILLS! The very first school project I ever had to do was in grade 3 and it was on countries. I either chose or was assigned Holland, making it the first foreign country I ever took an interest in and researched, so there was something rather sentimental about finally going there 2 decades later, and my number one association with the place was always the windmills, my project cover featuring a wobbly pencil crayon rendition of one.
It is a little odd how excited I got over seeing them, considering Cape Town actually has its own windmill that is very attractive and which I drive past at least once a week, but the heart wants what it wants.
If you’re a fellow mill-ophile, you should definitely head out there. You won’t need more than 2 hours to poke around. There is also a museum which we didn’t get to. I wouldn’t recommend staying for lunch as restaurants in tourist trap places are usually overpriced and underwhelming, but if it’s good weather, perhaps pack a picnic and grab a patch of grass where the windmills can watch you.