Windmills, wooden shoes and cheese – that is what Holland is all about, right? It is at Zaans Schans! We first heard about Zaans Schans when we made a trip to Amsterdam a year ago. We asked a waitress about things to do and this was her suggestion. It took us a while but we finally got there. (It took 11 months and 2 1/2 hours, to be specific.)
Zaans Schans is just north of Amsterdam. We took advantage of discount train tickets I’d bought (and was determined to use before their expiration date.) It is a little traditional Dutch village composed of traditional buildings and is often loaded with tourists, for obvious reasons.
Some of the building charge admission but just walking around is free. There are seven windmills in the village and they’re used for different purposes – one is a sawmill, one is an oil mill, and one is used to make paint.
We went into the spice mill. The power of the wind has been harnessed to grind spices. Holland was a big player in the whole spice trade (Dutch East Indies Company ring a bell?) so it’s understandable why they’d need a mill.
Like much of the Netherlands there was water all around – and little bridges to cross and pose for photos.
We visited the cheese factory but missed the demonstration.
We visited the wooden shoe factory but missed that demonstration too. Here is the equipment used to make the shoes though.
Part of the factory had an exhibit on the history of the wooden shoe. There were also a variety of wooden shoes, some of them artistically decorated.
The exterior of the building was pretty interesting also. Shoes as decor – who would’ve thunk it?
Here are the chunks of wood used to make the shoes.
Every visitor to Holland needs a photograph with a giant pair of wooden shoes!
We got a photo in the super gigantic wooden shoe for good measure.
This building an Albert Heijn grocery store. That is a grocery chain in the Netherlands. The founder was from the Zaanse Schans area.
We enjoyed a demonstration at the pewter shop. Molten metal was transformed into a spoon. Fascinating!
There were plenty of friendly critters in Zaans Schans also.
After a few hours we headed back to the train station. On the way we passed a bakery with this adorable window display – that is Sinter Klaas (St. Nicholas) and his band of helpers, Zwarte Pete(s) sailing on a sea of cookies. Something else that made the walk back delightful – we passed a cocoa factory. The smell was quite enjoyable!
And that was our day at Zaanse Schans. On the way back Thomas observed, “We spent more time on the train than we did at our destination!” Yes, that may be true, but it was a relaxing and enjoyable train trip. I don’t think we will return to Zaans Schans but if we have any visitors I will be happy to buy them a train ticket and send them on their way.