While on my tour of Bruges and Ghent in Belgium, I made small talk with a lovely family from the States that was also on the excursion. On a whim, I asked them if they’d been to Amsterdam. They said it was their next visit – and suggested the Amsterdam: Zaanse Schans, Volendam, and Marken Day Trip via the app, Get Your Guide.
Now, usually I like to do my obsessive research to find JUST the right trip for myself. However, a quiet voice inside my mind said “just book it”. So, after a very LIGHT comparison with another trip that had just one more stop, I booked the all inclusive one from Tours & Tickets.
A few days later, I walked from The Hoxton, Amsterdam to Amsterdam Centraal station to meet my tour group.
Meeting at Amsterdam Centraal
Now, I write this to help ANYONE ELSE who may get lost trying to find where the Tours & Tickets office is, within Amsterdam Centraal. If you enter the building from the front via Damrak, you need to start walking to the left of the corridor. If you walk to the right, that will take you to gated entry to the trains. You don’t want that. Walk to the left, go down the stairs toward the back of the building (toward the ferries) and then walk toward the Mango store. Once you see the store, you’ll see the GIANT Tours & Tickets office. I arrived at 8:30am, checked in inside, and then met my group.
After a short walk to the double decker bus parked a bit up on De Ruijterkade, we all settled in. A few minutes later – we were on our way.
What I truly enjoyed about Zaanse Schans were learning about how the windmills of the Netherlands made the country so technologically forward and rich, that they were the direct reason that the Dutch East Indian Company was able to assume so much power and fuel their slavery empire.
In my opinion, the Dutch were just as severe as the British – if not more – in their colonization. From the rather upbeat, recorded tour that played before we arrived at Zaanse Schans, I learned that the Dutch East Indian Company originally named Australia, New Holland. Which lasted as the name until the mid-1850s.
As I stood at the De Zoeker Molen windmill, I watched the wheels turn and felt the weight of my ancestors legacy through me. It was a powerful, full circle moment – in which I chose to heal and learn through. You can’t white wash history when the legacy of slavery and forced migration stands in the American South stands before the actual thing that was the root of power of the county.
And now, watch it now crush peanuts to make peanut oil.
It was – a powerful moment in my ancestry. Now, this wooden windmill was an artifact. Even though machines in modern technology made more peanut oil in a month than this windmill made in a year, it was still in use.
After the demonstration, we had a little less than 45 minutes for free time. As I wandered around the village, I appreciated the land itself. It’s history, culture and the heritage. I felt connected to the influence of the past. But, rather than wallow in the pain of my ancestors, I felt a sense of release and of being reborn in the now.
I took photos of the sheep and various points of the landscapes. But, most important to me, I took some quick shots of the exterior of Kooijman’s Dutch Workshop of Souvenirs and Clogs.
These images turned out to be the absolute favorite of my tour.
In Volendam, we immediately made our way to Cheese Factory Volendam. I was absolutely delighted.
I absolutely love “meet the maker” tours. Some take aways:
- “One glass of whey a day will keep the wrinkles away” It’s in this moment that I connected the dots that whey protein was from the cheese making process. I literally just never thought of it like that!
- The older a cheese matures, the harder it gets and the more flavor it develops. Three years old cheese is perfect for paring with wine.
- Do not forget that you cannot eat the rind of the cheese. This is made from paraffin wax and is NOT cheese.
- Vegetarian cheeses use protein from plants for the process. Now, there is cheese for everyone!
After a short and humorous demonstration of the cheese process, we were shuttled into a store area to browse and buy various cheeses. I tasted young cheese and mature cheeses of 3 years. I didn’t try any of the vegetarian cheese.
Personally, I would suggest purchasing cheese in Volendam instead of in Amsterdam. The prices are better. Plus, from goat cheeses to cow cheeses, you get a larger selection of cheese to choose from.
During our free time for lunch, I visited De Dijk, overlooking Markermeer lake. After a quick stroopwafel at Woltjes Backerij, I boarded the ferry for the short ride to Marken via Volendam Marken Express.
Disembarking in Marken, we walked through the picturesque town to the clog making demonstration at Wooden Shoe Factory – Marken. The claim to fame for this particular shoe maker is that they use a steam engine from 1908 to make their shoes. It was interesting to learn that wooden shoes have been traditional in the culture since the 13th century.
Overall, this was a solid tour to explore the Netherlands countryside. There were some times that I wished we had more time to explore and relax. However, for 5.5 hours, it was comprehensive and hit all the right notes.
Tours & Tickets
Amsterdam Centraal Stationsplein 17A
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1012 AB