This is part 2 of a 3-part series on a weekend trip to the Netherlands. Click here for part 1 and here for part 3. If you just want to see pictures, click here. If you’re actually interested in a bit of narration, please carry on.
My first impression of Holland when I was a young child was the windmill. Whenever anyone mentioned Holland, I would imagine huge windmills and women wearing cute white traditional Dutch dresses. Tulips came later into the picture, but nothing beats windmills when you’re talking about symbols of Holland.
When my colleague suggested a visit to the tiny village of Zaanse Schans, I gladly accepted the proposition. After a “crazy” night in Amsterdam (which I will write about later, and explain what “crazy” means), Zaanse Schans was a humble little place to visit first thing on a Sunday morning, with the weather in our favour every step of the way.
It turned out to be more than worth it because first of all, there is no admission fee. Of course, if you choose to buy souvenirs, that’s your choice. I’m usually not a souvenirs person, but Zaanse Schans was the only destination in the Netherlands from which I actually bought souvenirs for my friends. All the variety and all the adorable designs – and surprisingly not too too expensive (except for the postcards that sold for 1.25 Euros each)!
Also, the scenery at Zaanse Schans was beautiful. As soon as we stepped into the entrance of the village, we were captivated by the windmills waving in the distance and the photo-snapping began, even though we weren’t anywhere close to the windmills. Along with souvenir-buying, we spent a good half an hour in the entrance area, and we haven’t even crossed the bridge that led to the actual attraction itself. The parking cost was 1 Euro for 30 minutes and 7 Euros for any duration more than 30 minutes, so to make the parking cost worthwhile, we’d have to stay for at least 3.5 hours. It didn’t seem possible at first, but with the half an hour spent just at the entrance, maybe we spoke too early and underestimated the charm of the little place…
Entrance area with lots of tourists. The two houses up ahead were the souvenir shops and we spent much more time than expected in there, though I did manage to get some goodies.
First impression of the windmills, still in the entrance area. I think there were supposed to be seven of them in total.
It seemed that we were taking a trip back to rural life, and it was obvious as the smell of “nature” filled the air. These goats are certainly not the only animals that we’d be seeing around the block.
And there we have the bridge. Crossing over the bridge would bring us directly towards the windmills that we saw earlier.
A few of these guys were seen around the area, though I don’t know the exact name of this bird. I had guess heron, but now I doubt it.
Black birds playing with the grass.
Shy roosters hiding under the bench, but you can’t hide from me!
Here we have some animal life in the village, all birds by coincident. Of course there were also dogs and goats and horses here and there, but I only took close-ups of our flying friends. The rooster was crowing loudly at noon and one wonders if it just woke up or something…
A bird standing by the creek, admiring its own reflection. I’m not sure what this bird is called. My first intuition was heron, but upon looking up pictures, I think I was wrong. Then I found this page with a list of “birds with long-legged-like shape” and decided that it could be a crane of some sort. What do you think?
Houses on the other side of the river. Funny designs, and a lot of green. The colour was very appealing for some reason.
Four windmills. Let’s harvest some good ol’ wind energy!
A closer look at the different windmills at Zaanse Schans. I don’t know which is which, but the types of mills include sawmill, oil mill, paint mill, and mustard mill. I loved hearing the sound of the cloth on the mill fluttering in the wind when the mill is rotating. Such strength and power!
I thought about a lot of things during this trip, especially how travelling has already become such a routine, so “normal”. However, that doesn’t take the fun out of travelling; it just makes it more fun to anticipate where to go next and see the world beyond the visible horizon. The travelling is only possible when I’m stationed in Belgium, and that is at least one reason why I like Belgium and one way to keep me sane in Louvain-la-Neuve.
I think the willow tree is my newfound love of nature. Actually, I’ve liked the shape and elegance of willow trees ever since my trip to Hangzhou, and the one here further shows its delicacy. The way it swings back and forth in even the gentlest breeze is like the silky dress of a classy lady swaying as she walks. Subtle beauty.
Time for a group photo! From left to right, there’s Huoming and Xia, a married Chinese couple whom I met for the first time on Saturday, Shanning, my Chinese colleague, Annie, and Amir, an Iranian colleague. Great fun travelling with these guys, and I sure hope they didn’t mind my average driving along the road!
Let’s end this entry with a crane (let’s just say it’s a crane) taking flight. A bit blurry, but I was glad to have been fast enough to at least capture the flying motion of the bird. Bye bye Zaanse Schans!
Our next destination was Den Haag, about an hour away by car. Next entry will be about the large cities of Holland, Amsterdam and Den Haag, one visited before and the other after Zaanse Schans. Stay tuned!