We spent the majority of our time in Holland exploring Amsterdam, but I felt I couldn’t visit Holland without seeing at least one windmill up close and personal! I know, I know, that’s a very touristy thing to do, but hey, sometimes I’m a tourist!
Located just a 30 minute ride from the city, Zaanse Schans, is quintessential Holland! Beautiful meadows filled with grazing cows, fluffy white clouds and windmills, their sails slowly turning, in the distance.
There are many things to see and do while visiting Zaanse Schans, demonstrations inside the windmills, a wooden clog museum, and tasting cheese of course, but also museums, walking and biking trails, boating and of course shopping. We arrived later in the day, but made the most of our limited time. We all loved this experience which offered something for everyone and was a great taste of Holland.
There are eight windmills onsite, all of them are centuries old, and all are still operational. Although from a distance they look peaceful, it’s a different story on the inside where they are hard at work sawing, grinding and pounding. The noise is unbelievable!
The Zaanse Schans windmills produce, mustard, lumber, dye, and oil. We visited Het Jonge Schaap which is a sawmill and De Bonte Hen an oil mill. During our visit we learned about the processes from start to finish, but also about the lives of the people living in and operating them. I found this entire experience fascinating and incredibly worthwhile. Imagine living inside the mill all year long, the constant loud noise, the cold winters, your livelihood dependent on the wind.
The Wooden Clog Workshop
Located inside the Wooden Clog Workshop is the Wooden Clog Museum and I really got a kick out of all the different types of clogs on display. There were wedding clogs, ice clogs, carved, painted and art clogs to name just a few. It’s hard to imagine actually walking around in any of them, as I do best on a flat shoe!
The boys weren’t as interested in viewing the already made clogs, but enjoyed the how to demonstration, while I browsed the gift shop, filled with you guessed it: clogs! In every size and color they lined the walls making quite a pretty picture! For me the highlight was the large statue of Miffy the Bunny, a favorite of mine.
The Catharina Hoeve Cheese Farm
Of course you can’t be in Holland and not eat cheese. The Catharina Hove Cheese shop is a replica of a cheese farm. Inside you’ll find the shopkeepers, dressed in traditional costumes, ready and willing to tell you all about the different types of cheese. There are samples available and of course you can purchase some to take with you. We happily picked up a few different varieties in anticipation of our upcoming train ride to Paris.
We had a wonderful time during our visit to Zaanse Schans. It was a perfect afternoon!