About Zaanse Schans
I have always been in awe of wooden windmills, from the first time I, as a child, attempted to paint a Dutch country side with a windmills-dotted skyline to the time when I visited a windmill-turned-brewery (Browerij’t IJ) in Amsterdam on my student trip in 2011. My short time in Amsterdam had not given me the scope to visit any other windmills around the area and my awe persisted. In my recent Euro-trip, I decided to get a closure on my infatuation and visit the Dutch countryside teeming with these imposing wooden structures. The visit turned out to be much more than windmills and alas, my love for the Dutch countryside continues…In Netherlands, there are two very popular neighborhoods which have been protected and preserved to display the Dutch way of living and trades and crafts from rural Netherlands. One is Kinderdijk (near Rotterdam) which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The other is Zaanse Schans (near Amsterdam). We decided on Zaanse Schans because it was easier for us travel-wise. We took a bus from Stuttgart to Amsterdam and then bought an Amsterdam & Region Travel Pass, which covers a lot of neighborhoods around Amsterdam including the famous Keukenhof tulip gardens and Zaanse Schans. Zaanse Schans is a short 45 mins trip from Amsterdam Central by bus.We had booked an Airbnb accommodation in Zaandijk, very close to the site of Zaanse Schaans. After freshening up, we took our bicycles and made our way to the site. It was very windy and our hair was windswept. As we neared the place, a strong odour accosted us. We were to find out later that it was the emissions from the chocolate and starch factories in the region.We had a preconceived picture of a few windmills and wooden houses that we would get to see at the site. But the scene that welcomed us transported us immediately to the industrial age in Netherlands. It is like an open-air museum with bakery, cheese factory, clog-making warehouse and wooden houses with barns and working-windmills on the banks of river Zaan that flows in the area. It indeed looked like a painting.
How To Reach
Book a Package Tour
If you hang around Dam Square, Leidseplein or Rembrandtplein long enough, you’re bound to come across talented musicians, jugglers, mimes, break dancers and comedians who come from around the globe to perform in public squares for free. Many are aspiring stars and this is their livelihood, so be sure to throw a few euros their way if they’ve inspired a belly laugh.
Although the Secret Annex, where Anne Frank and her sister, parents and four other fearful Jews lived from 1942–1944, is both a testament to human courage and a reminder of wartime horrors, hordes of camera-toting tourists outnumber ghosts of times past these days. Arrive after 8:30—a bit early if you’ve enjoyed Amsterdam’s nightlife the eve before—and you’ll wait in line for hours. Fortunately, you can avoid wasting time by purchasing an e-ticket. For non-planners, there’s free WiFi for playing on your smartphone or tab while queuing up. If you lose patience, buy Anne’s diary and other accounts of the Holocaust at the English Bookshop in Amsterdam’s Jordaan district.
When in Amsterdam - this is a must visit place. Most of us wouldn't have ever seen anything like this before - so be prepared to be amused and surprised :) Beautiful women standing in skimpy clothes in Windows, like an exhibit. You can see these in many of the lanes around this area. If you are lucky you will catch a negotiation or two happening. €50 for 15 min No photography allowed :)
Anne Frank House
Many people come to Amsterdam with a bucket list—a compilation of tips gleaned from guidebooks, friends, family, curiosity and a little classroom history. Topping many lists is the Anne Frank House, one of the city’s most famous museums. Long deserted by its last residents, it’s where Amsterdam’s most famous teen writer vented daily frustrations in her world-renowned diary while hiding from the Nazis during World War II. Although the Secret Annex, where Anne Frank and her sister, parents and four other fearful Jews lived from 1942–1944, is both a testament to human courage and a reminder of wartime horrors, hordes of camera-toting tourists outnumber ghosts of times past these days. Arrive after 8:30—a bit early if you’ve enjoyed Amsterdam’s nightlife the eve before—and you’ll wait in line for hours. Fortunately, you can avoid wasting time by purchasing an e-ticket. For non-planners, there’s free WiFi for playing on your smartphone or tab while queuing up. If you lose patience, buy Anne’s diary and other accounts of the Holocaust at the English Bookshop in Amsterdam’s Jordaan district.
Or even someone who just wants to have fun! The Heineken Experience is a trip to the Heineken Brewery and Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It is not a working brewery but an old one which has been converted into a museum and is open for everyone. The whole experience is just full of wonder and fun and excitement. You need to go there just to feel like a kid who is given the pass to sit on those 4ft and above rides in an amusement park.
Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh Museum—repositories of Golden Age art, iconic sunflowers and tormented starry nights. While our destination museums are rife with artistic treasures, they’re also chock full of tourists, especially in high season (May–September), when millions descend on the Dutch capital. Avoid the queues with an e-ticket or Museumkaart, or make use of free WiFi while waiting in line. Once in, don’t count on marveling at the work of Dutch masters in solitary reverence at either of these popular tourist attractions, especially if you visit in summer or during school vacation time.
The home base for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the Schiphol International Airport lives up to its tag line: See, Buy, Fly. The airport has a generous mix of deals and discounts on souvenirs, Gouda cheese, and Dutch porcelain. Pick a deal that suits your taste and fly out in style. While you’re at it, do not miss interesting sales on beautiful tulips and other flowers. schiphol.nl
This month, after more than a decade’s closure, the Rijkshuseum, with one of the world’s greatest start collections, at last reopens its doors. Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Jan Steen and a host of other glorious Old Masters are in place, alongside a treasure trove of silverware, delft and princely furniture, and exquisitely detailed doll’s houses made as showpieces for Golden Age grandees.
Walk through Central Station, turn left and hop on the free ferry to NDSM Wharf in Amsterdam-Noord. On the ride across the Ij to what was once a derelict shipyard, take in the low, village-like skyline. In 15 minutes, you’ll arrive in an artsy community and cultural hot spot peppered with recycled-junk sculptures, a giant tiki head, and numerous funky restaurants and night spots. Throughout the year, festivals, performances, exhibitions and IJ Hallen, Europe’s largest flea market, are held in Amsterdam-Noord.
After the glitz of the previous excursion, find respite in this hidden courtyard protected from the madness of central Amsterdam. Beyond the Begijnhof’s humble doors, an oasis of 14th century houses, gardens and relic-filled churches provides quiet escape from the buzz of the city. Once a residential sanctuary for the Bengijntjes, a Catholic sisterhood comprised of women who took no monastic vows but dedicated their lives to educating the poor and taking care of the sick, it’s now a place where people still gather to worship, marry and reflect.
Amsterdam Hostel Leidseplein
Well, I am writing this blog from the reception area of the Leidseplein Hostel on the last night of my stay in Amsterdam. The link to the hostel is : http://www.amsterdamhostelleidseplein.com/contact/This blog might provide help to those reading it, as it also gives a brief idea about how one can actually come and roam around Amsterdam, Netherlands.2 days are more than enough to visit Amsterdam. It would cover most of the worthy things. If you have a specific interest or passion in art, and paintings, or even things related to museum; and then if you of course have money, you can always visit the numerous museums all around Amsterdam(mind the pronunciation, it is not dum of dumb, but in fact dam of damp).Since my hostel was located quite close to DAM square(I will come back to it later), so I had to take a the tram number 5 (http://maps.gvb.nl/nl/lijnen?tram&amp;show) from the Amsterdam Centraal station. Trams are an easy means to travel all the places, and their frequency is good enough. But of course, you should get a ticket from the counter and you need to swipe in and swipe out your ticket card in the swiping machine(placed at the door once you enter) every time you board in/out the tram.Even before that…….my flight was from New Delhi to Doha, and from Doha to Amsterdam. Well, it was Qatar Airways, and of course they give free food(breakfast/lunch/dinner). So, you need not worry of your hunger if you book your tickets on this flight. There are other routes as well. Aeroflot takes the route New Delhi-Moscow-Amsterdam. But I have no idea whether they provide any kind of food or not. Since I am a lacto-vegetarian(one who consumes dairy products, but not eggs), I had to be a little aware of what is being provided, and had to keep asking at most places. Luckily, Europe acknowledges peoples’ choices and shows good amount of respect for them. Though the only things you need to take care is, you need to ask them for the vegetarian item in their menu,and inform them of your type. Again luckily, Qatar Airways did have a distinct mention of veg and non-veg food, so I was at relief. But then that may not be the case in Aeroflot.Of course, the Aeroflot prices are less, but most of the time they are non-refundable; and of course you got to decide between which airport and which country air-stewardesses do you wish to see, the russian or the arabic ones ????Well, since it is an international airport with an international transfer, a transit visa(information updated until 19th November 2015) is not at all required. And most of Doha airport are self exploratory and there would be help desks all around to guide you to the gate your next flight is from. There are always imported cars like Aston Martin or Lamborghini on display at the Doha Airport.Also a mention, AirAsia charges a huge amount of money for any of Check-in luggage; for Qatar, 23 kg is the current free-baggage-allowance.the next post has more details…….This blog was originally published on 'READALOGUE'
The Flying Pig Uptown Hostel
We landed in Amsterdam, check into one of the most happening party hostels. Flying Pig Uptown - highly recommended, there is a lovely pub in the ground floor - eat, drink, party and go back to your dorm hassle free. Be aware that there are lots of young and free people around. We spent a good 3 days at this hostel, the pub converts into a lovely breakfast place in the mornings - breakfast included in the stay ( I must mention delightful staff)
Nationale Opera & Ballet
On Tuesdays from 12:30–13:00, performers from the Dutch Philharmonic and Opera stage free lunchtime gigs in the foyer of their contemporary venue on Waterlooplein. The concerts take place during the cultural season, September–May. Guided tours of the National Opera & Ballet are sometimes offered.
From 10‒21:30 daily, meter-high chess pieces appear on a giant board on Max Euweplein, a square bordered by touristy shops and cafés including the always buoyant Hard Rock. Named for a world champion Dutch chess player of the ’30s, this is where you can challenge the locals in a free game or just watch the action from the sidelines.
Screaming Beans Hartenstraat
Screaming Beans is open all day as a café and wine bar, with a black marble counter, low lighting and tinted mirrors. From a busy kitchen behind a see through, wine cabinet wall comes culinary perfection: prawn with ginger, red pepper, orange zest and radish carrots with marinade onion and sumac.
Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam
Visit the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam, a sunlit temple of print and electronic media. Alongside books and multimedia, the seven-story structure overlooking the Ij River houses a 250-seat theater, radio station, meeting rooms, exhibition space, music department, study pods and readers’ café. A restaurant with an outdoor terrace provides panoramic views of the city.
Amsterdam Public Library
If you think all libraries are created equal, visit this sunlit temple of print and electronic media to change your mind. Since opening in 2007 on the Oosterdokseiland, a five minute walk heading east from Central Station, Europe’s largest public library has drawn some 2.5 million visitors annually. Alongside books and multimedia, the seven-story structure overlooking the Ij River houses a 250-seat theater, radio station, meeting rooms, exhibition space, music department, study pods and readers’ café. A restaurant with an outdoor terrace provides panoramic views of the city. Visitors are welcome to use any of 600 Internet-connected computers, 50 multimedia workstations, 110 reference terminals and 11 print stations. You can also browse newspapers and magazines from around the world at no charge. If you’re lucky, someone will be showcasing some talent on the lobby piano or a special exhibit, film showing, reading, concert, lecture or workshop may be scheduled. Need to e-mail Mom, book a hostel or check Facebook? It’s possible seven days a week in Amsterdam’s Most Sustainable Public Building—its public library.
Amsterdam Architecture Foundation
Amsterdam’s mix of eclectic architectural styles is no accident. Since 1986, it’s been overseen by the Amsterdam Architecture Foundation (ARCAM), founded to shape the future of urban design in Holland. At no cost, browse exhibits of uber-cool contemporary design or chat with staff about digital guides to architecture along city tram routes and other free resources. In addition to raising awareness about urban design, ARCAM works with rising stars in the architectural field, as well as institutions influencing city architecture. Five annual exhibitions present new developments alongside a historical perspective of urban design in Amsterdam. Set in a funky, transparent aluminum structure, fronting the NEMO Museum near Central Station, ARCAM will inspire anyone interested in urban design.
I don’t like snakes and I am horrible with art (creating or interpreting), so when I had the opportunity to visit the CoBrA museum, I wasn’t sure if I should be terrified or just nervous. As it turns out, the CoBrA museum has nothing to do with snakes – well not live ones anyway. Located in the city of Amstelveen, the museum focuses on the European avant-garde movement, named CoBrA, which was active from 1948 – 1951. The word CoBrA is actually made up of the initials of the member’s home cities – Co for Copenhagen, Br for Brussels and A for Amsterdam – and a curled snake became their symbol. As we moved through the gallery looking at different paintings made by famous artists including Karel Appel, Constant and Asger Jorn the inevitable question that makes my heart beat faster and my palms begin to sweat was asked. To CoBrA, anyone can make art and anyone can interpret it. Gone are the ideas that you need formal training, a worked out plan and years of effort to make a painting. You just show up, do the job based on your thoughts at the moment and then you move on. And it is equally true when it comes to looking at the art. What to you is a dog is to me a cat and is to both of us a tree tomorrow. No hard feelings, no artists getting upset because you missed the point and no need for sweating hands when someone asks you “what do you see?” I left the CoBrA museum feeling quite inspired, maybe even tempted to make a little art myself. At the very least I had a new foundation for approaching art and a greater respect for the group that was the cause of my change in perspective.
Museum van Loon
You can step back in time at Museum van Loon, one of the best preserved of Amsterdam’s canal houses, offering a glimpse into the grandeur of 17th-century Holland. Built as a private residence in 1672, the museum was once the home of painter Ferdinand Bol (a pupil of Rembrandt). In 1884, wealthy merchant Hendrik Van Loon purchased it as a wedding gift for his son Willem, a founding member of the Dutch East India Company, whose grandson became mayor of Amsterdam. Today, its ornate detailing, historic paintings, exquisite furnishings, and precious silver and porcelain are reminders of the splendor of an earlier era. In the rear, a garden laid out in formal style borders a coach house where the Van Loon’s collection of historic carriages and harnesses is displayed.
U2 live at Ziggo DomeEvery journey needs to have a great ending. I had mine when I watched U2 live in Amsterdam. Even though I bought my pass from somebody at thrice the price, it was worth every euro. It was an experience I cannot describe in words. Hence i'll let this picture speak for itself.
Amsterdam’s floating flower market is a fine source for high-quality flora. Pick up a bag of tulip bulbs for the folks back home and they’ll thank you when they receive the gift, then think of you again in spring when the blooms come up. The thoughtful souvenir will cost you a few euros, but it’s free to smell the roses and photograph the stunning blooms at this fragrant open flower market lining Singel Canal between Muntplein and Koningsplein.
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Across the way, the Stedelijk Museum , also now up and running after a 10 years hiatus, brings Matisse, Chagall and Bruce Nauman into the fray, as well as video art, performances, an exceptional collection of De Stijl, and designs including Ettore Sottsass teapots and the famous Gerrit Rietveld chair.
Built in 1408, this soaring church has been the stage for royal weddings and coronations, including King Willem’s marriage to Maxima and his crowning as Holland’s first king in a century in 2013. Now used for major art exhibitions, it has a gift shop that leads to a free display about the church’s turbulent history.
Tired of highbrow culture? Sample a lighter approach to art devoted to a single theme at one of Amsterdam’s quirkiest museums: Katten Kabinet. While professionally curated, this homage to all things feline has a humorous edge. The collection features two floors of paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures by Picasso, Rembrandt, Toulouse-Lautrec and other renowned masters, all with cats on center stage. There is a gift shop on the first floor proffers cat-themed posters and souvenirs. Even if cats aren’t your thing, it may be worth the €6 entry fee just for the chance to enter a posh canal house on the Herengracht, where Dutch gentry dwelled in Holland’s Golden Age. Even if cats aren’t your thing, Katten Kabinet may be worth a visit for the chance to enter a posh canal house. Built in 1667 as a residence for the wealthy van Loon brothers, the structure was restored several times before affluent Dutchie Bob Meijer turned it into a museum in 1990 dedicated to the memory of his red tomcat John Pierpont Morgan. In 2004 it served as a set for the Hollywood blockbuster Oceans 12. A-list guests have included former Amsterdam mayor Jan Calkoen and American president John Adams. The present owner still resides on the upper floor of the building with his family and several felines who wander through the museum at will.