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.
There’s a fee to enter Amsterdam’s renowned Rijksmuseum, but access to its Baroque and Renaissance Gardens is FREE. Pick up a gratis guide to five centuries of salvaged Dutch architectural pieces, including magnificent Gothic pillars and 17th century city gates set amidst fountains and ponds. Renovated as part of the 10-year overhaul of the museum, the new outdoor gallery includes many original sculptures, ponds and lawns. New elements include post-war playground equipment, a 19th century greenhouse with heirloom vegetables, and a water maze based on a design by Danish sculptor Jeppe Hein.
Eyeing us from behind the tall glass window was a lady of big built and frizzy blonde hair who was flamboyantly dressed in black underwear. Neon lights and risqué posters adorned most of the room she was standing inside. There wasn’t a soul on the street apart from the four of us and having judged that we were a family, she continued to stare nonchalantly but never beckoned to us once. I pulled my sister by the hand, having realized that we weren’t really in a perfectly appropriate area, but the curious little nipper was a little too captivated by the novelty of the situation. My parents were probably having the same train of thoughts as mine, I’ll never know, and asked her to walk but she was busy playing staring games with the woman in black. We finally got the kid to move only to be greeted by many similar women down the street. Some even waved, winked and blew kisses, thereby amplifying the awkwardness. I was only learning to be a progressive individual but couldn’t help burying my face into a pull-out map in order to avoid the uncomfortable situation. The ordeal hadn’t really ended because we then chanced upon stores carefully tucked away into the many nooks and crannies of the street. They had neon lights similar to the ones in the aforementioned lady’s boudoir and signboards that mostly contained words like ‘XXX’ and ‘KINK’. The products on display are a little too graphic for me to describe and honestly back then, I didn’t even know what a lot of those things were. There weren’t many people we could see but the handful of customers that emanated from these shops mostly had weirdly blood-shot eyes. I could see my father walking faster than usual, hoping to get out of this particular neighbourhood but everything was a maze. We tried locating ourselves on the map every now and then but the puzzle just wouldn’t get solved. Everything around us either wasn't marked with an address or was in Dutch. We were tired and famished and after a point, we didn't really care about being lost in a city we hardly knew. All we wanted was food. And that's when the Gods descended on the planet in the form of a tall, bulky man with greasy hair, a face that was evidently bruised in places and a very conspicuous black eye.We would have definitely avoided him had he not been standing outside what was apparently an almost empty pizzeria. “Lost? Food? I ‘ave pizza”, he said. We looked at each other, my mother had the most vexed expression on her face. After a few minutes of pondering, we finally gave in to our growling stomachs and stepped inside this strange establishment which surprisingly smelled of cheese and tomatoes. We were handed a large but dirty menu and this scary but somewhat kind man recommended a few pizzas, two of which we ordered. When the food arrived, it looked pretty good and we couldn’t really investigate it for narcotics or poison as we had ravenously polished off everything on the plate within minutes. The server came a second time with the menu but on this occasion, he was more interested in asking us where we were from and how we managed to get lost despite having a map. He then proceeded to talk at length about his pizzeria, his friends, his parents, his Italian heritage, his ex-girlfriend, his medical history and a few other things we had tuned out. He laughed a lot at trivial things, munched on some chips during the entire monologue and his voice was louder than a wailing baby. Irrespective of whatever it was that he was tripping on, he did provide us directions to the main street which finally helped us find our way back to our apartment. On our way out, we saw a beautiful blonde woman walk up to him and they exchanged a few profanities in raised voices followed by some currency. She walked away with one of the customers in the pizzeria while our big friend was busy counting the cash.I was lost in a Red Light District in Amsterdam and had lunch with a seemingly menacing pimp and I can't wait to take a second trip to this roller coaster of a city. I like to live my life dangerously. How about you?
Once headquartered in Vondelpark, the new center for this homage to international cinema perches like an ivory spaceship ready for launch on the northern bank of the Ij River. Its art-house movies and main-floor exhibitions have entry fees, but the interactive film displays in the basement are FREE. The striking facility houses four movie screening rooms, a museum shop and exhibit space. To reach it, take the free Buiksloterweg ferry behind Central Station. Before leaving, refuel with a plate of bitterballen and beer on tap, served in the eye-popping EYE Bar restaurant.
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
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.
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;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'
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.
The quirky and the classic, rough edges and easy charm, high art and playful design: Amsterdam packages it all in an alluring, eye catching and accessible way rather like one of those grand doll’s houses at the Rijksmuseum. A former curator at the V and A and the Photographers’ Gallery in London, Addie Vassie came to Amsterdam in 2001 and runs Gallery Vassie in the canal district. She lets us in on the Dutch city’s photography highlights.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Young Designers United
Van Ravenstein is a one – stop shop for fashion by Dutch and Flemish designers, and fresh talent gets a look in at Young Designers United. While you’re shopping, keep an eye out for sculpted shoes from Jan Jansen and daringly coloured bags and briefcases by Hester van Eeghen.
Across the road from the Stedelijk, Italian interior designer Piero Lisoni brings muted tones and austere lines to a 19th - century bank building at the conservationism. Some original features remain (fin-de-siecle wall tiles and stained glass), and there’s ingenious use of space, such as split – level suites in more cavernous rooms.
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.
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.
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.
Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht
The vast atrium lobby/lounge is a prime spot to take a break from the museum, trail. Marcel Wanders is being the quirky interiors at the new Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht. The rooms have all the gear for a cool city break, with walk in wardrobes, great sound equipment, espresso machines and video art on the TV.