417 Kms from Bielefeld
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.
405 Kms from Bielefeld
The next morning we did a tour of the Amsterdam canal by the cruise followed by the Heineken Experience. The rest of the day went much about walking around the city and shopping for some souvenirs. We had dinner at Het Karbeel - one the best restaurents known for serving Cheese Fondue.
236 Kms from Bielefeld
Germany's second largest city has a sophisticated demeanour, behind which lurks mischief and abandon. Hamburg is considerably smaller than Berlin, more tight-night and connected, and yet thoroughly eclectic when it comes to art and music.Getting around in HamburgThe U-Bahn is the best way to explore most of Hamburg's sights. A lot of walking will inevitably be involved. A single day pass for unlimited use of all public transport costs €6.20 a day for adults, €2.30 for children aged 6 to 14. Bike rentals are available, but not as accessible or widely advertised as in Berlin
216 Kms from Bielefeld
Montag: Willkommen to Frankfurt“Gutenmorgen” was the first word I heard as I stepped off the plane at Frankfurt airport. The neat and clean city has a cosmopolitan and modern character, complete with block-shaped houses, tall, square-shaped steel buildings, and several banks and other offices. I crossed the famous 'Working Man' statue in downtown Frankfurt, which embodies the true nature of labour laws in the city.
439 Kms from Bielefeld
Leipzig had the largest Hauptbahnhof in Europe until Berlin usurped it. This seems to be the trade fair capital of Germany and an important city for such throughout Europe dating back centuries. What we did not know was that Leipzig was having a Goth festival. As we were walking and admiring the beautiful architecture, there were many other sights to see walking along side of us. For music lovers, which I do not count amongst the many, Leipzig is where Johann Sebastian Bach lived for a good part of his life and was the Kantor in the Thomaskirche. He is buried in the choir with the Bach archives across the street. Felix Mendelssohn headed the Gewandhaus Orchestra and founded the first conservatory in Germany. Richard Wagner was born here, receiving his musical training here. This city also boasts Germany’s first stock exchange.