76 Kms from The Hague
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.
78 Kms from The Hague
Yes, pot is legal in Amsterdam, and yes, you can smoke a joint or eat a pot brownie wherever and whenever you like. While this is reason enough to go, there's so much more that you and your travel partner can do in Amsterdam. If you have a thing for art then it'll be paradise for you. You can't walk on the street without stumbling upon a modern masterpiece of art. If walking is not your thing, you can take a boat ride in the Amstel River till the night dawns and then go out partying again. And there are cycles on rent too, for approximately INR 400 a day.Free or inexpensive things to do while here: Board a free ferry to the Noord Amsterdam neighbourhood and admire the entire city. Rijksmuseum is also a must-visit for art lovers, since it houses many European masterpieces. You can also visit a free jazz concert or a classical lunch concert. If you go during summer, the Vondelpark Festival is free to all.Where to eat: Here are the three cheap but outstanding places to eat in Amsterdam: 1. Broodje Bert at Singel, 2. Mook Panckaes at De Clercqstraat, 3. Jacketz at Kinkerstraat. All three serve vegetarian food as well.Where to stay: Following are two beautiful options to ensure that this becomes one of your cheapest European trips under 50k.
139 Kms from The Hague
The capital of Belgium is one of the most fascinating cities in Europe since it is filled with as many historical insignias as its modern counterparts. Being the administrative capital of EU, Brussels is also understandably bureaucratic to some extent. What's really enviable here is the beauty of everyday things. The roadside cafes and bars are designed to welcome and not merely to swindle. The overall humour is deadpan, but hilarious. It's an outstanding city and one of the relatively cheap European destinations from India.Free or inexpensive things to do while here: You can chill at the many gorgeous parks in the city, such as Parc de Woluwe, Bois de la Cambre, Square Ambiorix, Parc Leopold, and more. To mingle with royalty at the Royal Palace is also absolutely free and will be memorable for life. Visit the Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military without a ticket.Where to eat: Here are the three cheap but outstanding places to eat in Brussels: 1. Tonton Garby at Rue Duquesnoy, 2. Bia Mara at Rue du Marche aux Poulets, 3. Fritland at Rue Henri Maus. All three serve vegetarian food as well.Where to stay: What makes Brussels one of the cheapest European destinations from India is its budget stays. Here are two options.
152 Kms from The Hague
If you've seen the cult dark comedy In Bruges, you know exactly what to expect in this peculiar city. It's a prominent world heritage site according to UNESCO and that automatically makes it a haven for art connoisseurs. It's also called the "Venice of the North" so you can imagine how many new fairytales of your own you can create whilst walking down the cobbled roads to the whitewashed facades of historic churches. Spring is meant for daffodil carpets spread all over the city.Famous for: Beer and art.Things to do: Climb up the 366 stairs of the medieval Belfry Tower. Admire the flemish primitive artworks at Groeninge Museum.Weather in January: Average temperature is 5 degrees celsius. Remains dry, but nippy.Average budget per head for 5 days (excluding flights): Rs. 62,000For more details, read this.