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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.
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191 Kms from Zaanse Schans
We took an early morning bus (7am) from Paris to Brussels. We reached Brussels at around 10 am and proceeded to our AirBnB accommodation. We spent just one day at Brussels. We first visited Grand Palais and then walked around till Mannekin Pis statue. There is a Tin Tin Mural at a walking distance. There are awesome Belgian waffles and chocolate shops in the city center. We then took a tram till Atomium and then went to Palais de justice. The Royal gallery hosts great restaurants with reasonable rates.We ended the day with the dinner at the Royal gallery.
227 Kms from Zaanse Schans
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.
201 Kms from Zaanse Schans
Beautiful Small Town with amazing churches and lots of history.