Zaanse Schans

I have this thing with windmills

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have already noticed my ‘thing’ with churches (not for religious reasons, I might add) street art, bitterballen (obviously…) and most recently: windmills.

Yep, I’m in the land of windmills, so they’re kinda hard to avoid… but in the past few months I’ve been going out of my way to visit them. Last weekend we legit took a trip to Kinderdijk for the sole purpose of looking at molens.

Here are my favourites so far!

1. Kinderdijk

As I’ve already mentioned it, let’s start with Kinderdijk, Dutch for “children dike”. (WTF!?)

Situated close to Dordrecht and Rotterdam, there are 19 windmills here! They don’t just look pretty – they have a purpose – draining the polder on which Kinderdijk is situated. Don’t know what a polder is?

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I say it’s situated close to Rotterdam and Dordrecht… but it is and it isn’t. (Look at this map.) Due to its slightly offbeat location, you’re better off travelling to Kinderdijk by car as it’s a pain in the arse to get there by public transport. Parking is €5 and you could spend 1-3 hours here depending on how much walking you want to do. There’s also a little cafe and gift shop, should you wish to partake in such activities.

Kinderdijk

Kinderdijk

Oh and if you fancy staying in the area, we spotted this ridiculously cute B&B called De Noord. I can’t vouch for it, but if you make this much effort outside it’s probably alright inside too 😉

B&B Kinderdijk

2. Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans is my go-to tourist paradise for anyone visiting The Netherlands. Its close proximity to Amsterdam and Schiphol airport is also pretty ideal. We often take visitors here before dropping them off at the airport – a lovely way to round off a trip to Holland!

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Dutch windmills

Zaanse Schans

View from De Vijf Broers, which sadly, is now closed 😦

Unless you want to visit the Zaanse Schans Museum, it doesn’t take all that long to walk around, so it’s perfectly combined with a trip to nearby Zaandam to see this bad boy…

Inntel Hotel, Zaandam

Inntel Hotel, Zaandam

If you want more info, I have already written a post dedicated to Zaanse Schans, just to prove how much I love it!

Speaking of… we also bought a picture last time we were there:

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Which was marvellous until we got home and realised the black building is the toilet block! FAIL! You get one guess where we’ve hung it!!

3. Brouwerij ‘t IJ

A modern brewery, set next to a windmill in Amsterdam… what more could you ask for?

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Well, to be honest, it is a bit of a hag to get to – although totally worth it! Either get a train to Muiderpoort and it’s a 10 minute walk, or get a bus/tram. No advice on that… I’m not a bus wanker! (If you get that joke, you must be English and have excellent taste in comedy! FRIEND!!!!!)

Brouwerij 't IJ

Brouwerij 't IJ

The beer is delicious, as are the snacks. There are (very) limited food choices… (NO BITTERBALLEN!!) but if you like cheese and Dutch sausage as much as I do, you’ll be well catered for.

4. De Molen, Ankeveen

This windmill is the closest one to Hilversum I know, so worth a mention.

De Molen, Ankeveen

We’ve eaten here a couple of times – the food is ok, simple, nothing to write home about (bar the French Onion soup which was really good!) It’s a cafe/bar though so you can just visit for a hot drink or a borrel, complete with bitterballen natuurlijk! 

5. Molen de Ster, Utrecht

(The Star Windmill.) Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know there was a windmill in Utrecht! It turns out there are two! The other is on Adelaarstraat, named Rijn en Zon – Rhine and Sun.

Molen de Ster, Utrecht

Molen de Ster, Utrecht

Molen de Ster is an 18th-century saw mill. It’s open on Saturdays for guided tours and the rest of time there’s a cafe and other cultural activities going on. A very cute place to visit; near central station, set alongside a canal and it’s also close to Lombok if you fancy stocking up on some fresh produce while you’re there. Ideal!

Next on my windmill-spotting list is Schiedam!

Where’s your favourite windmill?

Hayley x

 

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(Dutch-related) Stuff That Happened In March 2015

Bit of a quiet month blog-wise as March has been a reeeeeally busy month at work (yep – I have a real job and everything!) Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like it’ll let up anytime soon, so you’ll probably only be hearing from me about once a week for the next few months. Just so you know and that. I haven’t been kidnapped.

Tomorrow we’re off to Brussels (for one night) en route to France to see my parents for a few days. (Yep, the ‘rents are expats too – they moved to France a couple of weeks after I moved to Holland!)

So before we go off gallivanting… here’s some stuff that happened this month.

 1. Rediscovering Etsy 

I’m very happy to have discovered some extremely talented Dutch illustrators in the past month… Introducing Kim Bell Illustrations. Love her work!!

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After living here for nearly a year… the office/blogging den/spare room is finally finished! (Crikey, we are terrible DIYers!!)

I was looking for some funky postcards to frame and brighten up my office –  so there’s the obvious, Paperchase, but their delivery rates to the Netherlands are ridiculous (£5 for a postcard… huh??) so I decided to look elsewhere.

Bravo, Etsy! Bravo!

These fine specimens are from a seller named Darveelicious:

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I also bought postcards from Moa Gift Ideas, Steak & Eggs Please and Le Lapin Blanc. I specifically opted for Dutch illustrators / Etsy shops (with the exception of Steak & Eggs Please) because they ship to the Netherlands (obviously) but also because they are friggin’ awesome. Why look further afield when there is so much talent right here in the Netherlands? Can you tell I’m a BIT excited about this!?!?

And the final result…

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I should probably also show you the other side of the room, aka the Blogging Den, but hmmmm my desk is a bit of a mess now… and can I be arsed to tidy it for photos? No.

2. Clog slippers

Possibly the best slippers ever? The Dutchie has been without slippers for about six years, but whilst in tourist paradise at Zaanse Schans, he was sucked in by the clog slippers.

Nothing to do with me, honest!

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3. Visiting Haarlem, Zaanse Schans & Gouda

Pretty impressed I made it to three new places in March. In case you missed those posts, there was A Quickie in Haarlem and Tourist Paradise – Zaanse Schans.

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I didn’t write a post about Gouda because, well, there were no rose-tinted spectacles involved!! ‘Twas a dreary and cold day and the photos I took on my iphone just didn’t do it any justice. My American friend and I did however discover a fantastic cafe thanks to Sophie in Clogs (big thanks again, Sophie!) This is an especially good tip for mamas who are visiting Gouda… we went with a one year old and the place was totally kid-friendly. It’s unofficially split into two parts, the right-wing for kiddie winks (with loads of toys and high chairs etc) and the left-hand side for grown ups who’d like to enjoy their coffee in adult company.

Zoet & Zalig (yup, that’s my full review on Trip Advisor) is most definitely off the beaten track and if you didn’t know it was there, you’d be forgiven for walking straight past it. Here’s the entrance:

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But once inside – it’s a complete hidden gem!

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Fantastic food, beautiful interior details and a great atmosphere. It’s set in a former orphanage but they have completely transformed it – including the outside. When the weather’s nice, there’s a gorgeous courtyard with funky tables and chairs. Ohhhh and THE CAKE. I’m not at all a cake person, but their selection of cakes and tarts was too hard to resist. The coconut and pineapple taartje was stunning. If you visit Gouda, go here for coffee and cake, minimum!

4. Masterchef Holland

A new series of Masterchef Holland has started! YAY! Pretty much one of the only Dutch TV programmes I can watch! I love you guys, but you really don’t have the best TV… Thank funk for Netflix! So yeah, one of the contestants is an undertaker… or so I thought when I translated ondernemer  literally. It actually means entrepreneur! Oops!

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I have also been watching a few Dutch films: Gooische Vrouwen (yes, I know, I’m totally behind the times!!) Dunya & Desie (totally a teener film, but hey, I like Clueless!) and Jackie, which I watched last night. If anyone has any other Dutch film / series recommendations for me – preferably on Netflix – I’d love to hear them please! Trying to watch as many Dutch programmes as possible. It all helps, right? It’s still such a strange concept to me that I can actually watch films in another language. Fuck! (Sorry Mum!)

5. D’ Vijf Broers, Zaandijk

Gah! More food! Yup, pretty much sums the month up: working & eating!

You know when you go to a restaurant and fall in love? I really did with this place. D’ Vijf Broers in Zaandijk is truly unmissable if you’re visiting Zaandijk / Zaandam. Full review here.

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6. Port tasting

Oh, and we did a cheeky bit of drinking too!

Our friend works at a Gall & Gall store and we went to a port tasting evening (in Dutch might I add!) at the beginning of the month.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and although I didn’t understand absolutely everything – as there were so many technical words – it was fun and something I wouldn’t have been able to do a few months back.

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It’s not a wine tasting until you’ve spilled wine, right?

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7. Bagels & Beans

And while we’re on a food and drink theme… I have to mention Bagels & Beans which we have visited twice in the past week!! If you follow me on Instagram you will have probably already noticed my new obsession!

If there’s a Bagels & Beans in your neighbourhood and haven’t visited yet, I encourage you to do so now!

Koffie – check.

Goedkoop – check.

Lekker – check.

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There is a distinct lack of bitterballen in this post!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??

Have a great weekend everyone!

Hayley x

6 Reasons you should go to Zaanse Schans

This totally sounds like a sponsored post, but NOPE. Just a cool place to go for a few hours, especially if you’re feeling a bit sad and want to smile from ear to ear.

1. Are you a tourist? 

Are you entertaining a tourist? Are you new to the Netherlands? Do you like clogs, windmills, tulips and everything quintessentially Dutch? You NEED to go to Zaanse Schans.

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2. Are you Dutch? 

You will still love it. Yes, it is a tourists paradise… but that doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy it. Be a tourist in your own country for the day. (The Dutchie actually bought these, with absolutely no prompting from me!)

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3. Close proximity to Amsterdam

Zaanse Schans is located in Zaandijk, Zaandam. It’s less than 20 minutes on the train from Amsterdam Centraal. (The closest station is Koog-Zaandijk and from there it’s about a 15 min walk… or you can just take the bus which takes about 40 mins.) The perfect location for a day trip from Amsterdam. You can easily fill half a day, or more if you visit the Zaans Museum.

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4. It’s real, sort of…

It looks and feels like an open-air museum, but people actually live here! It’s a working community that dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries. All kinds of buildings, windmills, barns and houses were relocated here from across the Zaan region, piece by piece, since 1961.

It is also home to the first ever Albert Heijn (the Netherlands most famous Dutch grocery store chain) which started business in Zaandam in 1887.

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5. D’ Vijf Broers

So technically this isn’t in  Zaanse Schans… but it’s within spitting distance, so it counts in my book! A fantastic bar, restaurant and hotel set alongside the Zaan river. Better than the food outlet offerings within Zaanse Schans itself (a pancake house and a crazy ass expensive place)… so worth crossing the bridge for! It has panoramic views of the Zaanse Schans windmills with a large terrace to enjoy the view on sunny days! See here for my full review.

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6. Windmills

There are no less than SIX windmills at Zaanse Schans! Five of which are functioning and open to the public. The other is just for show 😉 There are also two mini-windmills and model windmills within the grounds, so you’ll be spoilt for choice. Read more about the windmills.

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If I’ve already persuaded you to go, here’s the Zaanse Schans website for all the practical stuff.

If not, here are a ton more photos.

Hayley x

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