I remembered my time in Melaka, Malaysia. Back then I stubbornly decided I would take the side trip myself because I hate tours. Tours are not for real travelers! They're for the lazy, unadventurous, and wimps. Well, I had a pretty bad time in Melaka because I didn't know how to get around to interesting sites. Lesson learned, so I booked a tour from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans, Vonlendam, and Marken to see windmills, cheese making and wooden shoe making. Totally touristy but I still wanted to see it.
I wasn't sure where exactly to book the tour nor what time they started so I woke up very early, leaving around 7:00 AM. Outside it was still very dark and, even better, it was raining. Of course it was already cold. Wonderful. People leave trash outside on the sidewalks in bags like NYC, the result is that it stinks as I walk by.
Around 7:30 it starts to hail on me, there's lightning and thunder. Great.
A funny car I saw on my way.
When I found the shops that sell tours around 8 AM they were all still closed. I ended up just walking into a place around 8:30. I think they were still closed because they didn't put their signs out until around 9:00 AM but they still serviced me.
I still had an hour to kill so I hunted down some breakfast. I got this “hawai brood” form a little bakery. People in Amsterdam don't seem to be very friendly or helpful. I've asked for recommendations when I went to get the haring and for this place here and everyone just says “everything is good” or they just shrug and don't give you a recommendation. Another traveler I met said people here “don't give a shit about you”. Ha, maybe. It could also be that since Amsterdam attracts basically all these idiots looking to party, do drugs, and sleep with hookers they get a ton of bad elements. The people that live here just live here and want to go about their lives but keep running into idiots from abroad. Either way, this ends up with people that aren't too friendly to tourists. If you're standing around lost with a map nobody will stop to help, however if you ask for help they will answer your question, no more, no less.
Saw little towns like this during my bus ride.
Alright so got on the bus when it was time to board, about 9:15 and our first stop was Zaanse Schans. There were industrial windmills here still in used. The one I visited was being used to create colors for crayons or something like that.
Windmills! I have fulfilled my vision of the stereotypical Holland! There are not that many windmills left in Holland and I believe all are protected now by the government.
All of these are Industrial Windmills as opposed to say a water windmill.
Bridge to cheese making.
Cross this bridge and enter the building on the right to view cheese making and of course the gift shop.
Cheese, salt water used in the cheese making process.
Props used in the cheese making demonstration below.
There was also a short presentation on how to make cheese. Here's the video of the presentation and some pictures of the samples I ate afterwards. Yes, I ate every sample.
Cheese samples for us afterward the demo.
Some prices for the cheese here.
This stoopwafel is a syrup waffle cookie. They're really really good, I had to get some. I will miss these when I leave Holland.
Stroopwafel, yummy, samples being put out by a girl in a traditional outfit.
After the cheese shop it was back outside to look at windmills again.
I paid to enter one of the windmills. It was still in use actually. This windmill was being used to grind chalk which ultimately is used to make pastel crayons. Each stone here weighs over 6500 pounds! They actually have to be taken out of service when the wind dies. This is done via a slider mechanism which was not open to the public.
The view across the water from the windmill I was allowed to enter.
Too much bread and we dead!