We had half a day after arriving in Amsterdam. I loved seeing the city, the amazing buildings along the canals. Each building looks to be leaning in some direction. We walked to the square and then just explored around streets. I love architecture and old buildings so this is one of my favorite things to do.
After exploring the city a while we headed to Marken which is an old fishing town about 30 minute drive from Amsterdam. The drive was beautiful since you’re driving alongside the dyke with ocean on one side and fields of horses and farm land on the other. You can visit a shop to see how the Dutch Clogs are made. (These clogs are used in the watery flower fields and help them to walk on top of the mud… I had no idea) Then we just walked through the houses to get to the Harbor. The houses are all built on poles because of how much water surrounds the town. We sat and relaxed there watching the water.
The next day we did a driving tour of the Netherlands. Our first stop was
Muiden - Beautiful brick housed little town with a castle on the water. The castle was actually closed which is a theme to our luck that you'll catch on to. But it was still really fun to walk around and see the beautiful views surrounding the castle.
Naarden - I LOVED Naarden. The town is built with two star shaped moats surrounding it. You can walk or bike along the moats. We happened to be visiting on a Saturday so there was a local market going on. We ate the yummiest strawberries I’ve ever had and sampled cheeses and finished with stroopwaffles.
We also visited the church that’s in the center of town. It is a beautiful cathedral with murals on the wood ceiling. Though it was built in the 1500s it almost had a modern farmhouse feel with it’s rustic wood and painted white stone walls. The cathedral has canons marking where it was hit during a war. One of the cute ladies working there was telling us about how they tried to destroy everything but couldn't reach the ceiling so it was preserved. We got a good laugh out of picturing that.
Next we headed to Kinderdijk which is famous for it’s many old windmills built in the 1700s. These windmills are still functioning and work as a backup for the modern pumps that send water to canals and back to the ocean. This technology has been used in the Netherlands for almost 1000 years. These windmills are still functioning and work as a backup for the modern pumps that send water to canals and back to the ocean. It is so crazy to me that the Dutch took land that was wet and considered undesirable and turned it into something so absolutely beautiful.
We toured through a few of the windmills. Which was really crazy to see how the families lived in such conditions. The stairs alone would be a nightmare having children and most of the families would have 10+ kids living in thee conditions, with dangerous moving clogs right inside. Not to mention the noise!!! I just can’t even imagine raising a family in there. But anyways... Kinderdijk is a must see! It was such a unique and beautiful experience and a highlight of our whole trip.
On the way home we planned to visit The Hague (a Palace on the beach) but there was a huge anniversary celebration that we didn’t know about and it was just too busy for our taste. We did however visit Delft which is famous for it’s Delftware or hand painted blue and white pottery
It was fun walking through the shops and the center of town… again we were a little late (i.e. after 6:00 haha) so a lot of the shops were closed. But there was a beautiful cathedral in town square that had been in a fire so half of the steeple is charred.
The small streets along the canal were beautiful and it was just a really charming town. Lilly pads covering the canals and flowers everywhere. Similar to Amsterdam but just on a smaller and quieter scale.
Our last stop was Zaandam - a modern dutch town - which had doll house like apartments and buildings with fountains and water features and lots of shops (again all closed because it was after 6:00). We weren’t there for very long because it started pouring rain but it was fun to see and was an easy quick stop right on the way back to Amsterdam.