For my 30th birthday, my boyfriend offered me the perfect gift: a trip to Amsterdam and tickets to a U2 concert! And since it was our second time in the city, we figured we would spend the time exploring other places outside the Dutch capital, such as Zaanse Schans – the Windmill City.
I have to admit that before this trip, I had no idea about what else could be seen and visited in The Netherlands apart from well Amsterdam, windmills, the tulip fields in May and of course, The Hague. After doing a little bit of research (you know, the usual ask a friend, ask a colleague, search on Pinterest kind of thing), I ended up with a plan. A very good plan.
My boyfriend was terrified and mortified he will have to walk the 20 – 30 km per day I usually do on city breaks, but he went along with it. After all, it was my birthday, right? The only thing complaining every now and then, was his walking app, alerting him that he has broken yet another record!
With that in mind, we set out for Zaanse Schans on a lovely Summer morning.
How to get there?
Getting from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans could not be easier and it takes only 4 train stops and 20 minutes, making it the perfect way of spending half of day. You just need to go to Amsterdam Centraal and take the first train passing through Zaandijk – Zaanse Schans, where you will need to exit the train.
Make sure to buy a ticket from the train station in Amsterdam, it will cost you 4,2 EUR one – way, and don’t forget to validate it before getting on the train.
What to do in Zaanse Schans – The Windmill City?
Ok, so you took the train, got off at the right station, asked the nice guy in the coffee shop how to find the windmills and you are on your way to …well…this small Paradise. The first thing that stroke me since I step foot on the main street leading to the windmills of Zaanse Schans was the smell. Yes, you read it right, the smell! Oh, what a wonderful smell that was!
This is one of the few times when I wished cameras could record also the smell of a place. In this little fairy tale city, the air was filled with chocolate dust! I felt like opening my mouth wide and take all the air in, without risking of gaining any weight! And I really did it, forgot I was actually turning 30 not 13, even encouraging my boyfriend to do the same!
And now to answer the question you are asking yourself: where did the smell come from? Well, as you might know, The Netherlands used to be a great (the greatest for a period) colonial power in the world, thus bringing large amounts of spices on water from different distant places such as Indonesia. You’ve guessed it, in Zaanse Schans you will find a chocolate and cocoa factory and a chocolate museum. Unfortunately, when we got there, the museum was closed but still got to see the demonstrations people make in all the small shops in town, but maybe you will be luckier than us and get to see the real deal 🙂
Sit down and sip a cup of hot chocolate! I have to admit I almost missed this, choosing to drink a glass of prosecco instead, but luckily someone else was smarter and made me try the cocoa. And boy I’m happy I did it! Never have I tasted something similar, so silky, so dense, with such an intense taste! Make sure to try it!
Drink your chocolate and walk around on the small streets between the waters, admire the view, the flowers in bloom so beautifully colored, the old windmills (you can even visit some of them, free of charge, get to see how people used to live in the 18th century and what the windmills were used for).
Make sure not to miss the cheese museum, having a chance to taste all sort of cheese variety, the clog workshop where you will have a tough job choosing between hundreds of types and colors of clogs, the bakery museum, and the fisherman’s cottage.
Before planning a day in Zaanse Schans, the windmill village, you might want to check out the timetables for all the museums, cafes and restaurants, and you can do that by accessing this link.
What stroke me the most?
Apart from the beauty of the houses? Yes, they are just stunning, straight out of a story.
I guess you got my point 😀 But the thing that stroke me the most was the moving bridge. I had never before seen something similar! How traffic stopped for the bridge to open like a gate and the ship to pass through it. Amazing!
So here it is, my perfect day at Zaanse Schans, the Windmill and Chocolate City. What have I missed? What should I have done more? Hit comment below and let me know!