Windmill Watching In Zaanse Schans

August 17, 2016

By Tab Byrum

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We knew if we were going to the Netherlands we had to see windmills and a Dutch friend of mine had told me about Zaanse Schans, a neighborhood northwest of Amsterdam that is home to several historic windmills as well as historic cottages all along the banks of the Zaan River. The journey was just a short train ride away, I want to take this moment to tell you that the Dutch train system is VERY easy to navigate and the people working at Centraal Station in Amsterdam were always very helpful in getting us where we wanted to go. We rode the train from Amsterdam to the train station closest to Zaanse Schans and walked into town, now I have to tell you that the village is just across the river from the Zaans Gedaans Cocoa Labs, so we were basically in a town with a chocolate factory. At times during the day all you could smell was chocolate, the day we were there it was gray, cloudy, and breezy so we were getting wafts of chocolate riding on the air all day long, it was wonderful. The windmills at Zaanse Schans are all still working, some are lumber mills, one grinds mustard and for a fee, you can go up in them and get a closer view. We walked the whole village and around the windmills, we had lunch in a charming pub, took tons of pictures that I’ll share some of today, then headed back to Amsterdam. I’m so glad we visited Zaanse Schans, it was very charming as were all the people living and working in the village. If you visit Amsterdam definitely put Zaanse Schans on your “to do” list. Enjoy!!!

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The view as we were walking towards the village with four of the five windmills in the distance. 

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Many of the houses and cottages were moved here and saved from destruction. 

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The opposite bank of the river with more wonderful homes. 

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Almost there…

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This was the first thing you saw as you finished crossing the bridge and entered the village, what a wonderful sight to see. 

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This just made me want to come home and start planning a hydrangea garden for next year, and there were so many more of these wonderful spots in the village of Zaanse Schans.

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This garden was in front of this charming tea house that housed a pewter workshop and store. We went inside and the lovely lady told us that the building used to be on the estate of a wealthy family in their garden, it’s where they would take tea in the afternoons. The building was moved here many years ago to keep it from being destroyed, it looks perfect here. 

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The houses are all very charming, they’re a combination of brick and wood with decorative trim. I could definitely live in one of these and people do, it’s hard to imagine having tourists milling around your front door all day but I guess you might get used to it. 

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We followed the signs back to the windmills, the paths took us across bridges and through small gardens. This area of land was surrounded by water on three sides and a fence on the far end to keep the sheep in one area. 

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We passed through this area that was surrounded by hedges with a boxwood garden in the center and this armillary in the center of the boxwoods. There were benches all around that you could sit on and rest in a quiet, pretty spot. 

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As I said earlier people live in these houses and have all their animals including chickens. I’m not sure if we are watching the chickens or if they’re watching us. 

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Just a quick selfie with the windmills in the background. We wore jackets all day on this day, the temp was in the 60’s and it misted off and on, definitely different than coming home to 100 degrees and a warm drying breeze. 

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The windmills are really cool to see up close and in person, they were used in the beginning to help pump the water off the land and back out to sea, most of the Netherlands is below sea level and protected by a system of dikes holding back the sea.

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All of the windmills are working windmills and they all have shops attached to them, this one is a chocolate shop and one whole wall of the shop is covered in these antique chocolate molds. Any shape you could think of was hanging on this wall. 

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We had lunch here at De Tweekoppige Phoenix (The Two-headed Phoenix). A wonderful place to sit for a while, have a little nosh and something to drink. 

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I enjoyed the sausage and cheese plate with a glass of rosé.

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This garden area was beside a shop. 

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This was someone’s front yard. 

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It was a wonderful day in Zaanse Schans and I’m so glad we did it.

I hope you enjoyed our trip to Zaanse Schans, if you’re ever in the area definitely check it out. Check back tomorrow as we head to The Hague and a very charming museum. 

All words and images
are my own.

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