After spending some time in Alkmaar, we drove a little bit more south, towards Amsterdam. Only half an hour from Alkmaar is the Zaanse Schans. It’s an area in the city of Zaandam that looks like it’s frozen in time. I had seen pictures and even though all of it looked very kitsch and slightly ridiculous, it still seemed like fun, so we decided to visit for a bit.
The Zaanse Schans looks like your typical Dutch farmland; meadows, pastures and ditches, with the occasional cow, sheep or chicken. However, it is way more than that, for it depicts how the Netherlands looked about 200 years ago. Green houses, turf roofs and windmills everywhere.
We had learned some about the history of the Netherlands in Alkmaar, when we visited the cheesemuseum, but this was something different. It actually feels like you’re walking around in the 18hundreds and you can see for yourself how Dutch people lived then.
Upon arriving, I immediately made a friend. I was taking pictures when I heard a little meowing behind me, so I turned and there was this little guy. He needed some hugs before he went on his way.
We didn’t have a lot of time, we spent about two hours walking around. First around the ditches, then a bit around the green houses that are actually little museums that will teach you more about the arts and crafts of the Netherlands. There’s a clogmaker, a bakery museum and a cheese factory. You could probably spend all day here if you wanted to visit all of the museums and get to know a little bit about the history of the country.
The feeling of walking around in the past of course isn’t complete without wooden clogs and women in traditional clothing. There are lots of clogs you can take pictures with, giving you the real Dutch feeling. Did you know that some people in the Netherlands actually still wear them? I must say that I never found them very comfortable, but my grandfather used to wear them whenever he was working outside. And one time, when I hit my head and had to go to the hospital, the doctor who stitched me up was wearing wooden clogs as well.
We didn’t visit the museums, but we had fun nonetheless. It was nice to see these parts of history brought to life. If you’re visiting the Netherlands, I would definitely recommend spending some time in the Zaanse Schans, if you want to know a little bit more about the history. Or if you’re just dying to try on some wooden shoes…