Sunday, October 16, 2016

Zaanse Schans & Amsterdam: Whirlwind Windmill Tour

Girl at the Windmill dock, Zaanse Schans

One of the best parts about moving so many times (even for a few months) is the number of people coming to visit you. I love having guests! Robby was just here for five wonderful days, visiting me from Barcelona (and helping me program my PhD scripts at the same time...). It was a fantastic (semi) break from the PhD and the craziness that is my life at the moment. I'm staying here in the Netherlands until the end of November and hope to fully enjoy a few cities on the weekends while I intensely work during the week.

Culture Boats, Etc (Utrecht).

Wednesday night we chilled in Utrecht, and took our bikes to town. My roommates were really great and lent Robby a bike, so we headed to town, parked and walked to The Culture Boat. It's the only remaining floating cafe. Apparently they closed a lot of the floating bars, cafes and coffee shops that used to be on the water. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture for you. Imagine a large houseboat with wooden planked floors and many windows, covered in white Christmas-lights and lit up on a calm, tranquil canal in the pitch black night. They serve a small selection of refreshments right on the waterfront. Beautiful.

Hop and Stork cafe, Utrecht
If you're in Utrecht itself, make sure you check out the beautiful church in the city centre (Domplein), and then head Hop & Stork, my favourite cafe. They have a perfect cappuccino for 3.50 (that's regular price for Holland - eek!). It comes with a beautiful piece of chocolate and a very yummy mini chocolate mousse, though! Yum!


Robby at Grotemarkt, Den Haag
On Thursday, we headed to Amsterdam for the morning. It was freezing cold (think: London, England in the winter) so we took a canal cruise, found some hot chocolate and snapped some photos of the boats on the canal. It made me think that I'd really like to try houseboating one day - that'd be a really cool trip!

I've included a few highlights from Amsterdam in the slideshow below that I missed in my last post about the Anne Frank Huis Museum. I also went to Cold Press Juicery, a very expensive, but yummy smoothie place (with some Canadian staff!). Oh, and I went to the Tulip Museum (ok, I just peeked in and didn't pay the 3 euros to see flowers...) and the Cheese Museum, which was not too different from the cheese factory museum in Zaanse Schans (see below).

Python Day & Den Haag

Friday was fantastic - a great workout in the morning, followed by Robby attending my Python/programming class (and realizing why I'm not learning much!). The prof basically just typed code up on a screen (in a corpus programming language we have NOT learned), asked us to replicate it on our own laptops, blatantly refused to answer questions and expected us to do an assignment. It's a good thing I'm auditing the course, not taking it for credit - this corpora assignment definitely falls under the "waste of my time" category, especially as it's not Python. I'll spend that time on my own data analysis, thanks!

We headed out to Den Haag to meet one of the (really awesome!) profs I'm working with here for a drink at a cinema/bar called Filmhuis and then for dinner in Grote Markt, a very cute area with restaurants and bars. Saturday was rainy, so we ended up spending the afternoon studying at a cafe in Utrecht and then chilled with movie night in the evening. We were hoping to catch the wine canal boat from Talud 9, but I guess it's only on until September (summer season!). You can see and book it halfway down the page linked above.

Zaanse Schans

This morning we took a whirlwind tour of Zaanse Schans, a cute town (and free outdoor museum) with 8 fully operational windmills. They grind items like salt, pepper, spices and cocoa. In fact, the entire town smells like chocolate! 

The beautiful path through a garden and mini river/canal leads you to a series of "museums" - the cheese museum, the Albert Heijn (grocery store) museum, bakery museum, cocoa museum, the wooden shoe museum and clock and watch museum. I put "museum" in quotes because they are really stores with a few antiques in the back section, but they are all super cute. I especially liked the clog museum - they must be very uncomfortable to wear, but they sure look great! (I suppose they are the historic version of that beautiful but uncomfortable pair of  shoes that we all own...)

Zaanse Schans windmills

Bakery Museum, Zaanse Schans

Note about the trains: If it's Sunday, be extra careful about checking train times. I've never had to wait more than 10 minutes for the next train from Utrecht-Overvecht to Utrecht-Centraal, but we waited over 20! This subsequently lead to further and further delays - it took us over two hours to get there! It was barely an hour 15 minutes on the way back though. We had about an hour and a half there, which was just about enough time. Maybe give yourself a tad more, though - time to grab a hot chocolate or a coffee at one of the restaurants or cafes. The biggest windmill place in The Netherlands is actually  Kinderdijk, but I've heard that's a bit trickier to get to by public transport. It has 19 windmills instead of 8, though!

Modern Clog, Wooden Shoe Museum

Enjoy the slideshow below - pictures of windmills, antique pieces and some fun Amsterdam shots are inside! Stay tuned for more Sunday trips around Holland!

1 comment:

Edmond G. Belanger said...
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