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Monday, November 28, 2016

Going Dutch - the third day

What did you expect to see in the Netherlands?

I liked Amsterdam. My wife didn't share my enthusiasm for the Netherlands' largest city - she had come to see the Dutch countryside. It was her suggestion that we make a day trip to see the windmills in the village of Zaanse Schans. And so on our third day, following breakfast at our hotel...:


...the three of us walked to Amsterdam Centraal station, where we boarded a train for the short ride to Koog Zaandijk...:


...from which we walked 1.5 kilometers, crossing the Zaan River...:


...to reach the village. Zaanse Schans is basically an open-air windmill gallery, with historic windmills and houses being brought from other parts of the country to re-create a 17th century village. It's a successful concept, with charming views at virtually every turn:



Amber tries on another Dutch icon:


With no equivalent to Thanksgiving to stand in the way (though many stores in Amsterdam and Maastricht have latched on to "Black Friday"), the Christmas decorations were already going up in the Netherlands during our brief stay, many featuring the controversial figure of Black Pete:


The clog factory was an interesting museum/souvenir shop combination:


Admiring the scenery from a lookout point. Unsurprisingly for a country where roughly half the land sits no more than a meter above sea-level, the Netherlands is flat, and makes for a cyclist's paradise:



Windmills? Check. Wooden clogs? Check. Cheese?...Check:


According to Wikipedia, the windmills below are (from left to right) Het Jonge Schaap ("The Young Sheep"), De Zoeker ("The Seeker"), De Kat ("The Cat") and De Gekroonde Poelenburg ("The Crowned Poelenburg"):


Lunch time at the Restaurant De Hoop Op d'Swarte Walvis. One of the few disappointments of being in the Netherlands was the prevalence of Heineken Beer, aka 歐洲的台灣啤酒. This restaurant, however, had local brews on offer, of which I partook (I'm also holding the block of Baby Goat I picked up at the cheesemaker's:


Lunch consisted of local favorites, starting off with Zaanse mustard soup, digging into Beemster beef steak for the main course and culminating with a slice of apple pie for dessert (not pictured as my daughter quickly tucked into it):



After lunch, it was back to taking in the scenery:


One of the most interesting windmills was the one that produces paint pigments for sale, the same materials the Dutch masters used in producing their Golden Age masterpieces:





Amber enjoys some hot chocolate on a chilly but sunny afternoon:


The Zaanse Schans Windmills:



All good day trips must come to an end, so we returned by train to Amsterdam Centraal:


My daughter is fascinated by a self-serve food dispenser:


Amber and I took Shu-E to see the evening lights in the Dam, in the heart of the medieval center where the city was founded way back in 1270:


The National Monument, an obelisk erected in 1956 to commemorate the dead of World War II:


The square is dominated by the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) and Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) and...:


...and Madame Tussauds Amsterdam!:


As the sun went down it was time to have dinner:




A night stroll on the streets near the Dam:



A shop selling smoking supplies. The presence of cannabis was very noticeable at times on the streets of Amsterdam during our stay, suggesting I was at a rock concert rather than in one of the world's most famous cities. Considering my present station in life, I wasn't going to visit any of Amsterdam's famed coffeehouses. Shu-E wanted very much to take a walk through the Red Light district; with a ten year-old in tow, however, the best we could do was skirt the edges and then retire to our hotel. Being parents can really bite at times:


Dutch treat:








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