This was by far my favorite place I went during my trip abroad. The people were friendly and helpful, and the food was amazing. Take a look at my two day guide to Amsterdam to see where I went and take notes if you're visiting the Netherlands anytime soon.
We decided to stay in Zandaam, which is two subway stops away from downtown Amsterdam. It was much cheaper to stay in Zandaam, and it was a cute area on its own, which was nice to wind down to at night after the craziness of Amsterdam's city life. We checked into our hotel, Inntel Hotels, which was quirky, reasonably priced if you are sharing a room with someone, and was clean and tidy.
Once we checked into our hotel and dropped off our luggage, we took the subway for two stops and went to the Windmill Village in Zaanse Schans. The moment we got off the subway, I could smell cocoa in the air. We walked closer to the Windmill Village and on our way, we passed a chocolate factory, and a cocoa store, Smells Like Chocolate, which had everything from cocoa lemonade to cocoa lotion. After buying some chocolate and sampling the divine chocolate lotion, we walked to the village.
Above & Below: Smells Like Chocolate, cocoa shop
Starting at Zeilenmakerspad 5, 1509 BZ Zaandam, Netherlands, every windmill had a museum inside that told you about something that was made in the windmills. I highly recommend taking an entire day here so you can go into each museum and get ALL the free samples. Plus, you get to go inside the windmills that used to be or still are functioning!
Above: Mustard Museum
We had time to visit the Mustard Museum, the Cheese Museum, the Bakery Museum, and the Clog Museum.
Above: Bakery Museum
The cheese museum was by far my favorite, because of all the free samples of cheese, mustards, sauces, and honey.
Make sure to wait around in the Clog Museum to see the Clog making demonstrations. They make an entire shoe from start to finish right before your eyes!
That night, we walked back to the other side of the Zaans River and ate dinner at Hoop, a brewery near the Windmill village. I ordered the half chicken dish and it was delicious. I'm also not one for beer, but they have a chocolate beer here for anyone who wants to try it. (Apparently it is a fan favorite!)
We took the subway for two stations and got off in the heart of Amsterdam. We bought a two day pass, which was extremely helpful for anyone planning to explore the whole city in a short period of time. In the morning, we went to Blushing for a quick bite before going to the Van Gogh Museum. Their smoothies were exactly what we needed to get a healthy kick start to our day.
Give yourself time at the Van Gogh Museum because they have a great collection! I am not a huge museum lover, and I was still entertained for the hours we were there.
After Van Gogh, we took the Subway to Moeder's (Mother's in English), a restaurant that was opened by a group of mothers who all added their home cooked recipes to the menu. When you dine in, you'll get to eat on a collection of different plates donated by the first customers, and make sure to look around the room and admire all the pictures of moms. Order the traditional meal at the bottom of the menu called "Hotchpotch". This option gives you a traditional Dutch meal. It was my favorite meal of the entire three days we were in Amsterdam. I ate my lunch too fast for a picture, sorry y'all!
After Mom's, we went on a Bike Tour of the city. We signed up for the Yellow Bikes Tour, which took us through all of the iconic spots in the city. I highly recommend seeing the city on a bike, because that is the way the locals get around and you get to see parts of the city that a car cannot access. Below are some places we stopped along our bike tour.
Above: Their version of "parking garage" for all their bikes while they are
Above: Museum Street, where there are numerous museums to check out. Don't forget to take a picture with the I am Amsterdam sign!
After our bike tour, we took the free ferry across the river and visited THIS IS HOLLAND. You can buy a flight simulator ticket for around $18 and you get to spend an hour learning about the history of Holland is a total Disney-style way. If you have ever been on "Soaring Over California" in California Adventures at Disneyland, this is their version of that ride!
We took the ferry back to the main area of Amsterdam, where we took a wine and cheese canal tour of the city. This was a great way to see the city from a slightly different way than earlier in the day when we were on bikes. And who doesn't want to eat cheese and drink unlimited wine while watching the sun set over this beautiful city?!
Despite it being a quick trip, our ability to see the city on bikes, on foot, and by boat made it feel like I got a complete taste of Amsterdam. I highly recommend that you visit Amsterdam and its surrounding cities during your lifetime.
Until next time Holland!
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