Thursday, May 16, 2013

Zaanse Schans (or Sconce)

After getting some decent sleep, I woke up the next morning with some awful allergies. Like, constantly feeling like you need to sneeze and blowing your nose nonstop allergies. What the heck?! I didn't want it to slow me down, though, so I jammed some tissues in my pocket and we went out for breakfast. Mark had read about this really good pancake place, The Pancake Bakery, so we went there to see what it was all about. Turns out a pancake in the Netherlands is not the same as a pancake in the US...when our pancakes came out, they were on 12+ inch plates and were so big that they were hanging over the edges! I'm blaming my allergies on me not thinking to take a picture until I had already eaten most of it.

After breakfast we made a quick stop back at the hotel, then hopped on the metro back to the parking lot to get our car. Since the weather was supposed to be good, we wanted to go to Zaanse Schans! Mark and I had heard about it on one of the House Hunters International shows a few years ago, and it turned into a bit of a joke because I started calling it Zaanse Sconce since we had just moved into our house and all I wanted to do was replace the ugly light sconces we had in our living room at the time. At any rate, it's a bunch of historic windmills that in most cases, still work. We grabbed our car and were off!

We started in the museum. There was a lot of neat history about the area, and bonus - some of the signs were in English! Mark and I had fun dressing like pretty Dutch ladies. They also had a section that was a mock chocolate factory with pictures and displays and machinery making (fake) chocolate and biscuits. After wandering through the whole thing, we made our way outside.


There are a few windmills along a path, and almost all of them were actually turning. A couple of them are oilmills, a couple are sawmills, and I think there is one mustardmill.

This goat was very friendly and was walking along the fence; everyone was petting it (including me).

We walked around the whole path, then started making our way back to the front.

For only 3 Euro, you could go in the ones that were working! This one was making peanut oil and you could even buy some of the oil right there. It was loud and things were turning and clunking, but maybe the best part was... could go up a ridiculously steep set of steps and go out onto the windmill platform!

They have a little gate to keep people from getting too close to the blades, and good thing...they were whipping around FAST.

I tried to get a jumping picture on the platform but it turned out looking like I was getting sucked into the sky by aliens. I'll just have to be happy with this one instead.   :)

We eventually came down out of the windmill and kept winding our way back around to the front. There were a few little shops and some other smaller buildings on the way back to the entrance.

We made our way to the gift shop through a small clog museum. They had any kind of clog you could imagine...some were carved with intricate designs, others were painted. These were turned into violins!

After a few minutes, a guy came out and started actually making clogs. I watched for a couple minutes, then we grabbed some souvenirs (no, no clogs) and made our way back to the car.

Mark had looked around online to see where we could find some fields of tulips and found a place a little ways away that supposedly had a tulip festival. We were making good time until all of the people around us suddenly jammed on their breaks. Traffic jam!

It got so bad that a couple people got out of their cars and were walking around. Turns out there was an accident just a little past that overpass. Since we were just past the exit, we were stuck; we spent at least 20 minutes watching cars behind us get off the highway, drive over the overpass, then hop back on the road just past the accident. Traffic eventually started moving again, and we were on our way.

We were driving past a lot of open farmland, but after a while we did start to see fields of flowers along the road.

We pulled over a few times to get a better look. We were following signs for a tulip tour route at one point, but we weren't having much luck!

Most of these were getting close, but only a couple had actually bloomed.

This is most of what we saw as we were driving around. We were starting to think we'd missed them all when...

...we found some!

It was crazy to see so many flowers in one place. There were rows and rows of them, all the same color. I told Mark we should do this to our front yard.

We eventually made our way to a little town called Urk and took a few minutes to walk around. They had a neat path along the water, and those white things in the distance are all huge windmills.

Mark wanted to touch the water. It actually wasn't too cold.

We followed a path past the lighthouse...

...and around to a small harbor. We sat down at an outdoor restaurant to try to grab some dinner, but they were so slammed that after about 10 minutes we still hadn't seen a waitress, so we grabbed our stuff, made our way back to the car, and got back on the road to Amsterdam.

So many windmills...they're all lined up along the water, but since the ground is so flat and low the windmills are sitting up on dikes to prevent flooding, so you couldn't actually see the water.

We got back to Amsterdam, parked in the city, and made our way back to the hotel via the Red Light District. Oops! There were so many buildings with girls sitting in lingerie right there in the windows...and I had to laugh, because so many of them looked bored and were tapping away on their cell phones. It was pretty funny to walk through the area, especially because we didn't really mean to.

We made a quick stop in our hotel room, then managed to find a restaurant that was still open and grabbed a late dinner (since it was almost 10pm at this point). The food was great, and we made our way back to the hotel only to find out that the power was out. Mark went down to reception to tell them about it, and apparently we weren't the only ones with the problem - it sounded like about half the hotel was out. They couldn't fix it until the next day, so we used our phones as flashlights, brushed our teeth, and passed out. 

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