Amsterdam ~ Canals, Van Gogh, Cheese and Windmills of Zaandam

August 8th ~ Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Zaandam

Zaandam under threatening skies

Did you know that Amsterdam is a conurbation? Well, I learned one more term today. In case you too need a little help with that one, it means that she is:

“…a region comprising a number of cities, large towns, and other urban areas that, through population growth and physical expansion, have merged to form one continuous urban and industrially developed area.” ~ Wikipedia

I guess that makes Amsterdam similar to Los Angeles in that regard. With almost 2.5 million people in the greater metropolitan area, she is the capital of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but not the seat of the government which is in The Hague.

Just a year ago we spent several days here in Amsterdam as the kick off point for a Gate 1 Tour that took us through Belgium and terminated in Paris. In case you are curious to read more about Amsterdam, including our visit to the Rijksmuseum, The Anne Frank house, or other escapades, you can click here for a list of previous posts from The Netherlands.

But back to THIS trip in the “Venice of the North”.

On the canal cruise through Amsterdam

On the canal cruise through Amsterdam, I think in the Jordaan area

It seems to be obligatory for any tour to include a cruise through the canals of the city and of course this was no exception. There are three main canals here dug in the 17th century, that form concentric circles around the city, known as the Grachtengordel. This area is comprised of 90 islands, 1500 bridges and over 100 km (62 miles) of canals.

We are not at a loss of things to look at, as there are in the neighborhood of 1550 monumental buildings alongside the main canals. In 2010 the area was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

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We had a choice between touring through the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum. We had visited both last year, but being a huge Van Gogh fan, and they had a new exhibit relating to his mental illness, I voted accordingly, although I think that perhaps there is a lot more to see in the Rijks. Also FYI, photography is allowed inside the Rijksmuseum but not inside the Van Gogh.

Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum

The two museums are situated almost side by side, so we ended up walking through a passageway at the Rijksmuseum before continuing on to the Van Gogh Museum. My pictures below were taken of posters inside the gift shop and/or corridor.

Situated within a stones throw of each other

Situated within a stones throw of each other

Van Gogh self portrait

Van Gogh self-portrait

Between the two is a large park that houses the famous I Amsterdam sign. Tourists from all over the world jockey to get their pictures taken beside or on top of this monumental piece of art.

I Amsterdam sign in front of the Rijksmuseum

I Amsterdam sign in front of the Rijksmuseum

Climbing on the sign to get the perfect family shot or selfie

Climbing on the sign to get the perfect family shot or selfie

Tim managed the maneuver while I stayed firmly planted on the ground

Tim managed the maneuver while I stayed firmly planted on the ground

Hey, someone had to take the picture, RIGHT?

Children were both entertained and entertaining while chasing enormous bubbles. One could not help but smile at their ongoing efforts.

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After our museum tours concluded, our groups recombined and we climbed on our awaiting busses and headed out-of-town.

Can not escape Pokemon Go...

Can not escape Pokemon Go…

Now this makes me think that we are in Holland 🙂

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First windmill of the day

Next stop was at a shop where we were shown a small-scale cheese production. I don’t know that I gained any new tidbits of wisdom about how cheese is made, but I did enjoy the samples.

Learning about how cheese is made

Learning how cheese is made

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This farm was different in others we had visited, as we were also allowed to visit the barnyard and interact with the cows.

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Continuing through the countryside, we learned more about the dams of the Netherlands. Most of my generation are familiar with the Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates story which includes the tale of a heroic Dutch boy who saves his country by putting his finger in a leaking dike. So of course we had a photo stop at a modern-day earth dike which shows how the water level is well above the level of the countryside and the roads we were driving on.

Earthen dike covered with grass with the water level higher than the road

Earthen dike covered with grass with the water level higher than the road

The countryside was lovely as we proceeded further out-of-town. Many fields were home to grazing cattle and sheep.

Lush, green and flat countryside

Lush, green and flat countryside – through the bus front window

Cattle or sheep cover many of the fields

Cattle or sheep cover many of the fields

Finally our bus arrives at our highlighted tour destination, Zaanse Schans in Zaandam. This neighborhood was created between 1961 and 1974 when well-preserved buildings, houses and windmills from all over the region were transported to this one spot.

Now a major tourist attraction, it is divided into sections which include the windmills, a small neighborhood of traditional homes, agricultural zones, as well as several museums, most notable being the Zaans Museum.

The windmill area was a big draw and we headed that direction first. We went inside one called The Cat where a gentleman told stories of its history. De Kat is the only remaining working windmill in the world which grinds raw pigments like chalk for paint colors.

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We also climbed up a rather steep set of stairs to the roof where we could take in a lovely panoramic view of the other windmills.

The town section was like visiting a storybook land. Cozy cottages, some with elaborate facades, tailored yards, floral beds, decorative bridges, and adjoining pastures with sheep contentedly grazing along a slow-moving creek.

What an idyllic setting to create a fairy tale

What an idyllic setting to create a fairy tale

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But sadly, our excursion as well as our cruise was coming to an end. After another fabulous dinner, complete with a luscious dessert, it was time to pack up our baggage and our memories.

Yep, it was THAT good!

Yep, it was THAT good!

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for the care and exceptional quality that constitutes a Uniworld Cruise. We have been well fed (now that is an understatement), pampered, and educated. We have walked, relaxed, explored and enjoyed fellowship with friends. Many photos were taken, sites visited, wine enjoyed, and plans discussed for where and when we can take another river cruise.

A most sincere thank you for all who have taken the time to cruise the Rhine and Moselle rivers right along with us. Your comments and feedback are much appreciated!

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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54 Responses to Amsterdam ~ Canals, Van Gogh, Cheese and Windmills of Zaandam

  1. John Love says:

    I have not said much about your travels lately, but I have, as always, been enjoying them immensely! I did not know, for example, that there was only one remaining working windmill in the world! The modern world cannot wait on the whims of the wind to grind their product I presume? This last trip on the Rhine and Moselle rivers was one of my favorites! As always, thank you for taking me places in the world I have not been, and doing it so well!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi John, lovely to hear from you and glad to know we have not lost you along the way 😃 This was such a relaxing journey, and we soaked up the attentive service. I do want to clarify something I wrote as I fear it may be giving the wrong impression. The windmill is the last remaining one doing that particular job (grinding raw pigments like chalk for paint colors). I honestly don’t know if or how many others may be still doing some other function. Perhaps a job for some research in the future. We are enjoying our time now in Southern California. The next trip to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands is right around the corner!

      Like

  2. GeorgieMoon says:

    Excellent post! I have only ever been to the Netherlands once, half a day in Amsterdam. It is definitely somewhere I want to return! Your photos were excellent, and a lovely record of your trip.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Mila says:

    Dear Joanne and Tim ,

    Thank you so much for your shared stories and pictures, for “taking me with you” around the World, educating and entertaining !!! What a wonderful idea !!
    My gratitude of a day and days to come I have an internet which connects me with you and through you with the whole world.
    Wish you safe trips and waiting for your next report.

    Best of all,
    Mila

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello Mila! What a nice boost you gave me today. Tim and I are so fortunate to be able to travel the world and are thrilled that other people are enjoying following along with us. I have a couple of posts coming soon to share what we have been up to here in Southern California. But of course, I’m already looking forward to our next big adventure when we head to South America in late October. Thank you for your kindness and good wishes ❤️

      Like

  4. Terry says:

    Always so sad when such a memorable trip comes to an end. Thanks for bringing us along.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. http://wp.me/p7qWVF-AK I recently made a post about Amsterdam too, because I was there ON THE SAME DAY YOU WERE!!!!!! Also check out my other post about Lieden, another small town just outside Amsterdam!!! Thank you for sharing, with all my memories flooding back I can’t help but be nostalgic because of your wonderful post!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Beth says:

    Excellent descriptions all along! I should know. Enjoyed reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Amsterdam ~ Canals, Van Gogh, Cheese and Windmills of Zaandam – Wag 'n Bietjie

  8. Ann Coleman says:

    Fabulous photos! And someday, I am going to Amsterdam!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Mary Ann says:

    Thank you for sharing your adventure! I like Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, a time when a movie was meant for all ages 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. James McEwan says:

    Get pictures, reflecting your enjoyment of the journey.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Anna Cottage says:

    Wonderful photographs and so informative, thoroughly enjoyed reading it all. Look forward to more and happy travelling. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. tigre23 says:

    What a great post and photos! Thanks for sharing and for the like on my blog! Safe travels and enjoy the adventure! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. michnavs says:

    You make me wanna take a cruise too…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Enjoyed this very much. I am a great fan of van Gogh, but have never been to Amsterdam. Thankfully, his “Starry Night” was at the Museum of Modern Art while I still lived in NYC. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. munchkinontheroad says:

    Reblogged this on On the Road Cooking and commented:
    Another wonderfully travel blog…

    Liked by 2 people

  16. reocochran says:

    Amsterdam looks wonderful! I think your blog photos are beautiful, fun and have meaning, too. Smiles Robin

    Liked by 2 people

  17. joylennick says:

    Hello Tim and Joanne,
    Thank you for liking my post! I must blog more…
    Very pleased to ‘meet’ you and share in your travels in Holland. Envious of the super photos too…I am at the ‘yawning’ side of life…so husband and I don’t travel as much as we used to, but we did in the past and loved every journey and destination. I visited Amsterdam many years ago with a few friends and delighted in all I saw. How wonderful to be visiting the Galapagos Islands shortly. Enjoy!
    Where do you call ‘home’? We are from the UK. now retired to the Costa Blanca region of Spain.
    Take care on your travels. Best wishes Joy Lennick

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello Joy and welcome! Yes, we are really looking forward to our trip to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. We are anticipating taking a LOT of pictures, especially of the animals. Our home base when we are not traveling is our tiny mountain cabin in Southern California.

      Like

  18. jcalberta says:

    Wonderful pics. Beautifully done.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. These are fabulous! Thank you for swinging by the “Ranch,” we 💗 visitors!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. mpardi2013 says:

    Thank you for the wonderful opportunities to relive some very happy times. I’ve always loved Amsterdam, and it has special meaning for me. Marco

    Marco M. Pardi

    Like

  21. ktkickass says:

    I love travelling sooooo much. I have been to Amsterdam, it is beautiful!!! Thanks for the memories…. I need to go back!!! 🙂

    Like

  22. Looks like you had a fine visit. I visited Amsterdam and Iceland last year and have some posts about them, so please come back to visit. I appreciate your stopping by and liking some of my posts.

    Like

  23. I was just in Amsterdam, so I enjoyed reading your version of visiting there.

    Like

  24. Absolutely beautiful post – LOVE AMSTERDAM so much and I long to go back someday!!

    Like

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