Our next stop was in Amsterdam and was the end of cruise #20 but the start of #21. Yep, we were staying onboard Brilliance of The Seas for a 12-night cruise that would take us around the Baltic including an overnight in St. Petersburg. But in the meantime, while others were leaving the ship and still others were preparing to come aboard, Those of us who were staying didn’t have a lot of time to visit Amsterdam but we were determined to make the most of it. We had just missed the huge annual tulip festival and although that was disappointing there were still many tulip displays all around. Many of us had opted for an excursion that would take us to Zaanse Schans and to the town of Edam (think cheese).
Zaanse Schans is the Netherlands in a nutshell: a town of traditional Dutch crafts and architecture, with a dozen windmills, a wooden shoe workshop, a cheese farm and more. Some think it’s an open-air museum, but actually, Zaanse Schans is simply a town full of extraordinarily well-preserved architecture and traditions – one that’s capitalized on its authentic atmosphere and added even more typically Dutch phenomena to the mix. Yes, Zaanse Schans is a bit touristic, but that’s no reason to avoid it – its immersive approach to Dutch traditions is both a fun and informative day trip (and excellent for kids!).
We took a tour of the inside of one of the functional windmills that are open to the public. Sawmills, oil mills, and a paint mill allow visitors to see how windmills contributed to the manufacture of each product.
The Wooden Shoe Workshop demonstrates how the iconic Dutch wooden shoes are crafted,
The cheese farm De Catherinahoeve offers both demonstrations and a taste of the finished product – picture-perfect wheels of Dutch cheese. A walk through the village of Edam was fascinating as well.
At the end of the excursion we got back onboard and prepared for a sail-away that promised new adventures.