Towns, Towns, Towns


Knowing that my time in the Netherlands was limited, I took it upon myself to explore not only the city of Amsterdam, but also to visit new cities and towns in the Netherlands I hadn’t gone to. The first of these expeditions was Zaandam, which is about a 20-minute train ride north of Amsterdam. Now, to be fair, this wasn’t our goal, but we saw the town square as we were riding by on the train, so when the train stopped, we knew we had to get out and see it up close. The buildings were very traditional and wooden. In fact, it looked like a street filled with green barns. If this wasn’t Dutch, then I don’t know what was. My friend Melodie and I were there for about 20 minutes. We only stopped by the grocery store for a couple snacks and took some pictures of the small town we were in.

After getting back on the train, we went to our initial destination, a small neighborhood called Zaanse Schans, which is situated in northern Zaandam. Now THIS was as Dutch as you could get. The buildings, the landscape, the windmills, it looked like a postcard. And not just that, but the town of Zaandam is known for producing chocolate, so when you step out of the train station, the ENTIRE neighborhood smells like chocolate. Now, not only was I on a quest to visit more Dutch cities just for the fun of it, but also because I wanted to start a magnet collection. Therefore, we stopped by the nearest souvenir shop and bought some magnets. I must admit I have gone a bit crazy with my magnet collection (as I’m typing this, I can see my refrigerator filled with them). For whatever reason, that day I felt like magnets were not going to be enough, so apart from those I also bought a mini bicycle model with “Amsterdam” written on its side.

After the souvenir shop, we continued walking along the chocolate-scented streets to a suburban neighborhood. The houses looked like they were taken out of a movie. This entire town was very traditional and very European-looking. We realized that to get to the windmills, we would have to cross the bridge, and when we got to the ENORMOUS bridge, we got the most breathtaking view of a river running through the town. This river was massive I could have been fooled into thinking I was at the beach. After walking along the very long bridge, we finally arrived at the heart of Zaanse Schans. Clearly the local population knew that this was a tourist attraction, as every building that looked like a house was actually a store or museum or anything of the sort. Also, side note, I’m pretty sure clogs are a Dutch thing, because there was an entire store dedicated to them, as well as an entire exterior wall of another. Despite how beautiful the town was, Melodie and I began to get a bit tired, so we headed back to the train and over to our next location, because the expedition for the day was not yet over.

The last part of our day trip took us to the city of Haarlem, which is about a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam. To be honest, this part of the trip was not planned, we only decided it as we were getting restless in Zaanse Schans, so we were not sure what to do there. Therefore, we went to a souvenir shop, got our magnets, and went to a nearby restaurant in the city center to enjoy eating a meal in the nice weather. Unfortunately, we did not realize that we had missed the last train to Amsterdam, so we had to take a bus instead. A bit of a bumpier ride, but honestly, I’m happy to be on anything that takes me home. The day was eventful and relaxing. I knew that this would not be my last day trip in the Netherlands. Up until this point, I have visited Leiden, Delft, Utrecht, Zandvoort, and most recently, Maastricht. The only reason I don’t go into further detail about my adventures in these towns is because it’s more or less the same as what you just read – collecting magnets and taking pictures. Can you believe I am taking 3-hour long trains just for that? Neither can I, but this might be my last time in the Netherlands, so I have to do what I have to do.