(From our trip in November 2019)
Ahhhh Jet Lag you old Mother Chuffer. Awake since 3am – ugh!!! Not loving that.
But my friends there is not time to complain – I threw down a bowl of bitchy for breakfast with a sprinkling of yay we are off to explore and we are out the door.
Today we are off adventuring outside of Amsterdam to visit the cutest place called Zaanse Schans. I’ve been drooling over this place on travel blogs for years and I’m so thrilled to finally go there. It’s a little dutch township about 20 mins away on the train with quaint houses and windmills and pretty much how I imagine an old town in the Netherlands to look.
Normally this is something I would book us on a tour for. I’m so guilty of wanting other people to help me travel places and tell me about what I’m seeing. And honestly I have zero regrets for many of our amazing tours in the past. However, on this trip we were more determined to try and get ourselves around to enrich our experience. Europe’s train system is so goddamn easy to use and navigate, not to mention a high joy to cost ratio so it was literally a no brainer to try. Not gonna lie, I read alot about how to get us there, how to walk from the train station to the township, when to go to avoid tour buses etc so I felt I had it covered.
Amsterdam Central Train station is only a 10 minute walk from our gorgeous hotel and I had to giggle when we arrived there because look at the extreme parking situation – not cars but bikes. Only in Amsterdam hey…..
Train tickets were easy to purchase from the machines and it was only $15.60 euro for the both of us. There were plenty of maps around to show you how to find the right platform. We found our platform easily and I loved having a few minutes before the train arrived to admire the structure and how clean it all was. (Wait, did I just give you some actual real travel information? Surely not. I’m going to need to lie down and give myself a talking to)
Train only took about 15-20mins to get there and soon we were walking through a little village called Zaandijk with the sweetest little homes, omg dreamy and then we headed towards Zaanse Schaans. It was only a 15 minute walk with lots to see.
First you had to cross this big bridge which gave you the most amazing views of Windmills and picture perfect houses. We literally stood on this bridge for such a long time so I could take 254million photos. You can imagine how joyful that was for husband after the first 3 photos were taken hahaha. But I wasn’t going to be rushed. This view is breathtaking.
Then it was time to wander into what essentially was the sweetest, quaintest, prettiest, allthe-ests little Dutch township. It was all so green and lush – that’s what struck me the most. The grass was so thick and divine I wanted to roll around in it (no, not with husband – he would get the wrong idea). I was literally oohing and ahhing out loud as we wandered around.
We then headed towards the windmills. Up close they are incredible – the details were a photographers dream. These are all free to walk around and admire.
The most famous and impressive of them all is called De Kat which is the only remaining working windmill in the world apparently. It makes paint I think??? You can pay something like 4 euro to enter and climb up to the top but we were happy just loving on it from the outside. Honestly the scenery here was breakthtakingly gorgeous.
Around about now the Tour Buses started rolling in. Yeah yeah I know I love me a tour but when I’m not on them I want to cut their ballflaps out because well…….annoying AF!
On our way to the clog factory we saw some adorable little animal farm with chickens and these adorable goats
I find Clogs quite a confusing proposition. I mean, they look so uncomfortable and I often wonder how you keep them on. They don’t have the back strap of that more upperclass modern version called Le Crocs. The Dutch obviously know something I don’t because they date back to the 1500s and are still being worn today.
At the Clog Factory they offer a free demonstration on how the clogs are made and I have to say I was fairly fascinated with it all. The guy whipped one up in no time on machinery (I imagine they took alot longer in the old days when made by hand of course).
So they essentially started off as cheap protective footwear for farmers, factory workers, fishermen etc. Nails and sharp objects couldn’t penetrate the wood and so they became very popular for workers. Apparently they are warm in winter and cool in summer and absorb sweat away from the feet so given some traditional farmers are still wearing them all these years later I guess they know something I don’t. And some people have fancy ones for church and weddings. It’s called Fash-un, look it up! Are they outside of their minds with these wooden foot bowls of crazy
Thousands of clogs are still made each year as protective footwear – wtf
I have to say Zaanse Schans was such a special place. It really felt like Holland/The Netherlands or whatever the hell it’s called. Such an incredible morning.
We caught the train home and prepared for our afternoon tour (yes I said tour, yes I know I just bagged tours a few paragraphs back, and yes, I want you to shut up lol)
The tour company had suggested meeting at a place called Cafe Wester and they recommended eating there if you had time. We decided to have a late lunch there before the tour. The place was rustic but they may have taken “original features” a little too far. It was rundown and could’ve used a bit of love…..but I’m a little rundown myself so I decided to embrace it. The beer was nice and cold which I love and I eventually could see moments of charm in amongst the grunge.
We of course should have stopped there but no we thought we would order some food. Big mistake! Big! Huge! as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman would say. Just feast your eyes on the stairs behind Husband in this photo…..what you can’t see is the little gnats or fruit flies or whatever the fk they were buzzing around. But no we stilled ordered.food.here!!! Mr. Kellysontour got an assortment of fried crap and I got the worst burger in the world. It tasted as bad as it looked.
But the beer was cold ok hahaha
Them Dam Boat Guys – Canal cruise
I was incredibly excited for this canal tour with Them Dam Boat Guys . Their website was super funny and engaging (marketing gold) and this tour had the most AHHHHH-MAZINGGGG reviews. Everyone raved about how fun it was, how awesome the guide was, just win win win so even though we had already done a walking tour I thought this canal cruise would be a wonderful compliment to that.
The first thing I loved about the tour was you were allowed to BYO booze. I mean, cmon who doesn’t love that. We just bought a conservative 6 pack of cans to share because we are Classy As! Our guide was a nice Italian man but I felt he lacked the personality of some of the other guides I had read reviews about. We were joined on the cruise by 2 young American couples who were super lovely.
It was such a different perspective seeing Amsterdam from the water. I can imagine with the right tour guide this would be incredible and in hindsight a night tour would’ve been sooooo much better. I will put this on the list of to dos if we ever are lucky enough to go back.
The tour was fun and I enjoyed chatting to the other couples but it became confusing because there wasn’t actually much “info” given by the guide about what we were floating past. We didn’t hear much about Amsterdam and it’s history so compared to the amazing walking tour yesterday this fell way short.
The other thing I had read on the website but had obviously misunderstood because I’m an idiot – it said you could smoke on the boat. I had warned Husband that it was possible someone might whip out a ciggie on the boat and I was already planning on bumming a durry to enjoy with my beer (yes losers, I occasionally “aka once every 5 years” drink too much and smoke a Winnie Blue that I’ve borrowed off some complete stranger in a bar). Spoiler alert – they didn’t mean cancer sticks – they meant marijuana/maryjane/dope/weed/pot/ganja – Whoopsie.
So imagine our surprise when this awkward nerdy guy asked if he could smoke and out came the “weed pipe”. Not gonna lie, it became awkward. I don’t know why…..everyone just kind of went silent while he was smoking and it killed the vibe a bit.
During the cruise we asked one couple where they are from and they said Milwaukee. I mean…..what were husband and I to do but to break into song my friends:-
The girl from Milwaukee said – wait for it – she had never heard of Happy Days, wtf. What in the Richie Cunningham is going on with this girl? I smile politely whilst imagining myself leaning forward to give her a bitch slap for just being stoopid. Ummm so she doesn’t now who the Fonz is? Has she never found her thrill on Blueberry Hill. Hasn’t she ever wanted to date Chachi? Hasn’t she ever wanted to be besties with Pinkie and Leather Tuscadero? Her life is empty of joy my friends!
As I launched into “What, what did you just say”…..I think Mr. Kellysontour may have reached over and squeezed my leg tightly as a sign not to hurt the little idiot but I gave him my “in the wild the weak need to become prey” face and he backed up. Am I right? Sometimes you have to sit back, drink your lukewarm beer whilst you float down a canal in Amsterdam and accept that people are fucking idiots. Anyway, so the cruise was just ok for me. People were nice but If I wanted a Booze Cruise in it’s true sense I would’ve gone with someone else that didn’t charge as much tbh.
After the tour we headed for Pre Drinks at a local bar a block from our hotel that we had been admiring called Louis. This bar was super cool and I can imagine if I was a local who lived nearby I would go here all of the time.
I was loving the old ciggie machine – what a relic.
I also appreciated that the bar was named after the resident cat Louis who decided I was quite good for a snuggle and he sidled up beside me for a nap. All the bars in Amsterdam seem to have cats, must be all those yukky mice scurrying around I guess.
We grabbed a quick dinner at the Irish pub from a few days ago because we were tired and wanted familiar. Alas food was pretty average but was super cheap so meh. Today was not a gourmet food day my loves – not even close.
Then it was time for a lazy wander around the Red Light District which was very interesting. We were there fairly early so it wasn’t peak creepy dudes time yet but I was a little surprised at the lack of debauchery that I had imagined.
The Red Light District
The Red Light District name obviously comes from the red lights coming from the windows that the sex workers stand in. Everything is quite regulated and I felt it was fairly safe for a wander around. I imagine later in the evening things may get a little busier and seedy.
You aren’t allowed to take photos of the ladies – apparently there are bodyguards around who get quite angry so I respected that. But….to give you guys an idea I found these images on the intergramwebs
Husband was never really sure where to look. It was actually kind of funny how uncomfy he was with it all. Not me though……I looked em dead in the eye with respect! (with the occasional glance at their bewbs and foofa’s because well, of course and to see if anyone dancing around popped a flap). I’m not bisexual, I’m more of a Hemsworth-sexual but man I can totes appreciate a nice set of racks and a well groomed hoo-ha. It was a mixed bag of ladies. Lots of pretty incredible looking womenh but alas they weren’t all nice and they weren’t all well groomed but that’s a story for my next therapy session. I do support how organised this industry is in Amsterdam and that the women’s safety is paramount.
Saw a woman in a window who was legit over 70 – and that concludes another episode of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. Shudder.
Of course the Coffee Shops were plentiful in the area. Although marijuana is not technically legal in Amsterdam, selling small quantities in Coffee Shops without advertising or disturbing the peace is tolerated. The big ticket item appears to be “brownies”. Our daughter was very keen for us to try a brownie while we were in Amsterdam but anyone who’s known us longer than a day, knows we are fairly straight laced – not too much bending of laces going on here. Yes I know you all think I’m a slapper boozehound – and you’d be right – but I don’t tend to break too many rules so we decided to leave the marijuana for the young and fun crowd. Although with the open windows in all of the places billowing out significant amounts of smoke onto the footpaths I felt like i probably partook in a little of the good stuff without knowing it. Yes we are boring nerds…..!
As we slowly wandered home we called into a awesome looking cocktail bar around the corner from our hotel. It is rated in the top 50 bars in the world and since our daughter is in this industry we thought she would think we were so cool when we told her haha. We don’t even drink cocktails but for tonight we can pretend.
After all of this racey wild excitement…..it was back to the hotel and literally asleep by 8pm……no I’m not even joking. Jet lag you mole patrol.
Hope you enjoyed our adventures today. Let me know your favourite bits by commenting. Love to hear you are following along.
Highs – Zaanse Schans 100%
Lows – Canal cruise, stupid Milwaukee girl
Weather – High – 8, Low – 1