Day 8 – Family reunion
Rob’s parents arrived in the Netherlands so we picked them up from their accommodation and headed out for our first explore together. We have planned to spend the next 3 days seeing the sights with them. We were a family group coated up in our Kathmandu coats still needed due to the low Spring temperatures.
Our first outing was to the fortified quaint cosy town of Muiden with a rich history. Due to its position it became the defence waterline to prevent enemies in the East from reaching the riches of Amsterdam. There were a lot of walls, moats, a famous lock and a fort. The lock was originally built in 1674 to protect the town against flooding. It was restored in 1975 with hydraulic systems now used for pleasure boating. It was impressive when the lock snapped open with what looked like three separate lanes. We watched the extravagant yacht glide through the peaceful passage as in time’s past.
We went to see Muidenslot, the Amsterdam Castle. It is a medieval castle. Claimed to be one of the oldest castles built in the Netherlands in 1285. The Count was murdered by his own nobles. Not long after the Bishop of Utrecht destroyed his castle. The Count was making a lot of money as the river was the most important shipping route at the time. He was charging taxes for boats to pass along the waterways. In the 17th century in 1609 it was beautifully rebuilt. It had a stunning moat and draw bridge.
What fascinating things did we learn on our guided tour through this well kept castle.
The family slept together siting up in one bed. They huddled together for warmth. They slept in a sitting up position as they believed if you lay down you would go insane!!!!
For warmth the lounge room was also the bedroom even though they had a massive castle to live in.
They lived on the first floor as the ground floor which housed the torture chambers flooded.
Spices symbolised a sign of their wealth and they were kept in a special cupboard up high in the kitchen.
Children up to 12 years had to stand at the dinner tables as they might grow crooked. The edict was eating with fingers and both adults and children drink beer for breakfast.
The castle has a fabulous garden just coming into blossom with some wonderful flowers on display. We were delighted to spot our first blue bells in full blossom. Beautiful views were to be had from the high dyke above the castle.
The hero for us was chatting to a lady about her owls and falcon. They were stunning birds of prey that were overwhelmingly perfect in every way. The huge owl eyes are a real killer. We could have admired these birds for hours.
We had a family outing to Zaanse Schans famous with tourists for its relocated, restored windmills. Rob had done his research and found a free car park across the bridge from Zaanse Schans. Your alternative is to pay 10 euros to park at Zaanse Schans tourist parking area and then when walking in via the car park you are hassled to have your photo taken which is turned into a calendar for you to purchase on exiting. Researching ahead allows you to unpick the tourist loop holes, allowing us to save our hard earned money and make good choices on what we want to do without any pressure. This approach is not for those who go with the flow but it is our system as money saved is a great thing when travelling for a year.
Just around the corner was a fabulous vegan bakery. We brought a nice freshly baked loaf of spelt bread and we couldn’t resist sampling a mushroom and sweet potato vegan roll. Mmmm!!! Lucky we saved on car parking.
As we headed across the main bridge towards the idyllic windmill village we were lucky enough to watch the bridge open up to the blue skyline above. An enormously long barge boat made its presence through the large opening in the road.
Many of the windmills here are working windmills that focus on producing a specific thing like colourful paint, peanut oil, linseed oil, flour, mustard, paper and one is a saw mill.
These beautiful timber machines have been restored in their old splendour. The windmills have thatched roofs and are painted in the green Zaan- style matching the surrounding houses. Just stunning for the novice like Rob and I who until stepping into the Netherlands had never seen a real windmill before.
Beside seeing the historical windmills we also enjoyed tasting cheese at the Henri Willig Cheese Shop where I brought some baby sheep’s cheese for our morning omelettes. They also had a great selection of goat’s cheese.
Being a lover of vintage Rob and I enjoyed browsing in the first Albert Heijn grocery store museum. This is the supermarket chain that we have been shopping at in Vinkeveen. The shop’s inventory is just as it was in 1887. It was a delightful to see the old products in tins as we have a collection of old tins at home. We also enjoyed looking a vintage advertising posters. Old posters are another passion of ours.
As the afternoon temperatures rose we took a nice stroll through the streets of Zaandijk which are full of traditional Zaan style timber merchant houses. They are painted a dark shiny blissful green with elegant gable roofs and white standout windows. The architecture of these houses combined with the stylish harmonious exterior community painting scheme are a real stand out attraction.
We ended our day at a local brewery where Rob and his dad tasted a few special beers together. They both walked out with a black sample bag of fluid gold.