Community Highlights Europe Noord-Holland

30/03/24 - on the move again

I know it hasn't been that long since I came back from the most amazing trip ever and now with the Easter weekend happening I decided to go on another trip with my parents.

Normally we spend Easter with the entire family and especially with the nieces who love to hunt for the chocolate Easter eggs and other goodies they like but this year my sister-in-law decided to go home and so it came about that my brother and his family went to China and Shanghai and surroundings more in particular and for me this was the best opportunity ever to go on a little break myself.


This meant of course that my parents where literally home alone and we all know how those things could end, so I decided to ask them as well and before we knew it, we were packing our stuff in the morning and after breakfast we were on our way towards the Netherlands.

I expected it to be very busy on the road with us Belgians having a 14day easter holiday, but nothing was further from the truth. Of course there will always be traffic when on the highway but before we knew it, we arrived in Zaandam little more than 2 hours later. I've always wanted to visit Zaanse Schans with its mills for quite some years now, but never found the opportunity. I guess now is as good as ever! Sadly enough we didn't arrive at the scene in the best of weather with raindrops falling from the sky, but we made the best of it.

As it is the beginning of the tourist season and this place is as touristy as it gets, we definitely were not alone and besides hearing alot of English and Spanish with a bit of Italian and seeing loads of Indian people I realised the entire world was discovering the beauty of our Dutch neighbours and more in particular their countryside. Although it was raining, it really is worthwhile the stopover, even if it is for just a few hours. The views on the watery fields are stunning when the weather is nice or so I think because although we weren't that lucky, I still enjoyed the views on the few mills that are left.

You can really feel history when walking through the area and the people living at the scene are really friendly. I don't know if I would be when hundreds of strangers are walking in my backyard! We stayed for a few hours but because of the bus loads of people and the rain my mother found it time enough to move on and to be honest, I couldn't blame her. I was also ready for our final destination of the day and as soon as we left the parking lot, we were on the road again with destination Volendam.


I arranged us 2 rooms in the Marina park which is some kind of fancy bungalow park but it has a small hotel as well. A few years back on one of the meetups hosted by Keiko when travelbuddies was still alive and kicking, I stayed at this place and liked it so much, I knew this was going to be the right place for our stay for a couple of days. It is ideally located just a few minutes walking distance from the old town and as soon as we were checked in and got our rooms, we were ready for our walk.

This time we were lucky the weather changed a bit and although still a bit windy, we were happy the dark clouds turned into some lighter ones.
As it already was after 5pm when we arrived in Volendam, we went on the lookout for some dinner which wasn't that hard to find of course and a few hours later we walked back towards our hotel with the sun that suddenly had appeared slowly beginning to hide again for the darkness that is called evening. It has been quite an interesting day and after checking out our room a bit more thoroughly, we had one last nightcap before I called it a day.

31/03/24 - A short visit to a peninsula

Today it is Easter and we got a big surprise once we arrived at the breakfast area coz we all got some chocolate Easter eggs. That's a good enough reason to start the day! Breakfast was being served at the table, some kind of remnant of the covid period and since it worked, they kept it. I guess in a way it isn't all too bad since not too much is being spilled.


Since the weather was still not all that good, I just took my umbrella to be on the save side and we walked slowly towards the centre of town to catch the ferry to Marken. I guess because of the weather as well as it being a public holiday not that much people were up and about so when we arrived at the harbor we needed to wait a little bit longer, but thank the Lord we weren't the only ones otherwise maybe we had to wait till the next one! With only 14 people on board we headed for the peninsula of Marken which is nowadays a protestant community.

In the old days it was very furtile ground because of the floods on the island so monks where apparently the first inhabitants to work the grounds and later came the people who worked on the land as well and of course there were the fishermen as well. Volendam thrived in the early 1900's, but Marken remained a poor community till strangers arrived. First it were artist like painters and such who saw the beauty of the peninsula, later others arrived as well. Nowadays the inhabitants rely on tourism and although it is but a small island, there is besides just the old historical houses also a bike tour around the island to go all the way towards the Lighthouse and back. Unfortunately, we couldn't rent one one the peninsula so we just walked through most of it. Later in the morning the sun appeared and once we arrived at the little harbor of Marken, we had lunch on a terrace for the first time this year. Yep, life can be good some times.

Early in the afternoon we took the ferry back to Volendam where loads of people were out and about. It seems in this part of the country they celebrate Easter with loads of alcohol and with it all the things that come with it. From time to time we saw lots of drinken people on the street making so much noise we decided to hit the old parts of the town for a bit peace and quiet. It seemed we were not the only ones and away from the harbor, we saw some beautiful little houses and cute wooden bridges. All in all its is nice to see but no way I would like to live here coz there is just no privacy. They all live on top or next to each other in their backyard if you can call it that.


It seems the weather here in Volendam always changes on us and sadly enough, it started to rain again. From time to time we had to take shelter and later in the evening we tried to find a restaurant for some dinner but it seemed like everything was fully booked because of Easter. What a bummer and like most other tourists clueless about the fact that there were too many people and too little restaurants, we just hit the local chip shop for fish and chips. It is not exactly the feast we had in mind, but it is food so went with it.

As it was getting darker and started to rain heavily, we returned to our hotel where we arrived with thunder and lightning about minutes after so this was a good enough cue not to go out again, so we had a hot drink in our room and I spend some time blogging and catching up mails hoping that tomorrow the weather will finally change for the better.

01/04/24 - quick getaway towards the capital!

After a good nights rest and yet another yummy breakfast the three of us were more than ready for a day of sightseeing. Both my parents really wanted to go to Amsterdam because they only visited it once in their life and this was about 20 years ago, so they couldn't remember much of it.
Since I never mind traveling towards the capital I was more than glad to see something different. As I wasn't too keen to park my car in the centre of the city, we just used public transport to get there. Since it was a public holiday, we needed to use more than means of transportation but I didn't mind, as long as we could visit the ciry, I went with it and my folks where more than ready to follow behind me.


Using the local bus and a metro for the last 10 minutes, we arrived at the central train station at 10 am and started our way towards the red light district and the entertainment district which really needed a good clean and the one thing on my mind was the fact that the certainly celebrate Easter a little bit different than we do at home. Here it seems that alcohol is the main player instead of us Belgians who may the emphasis on chocolate eggs! Whatever one prefers I suppose!


Crossing the Waag, we walked all the way to the major square called de Dam and from there it was a stroll into the main shopping street with a side track to the beguinage, where it was actually quite but to be honest, I rather liked that little fact. Maybe I should move here, but I soon learned that the property is extremely expensive, do I guess I rather stay in Belgium then.

After a quick lunch, we also visited the flower market, Leidse plein, Vondelpark, Rijksmuseum and so much more and although we did enough breaks with drinks and all, I could see that after a long day of walking my parents got tired so after an early dinner we decided to go back towards Volendam. We took the metro back to the North station and after a bit of waiting, the local bus took us straight back to our hotel where we arrived a little after 6pm. From there we had one last walk to the centre of the town for an ice cream, coz who can end a nice day without a proper dessert and a few drinks as well, after all it was our last evening here in the North of Holland. I guess with all the bad weather we had a couple of days ago, we were rewarded with a stunning sunset this evening, I guess the perfect ending of a nice day!

02/04/24 - the trip back home!


Unlike the previous mornings where we enjoyed an excellent breakfast it seemed that today the staff wasn't really in the mood to serve breakfast. Since we slept in and packed our stuff for the leave today, we arrived a little bit later than normal and once we were seated we noticed ample food. It seemed that most of the food was gone and they weren't really in a hurry to provide more. I spoke with the girl about it and she shrugged her body and said it was the only food left over, she could not help us. So we just had each one slice of bread with some jam and a bit of yogurt on the side. Complaining at the reception didn't help either since it were mere youngsters at the desk who thought we were living on another planet, but don't you worry, they will hear from me again!

As we put all our stuff in the back of my car, I wanted to visit a tulip field in Katwoude, but once we arrived at the scene it was no were to be found. Strange indeed! It seems it moved to Keukenhof! What to do next??? There was a possibility to drive to Edam to the cheese market, but we had to reserve a parking space and it was too late. To top things of, it started to rain even harder at the stopover and I saw in my dads eyes he wasn't up for it, so we just drove back home.

Once we were on the highway it was smooth driving so to speak but we encountered more rain, even hail and a bit of sunshine as well. As soon as we crossed the Belgium border it started to rain again. It seemed the weather wasn't going to clear up anytime soon, so we had a little break for lunch and arrived home at 2 pm.

It wasn't the day I had imagined, but once back home I was glad of the things we did manage to see and since it isn't that far away, we can always go back to see the cheese market and many more interesting cities!

This featured blog entry was written by Ils1976 from the blog The Netherlands.
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By Ils1976

Posted Sun, Apr 07, 2024 | Netherlands | Comments