As you know, a few weeks ago, I went to Holland.
And of course, I didn’t just go to Holland, but I decided to visit Amsterdam!
Visiting Amsterdam is awesome!
And I admit. I was a little nervous taking a teenager to that city famous for it’s redlight districts and all that it entails…!
But it all worked out well in the end, and we had a great time together.
So it was a surprise to myself, that this time around, I booked a place that was more family-friendly, and one of the things that made it easier to even think about bringing a child. To Amsterdam!
A place called Zaandam.
Is that a spin-off of Amsterdam or something?
Are you sure?
WHY GO TO ZAANDAM?
Zaandam is pretty cute!
It’s a city in the northern part of Holland.
It’s located on the Zaan, close to the North Sea Canal.
And it’s a hop and a skip from Amsterdam!
Zaandam has a population of around 72,597 and is extremely famous for a place called Zaanse Schans.
What’s that, when it’s at home?
Well, the Zaanse Schans is a unique part of the Netherlands, filled with wooden houses, mills, barns and workshops. It’s also an inspiration of Monet who painted 25 works of art, one of the most popular Dutch attractions of the Netherlands, and an anchor point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH)!
It was the anchor of the Dutch Golden Age and a region known for its food industry and combined innovational skills. From windmills to steam engines, to entire factories and to the preserved industrial heritage of contemporary Holland. The Zaanse Schans was always an important working class industrial town producing linseed oil, paint, snuff, mustard, and paper. And also a living museum platform that shows visitors what it was like living in 18th and 19th century Holland.
At the Zaanse Schans you can stroll past the Bakery Museum and enjoy the smell of fresh bread, or take a look at the warehouse where clogs are made. You can pop into the cheese factory, the pewter foundry, or go into the various traditional windmills.
The Zaanse Schans also has a marvellous collection of well-preserved houses, characteristic private residences, museums, and historic windmills!
The type of windmill of yore!
TAKE ME THERE?
As you know, I’m a great believer in train travel, so as is the norm, I booked seats on the ever-popular Deutsche Bahn train going to Amsterdam.
Our journey from Berlin took just 8.5 hours with a stop-over and 6.5 hours, without! But of course, you can just as easily fly into Amsterdam Airport Schiphol which from most European countries, takes less than 2 hours, and is a destination flown by many major airlines around the world.
If you’re on a tight budget then many bus-coach companies such as Eurolines, or MeinFernbus FlixBus also land in Amsterdam. But do be aware that the Amsterdam Bus station is in Amsterdam Sloterdijk, and although 5 minutes away by train, is still going to cost you €3.20 (+chip card) to get to Amsterdam-Centraal, as it’s in the suburban area! Also, if you arrive at 03:00 then you have a bit of a wait, as the last train leaves at 01:22, and the first one leaves at 05:41!
And the shops at the train station are closed!
There is a bus that will take you into the city, but unless you have “business” in the wee hours of the morning, you won’t be able to check in anywhere. Hence, as soon as I got into Amsterdam at about 06:00, I found a nice hotel and had a cup of tea until it became light and decent enough for me to check into my hotel at the time!
Anyway, whichever way you arrive, you need to make your way to Amsterdam-Centraal.
Zaandam: The train runs twice an hour, is 2 stops away from Amsterdam, and takes just 13 -14 minutes, and costs €2.70 for a single ticket.
Zaandijk Zaanse Schans: The train runs twice an hour, is 4 stops away from Amsterdam, and takes just 18 -20 minutes, and costs €3.10 for a single ticket.
For more information about public transport in Amsterdam, or anywhere in Holland, check out the Dutch Railway website!
IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?
Not in the winter it isn’t!
But in the summer, plan well.
Outside of Amsterdam proper, it’s really popular attracting 1.4 million visitors per year.
But then again, not really!
I mean, if you’re in Amsterdam for the weekend, you’re hardly likely to go off somewhere else, when a weekend is hardly sufficient in the first place!
WHAT IS ZAANDAM LIKE?
I was only there for literally a night and a day, but Zaandam definitely made an impression on me.
Zaandam is a place of historical interest, where people go about their normal everyday business even though there were Dutch houses everywhere. If you were to go to Pennsylvania in the US, it would be a bit like that. But normal!
The Zaanse Schans is charming and fun and the type of place very eager to welcome tourists and entertain you. With seven (7) houses turned into seven (7) museums: The Weavers House, the Cooperage, the Jisper House, Zaan Time Museum, Albert Heijn Museumshop, Bakery Museum. And loads of windmills. You just can’t go wrong!
I DON’T SPEAK DUTCH.
Not. A. Problem.
Everyone pretty much speaks English in Holland!
AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?
Ha! Ha! Not unless you want to!
I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
I’ll be honest with you. Amsterdam isn’t cheap.
I can’t give you any details but for the more budget conscious traveller, there are plenty of hostels and other moderately priced accommodation to be had. Book ahead to get good prices.
I’M LOOKING FOR SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT. ANY IDEAS?
I had my child in tow, so I was looking for something a little bit more charming than your average hotel.
And I found it!
I was surfing on the internet (as you do), when I saw a picture of a weird-looking house.
I wanted to know more, so I booked it!
We stayed at a rather unique 4 star hotel called the Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam!
The hotel has an impressive facade which has a sort of stacking feature so that it looks like a house made out of Lego!
The Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam is a building with a lot of character, and surprisingly, it was not the only one. There were more such houses in the Zaan region!
How many times have you thought, ooooh this house looks lovely? Oh, and this one. And this one! I bet never!
It was such a pleasure on a cold, windy, freezing, rainy morning to wander around from one interesting building to another. And because windmills!
The Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam is one of a kind and offers the best of tradition with modern-day comfort. The hotel’s green façade of traditional Zaan houses is a real eye-catcher, and the interiors of the hotel rooms reflect the rich history, traditional products, the pioneers of local craft industries, and the families who made the area world famous!
Yep! You probably won’t find this anywhere else!
We booked the Taste Deluxe Room with impressive colourful photographs on the wall. It also had a flat screen TV, a huge wardrobe large enough for a teenager to get into for fun…
But don’t do that, as we found it enormously difficult to open, in order to get him out again…!
There was a table, some fancy designer furniture, and lots of plug outlets.
There was a small fridge, a tin box of proper tea bags (oh yes!), milk, sugar and coffee.
The bathroom was huge with a bath tub and shower part that had a glass panel that didn’t really do the job, as you either had to keep your back to the wall, otherwise, there would be water everywhere.
And there was water. Everywhere!
We, of course, had an en-suite bathroom with bath gels and shampoo which I liked enormously, and at the end of a long day was awfully welcoming, plenty of fluffy towels, and free WiFi!
The Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam also had a sauna, spa centre, and swimming pool which was packed with adults, and judging by the screams of laughter, having a merry old time!
It looked pretty nice though, as we had a sneak peek!
The lobby was really nice with comfy leather sofas, crisp daily newspapers and glossy magazines. There was also a sort of waterfall outside, and a river. And the view was pretty amazing!
Breakfast wasn’t included, so we decided to have dinner at the hotel instead.
It was delightful.
We had the hotels’ 3 course à la carte dinner for just €29.50 each (not including drinks). I’ll tell you all about that next week!
The Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam can be booked from €126.00 per night, which for two (2) people would be €63.00 a pop, and an absolute Amsterdam bargain!
WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?
Zaandam is pretty small so everywhere is walkable.
You could also cycle, take the bus, the train, or go horse-riding!
If you’re in Amsterdam proper, don’t forget to buy a public transport OV-chip card. Tickets can be got from ticket machines at the Centraal Station, or besides some of the tram stops. They can even be bought in the tram, the bus, and from newspaper shops! Once you enter the tram or bus, you scan your card. And on leaving, you scan the card again. It’s a little like an Oyster card in London.
However, just like in Berlin, there are no barriers, and we all want to keep it that way, so please buy your ticket!
A coffee shop doesn’t sell coffee!
Don’t be caught out. If you’re looking for a cup of tea, you need to go to a cafe!
I really liked Zaandam.
It’s got art and culture and has a vibrant history.
For many international visitors, Zaandam isn’t a destination that immediately comes to mind, but if you’re in Amsterdam and looking for somewhere different, or going to Northern Holland! Do yourself a favour and drop in for a day or two.
WOULD I COME AGAIN?
Zaandam is intriguing and I can’t wait to visit again.
Let’s do it!
HOW TO VISIT AMSTERDAM: INTRODUCING ZAANDAM – A DUTCH TRADITIONAL TOWN WITH WINDMILLS!
This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the wonderful windmills and funny-looking Dutch houses that we happily saw, are my very own!
It’s almost February!
If you’re a blogger or just like travelling, and you’re in town, then come and meet us at the Berlin Travel Massive February MeetUp on February 9th.
The 67th Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, will take place from 09.02.17 – 19.02.17
Strictly Stand Up – The English Comedy Night will take place at the Quatsch comedy Club on 15.02.17. Save the Date!
If you’re not in Berlin in February, you’re going to miss out!
February is going to be unmistakable!
Watch this space!
Please also note that there is now a Booking.com affiliate link (for the very first time) connected to a few hotels. Please consider using the link, because every time some sort of accommodation is booked via my link I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself! A win-win for all!
Thanks a million!