|Today we did a day trip north from Amsterdam. First we drove the short distance to Zaans Schans to a windmill museum. At one time 1000 windmills worked here. But they dwindled to 20 after the Age of Steam by 1920. On 17 March 1925 De Zaansche Molen was founded to preserve the mills for future generations to see.
What we found here is a delightful old village from times gone by, 13 working windmills, each with a name, a large grassland, a few canals and volunteers. And although educational, definitely touristy. Everything costs....10 € to park, 4.50 € to enter a windmill, .50 € for WC and there are lots of souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants as well as a gift shop in each windmill.
BUT...of the 4 windmills we went in, we saw the working parts of a mill and learned some history. We saw grinders, the crankshafts, how the mill went together, the vanes and the sails. The gift shop was extensive here with lots of delfth-like windmills, tiles, etc.
From here we went to a mill that ground rock to make paints, pastels and chalk. We climbed to the 2nd and 3rd floors to observe each action....the grinding, the crankshaft, and the vanes working. The 3rd mill was a sawmill and after a movie, we were taken on a short tour. We learned how logs were imported, floated up canals and stock-piled. They were then winched into position so the saws...on end...could saw the logs into boards. Today with little wind, only one log is being sawed at a rate of 1/2 m / hour. When the wind is blowing hard 3 sawing stations work at once and saw several meters an hour. We were not allowed to explore on our own because it is too dangerous. Next we explored an oil mill. Here seeds are ground and pressed to release their oils. The 'cakes' left over are used for cattle feed. We saw the inner workings and a short movie describing the process and clamoured up ladders to see the parts work. We were here for over 2 1/2 hours.
From hete we drove backroads to what the GPS called Edam but was Beets. We then went on...and back along N247 to Edam....another very Dutch little village on canals. Here we stopped to learn the process of making cheese, the difference between Jersy and Holstein milk and edam and gouda cheese. Jersys give less milk that is very high in butterfat (18 L. a day). Holsteins give 25 L. Edam is lower in butterfat. We learned that as cheese ages it loses fat not water as we thought.
We left our car parked and wandered along brick streets, up alleys, over a dyke made of brick, past slanting houses, into a flowershop/greenhouse with so many spring garden flowers I'd like to plant, and finally across the bridge and back to our car...another 2 hours.
We continued along N247 towards Amsterdam through farms with clusters of buildings stopping briefly at Monnickendam Waterland another interesting place with houses and boats on canals, a street tnrough town, huge paddle-like implements attached to the side of bigger boats (maybe used to steer the flat bottomed keeless boats in open water?), a hotel with a restaurant and bar and streets closed to cars.
From hete it was a short drive back to the hotel. A pleasant day.