Windmills used to be one of the most famous landmarks of Netherlands, fighting in present to win the unfair competition with the modern touristic attraction like the Red light district, the famous Madame Tussauds, or other museums less artistic, dedicated exclusive to the adults.
Over the time, the windmills cluttered in the center of the capital Amsterdam were slowly relocated to the suburbs where the wind conditions were more favorable, making space to the countless cafeterias where the joints of marijuana are smoked freely and legally and to the nasty shops which display a wide varieties of condoms and other sexual toys for the foreigners and locals delight.
Zaanse Schans, an open air museum dedicated to the windmills
Only eight historical windmills were preserved and today stand beautifully aligned next by a lake in Zaanse Schans, a small town located 30 minutes away from Amsterdam.
Stepping out of the train I am entering the magic land of a fairytale, wandering the cobblestones streets in a warm sunny day of October. The smell of fresh baked bread, wooden houses and green fields are inviting me to discover the life style of 18th and 19th century.
Around the corner, De Goyer, one of the most iconic and oldest mill of Amsterdam is welcoming the tourists for the past 300 years, tempting them with the best beer in Amsterdam, brewed just next door.
Excited, I continue my journey and I am not disappointed at all when, over the bridge, I discover few other mills gracious dancing in the wind.
If in the past the windmills used to serve various purposes from grinding different grains (including the mustard, the favorite dutch condiment) to preventing the city from the floods, in present their activity is resumed to office work (like De Bloem) or just enchanting the tourists.
Local cafeterias, cheese factories and clog museums (dutch famous wooden shoes) are opening their doors for the visitors who decide to spend an enjoyable day in the middle of the nature.
“Too much bread and …we are dead”
The little ones (but not only) are delighted and jump restless from a place to another, playing inside of the giant shoes or feeding the poor goats who are overwhelmed not only by the bread ingested but also by the attention received, always looking cute and ready for pictures.
A journey of a thousands miles begins with a fabulous pair of…clogs
Few noisy scholars are writing their homework inside the Clog museum under the close supervision of their teachers and what can be more pleasant than a quiz where all the answers can be found behind a showcase filled with history about…shoes.
Traditional clogs are still used in present in agriculture and in some factories to prevent the mud from touching the feet being often associated with cheap footwear wore by the farmers in the past. However new, modern clogs are considered fashionable today and can be very expensive especially if they are covered with Swarovski or other precious stones.
The heaven of shoes is just one step away and its so charming for the tourists who cant leave Netherlands without the right pair of clogs or…for those with strict baggage allowance at least with some miniature keys chains.
The beautiful town across the Zaan river
Some nasty clouds are taking over the sun, reminding me that weather can be unpredictable during autumn and I decide to return to the hotel but not before paying a short visit to the mystical town radiating its beauty in magnetic waves from the other side of the lake.
Here, the atmosphere change completely, the foreigners giggles being replaced with a deep, mesmerizing… silence. I can almost hear the soft autumn breeze, the leafs losing the battle with life and laying now hopeless on the pavement.