Part 1 – Edam
Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Anne Frank… the essential check points of our travel wish-list to Amsterdam, the capital of the kingdom of The Netherlands. These were further highlighted by Tulips, cheese and Stroopwafels. Our trip to the The Netherlands was just short of a week and since there’s so much to see and do in the region, we kept our trip plans to be within and around the city of Amsterdam.
Our top pick for the day trip was the water land region – Edam, Volendam and Marken. Just about a half hour out of Amsterdam is Edam – the cheese town! The most known association with this picturesque village is of course the famous Edam cheese – big wheels of cheese covered in yellow and red wax.
The town, which was once a shipyard and a port, took wheels of Edam on their voyages. These don’t spoil easily and were traded mostly for spices with the east. The ships are long gone but the town that has its history rooted in the 12th century, with farmers and fishermen settling along the little Ye river, is now a favourite tourist destination with it’s well preserved gables, quiet canals, the great church, hand operated draw bridge and, not to mention, the cheese. From Yedam to Edam – this town with its authentic 17th century architecture, is quite a delight.
Our appetite was whetted in no time with the walking and the sight of all that cheese – big and small, round and all around. In many sizes and bright colors, beautifully displayed in souvenir shops, cheese markets and yes, restaurants.
Note to self : Next visit to plan on a Wednesday, in slightly warmer July or August, to see the farmers bringing the cheese on boats and horses to the Edamers, trading in their traditional attire.
Part 2 – Volendam
Continuing on the day trip from Amsterdam, of the water land region, we land on the very touristy town of Volendam. Vollendam, which literally means filled dam, was the original harbor for Edam. After the Edamers built a shorter canal and made their own separate harbor, this place was then dammed up to become the reclaimed land by the farmers and fishermen that were settled here. The promenade now is lined up with souvenir shops and eateries. Old fishing boats and some residents in their traditional clothing (elderly women wearing high, pointed bonnet) can be spotted while walking around the town. Remember the movie “Queen” starring Kangana Ranaut? the actors had set up a shop to sell Rani’s Gol Gappa with an Italian Marcello – here in Volendam.
Part 3, Marken
Marken is known for its characteristic houses built on poles and knolls. Characteristic indeed. I have never seen this kind of houses anywhere! We had to take a ferry (gladly!) to this town which was separated from mainland by a storm in the thirteenth century.
The population that started its history living in isolation for centuries, making their living as fishermen has continued to keep its quiet and quaint characteristics even now. In 1957, a dyke was built and it became a peninsula. Till 17th century, the little wooden houses were built on “werven”, artificial knolls – hillocks, to avoid wet feet. Thereafter they were built on poles. While the island does not get inundated by floods anymore, the old houses standing on polls still remain. Many of these wooden houses are listed as National Monuments.
Then comes the shoe factory that had a very entertaining demonstration of making clogs. A pair of wooden shoe is one of the popular souvenir besides cheese, tulip bulbs and little windmill models that one associates with a trip to Holland. The clog factory demonstrates the 100year old tradition of making of the wooden shoe.
As the Dutch would say, dank u for enjoying this trip with me. Tot ziens, see you later!