All Things Holland – Tulips, Cheese, Clogs and Windmills

All Things Holland – Tulips, Cheese, Clogs and Windmills

“There isn’t a single windmill owner in Holland who doesn’t have a second job, for when there is no wind.”  Johnny Ball

What comes into your mind when you think of Holland? Tulips, Cheese, Windmills and Clogs.You have to leave Amsterdam to see all these things properly. You are definitely missing out if you don’t get out to the countryside. I did such an interesting day tour with Gerk Kazemier. (gerkk@hotmail.com). He is knowledgeable and fun. I highly recommend spending a day with him in the country.

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We started at Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, the best place in the world to see tulips and spring flowers if you are there between April 1 and June 20.

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‘Keukenhof’ means Kitchen Garden and in the 15th century, supplied herbs and vegetables for the Castle belonging to Countess Jacoba van Beieren.

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It is now a floral world of tulips in every color imaginable.

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It is the largest flower park in the world.

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Each year different artists are invited to show their work which adds a quirky element to the gardens.

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There is a whole spectrum of magic in bloom with new creations and formations at every turn.

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Walking along the paths of the park is an extraordinary experience.

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I passed many tulip fields outside Amsterdam

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I was there at the beginning of April. This winter was very cold so they were not in full bloom yet but still spectacular.

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The picturesque village of Edam is particularly known for its cheese covered in red or yellow wax.

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The canals and reflections are worthy of any great artist .

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it was once a port, but today its main trade is tourism.

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Cobbled streets, storied architecture and picturesque canals spanned by centuries-old drawbridges, can be found throughout Edam.

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Every scene is a picture is a perfect postcard.

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Wandering around the quaint and quiet streets is a photographer’s dream.

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I did not see anyone wearing clogs in Amsterdam but it is still an important part of Dutch culture. They are the oldest surviving footwear in Europe and are still used in agricultural communities.

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Though now they are machine made, at the Zaanse Schans, you can see the shoes being crafted by hand. They were recyclable and when they were worn out, they were used for fuel for the fireplaces.

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My favorite are the wedding clogs. When a boy wanted to get engaged, he would place a pair of beautifully carved clogs, outside the door of the girl’s home. If she took them in, they were engaged.

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Zaanse Schans is really touristy and there are better places to see windmills but if you are trying to do a lot in one day it is an excellent option. They have a collection of well preserved eighteenth and nineteenth century windmills.

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The windmills are actually beautifully working mills that perform various functions including a sawmill, paint mill, oil mill and mustard mill.

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I didn’t know that windmills were used to make paint pigments out of raw materials. The De Kat mill at Zaanse Schans is believed to be the only remaining paint making windmill. The huge grindstones inside crush the limestone into a fine powder and pack it with natural pigments.

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It is paint used by the Dutch artists during the Golden Age of Painting.

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It is the paint used to fix old paintings and the paint that Rembrandt used.

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Who does not want a picture with a windmill in Holland? Sometimes even I have to drop my nothing fazes me New Yorker attitude and be a geeky tourist.

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Fly safe,
JAZ

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