The Netherlands: Day 1(Part II) – Zaanse Schans

After the Peace Palace we walked the remainder of the way to our car and drove up to Zaanse Schans, a place everyone (everyone on TripAdvisor, that is) said we should go to get the real “Holland experience.”  

When we first stepped out of the car there was this overwhelming aroma of cocoa.  There was a cocoa plant nearby and the smell of it almost made you feel warm, it was so divine.  

Zaanse Schans is really just a well-preserved neighborhood on the Zaan river, that exists now primarily for tourists.  It definitely has charm. It was really windy but we had a good time.  The first thing we did was learn all about the wooden shoe.  It was really fun to see how they were made and how once they were dried, they actually weigh very little. It’s mostly moisture in wood that makes it heavy. (My kids, and even Richard, were skeptical about wooden shoes so the presentation and mini-museum were my vindication. Someone might have said “Wow. So they actually wore these.”)

After observing and discovering the world’s first crocs, we went to the pancake house for lunch.  Richard called these pancakes, “Pancrepes” because they were a cross between what Americans call pancakes and what the French call crepes. They were as big as the plates, but thinner than a pancake and thicker than a crepe.  They were really yummy.  Eli had honey, Richard and Cameron had nutella and “slagroom” (Dutch word for whipped cream), Simon had apples and cinnamon, Miriam had chocolate sauce and I was the only one to go for savoury, with bacon and cheese.  Mmmm the best cheese on a pancake I’ve ever had. 
After lunch we spent a couple hours walking around the village, looking at the windmills up close and taking a lot of photos.  There were also other “exhibits” and presentations including one about cheese, complete with samples. 

Simon sampling smoked goat cheese.


For all the trouble I go to attempting to stage the perfect photo and failing, I deserve a candid shot like this once in awhile. They really had worked out this hand-holding arrangement completely on their own.

We left Zaanse Schans with plenty of time to drive back to The Hague and make a trip to a grocery store to buy food and prepare dinner.  But we didn’t account for a lot of things.  We didn’t account for the fact that grocery stores are hard to find in the heart of a city like The Hague.  We didn’t account for the fact that most grocery stores don’t take Visa.  We didn’t account for the fact that at least three cash machines would be broken.  And of course we accounted for, but underestimated our ability to find said stores and cash machines even with a smart phone.  All of these oversights made for an adventurous two or three hours, that included the help of a really nice man named Mustafa who escorted me all around a dodgy part of the city while Richard drove around with the kids in the car and we couldn’t communicate because I have no cell service outside the UK.  It was such a nightmare and I was so grumpy by the time we finally made it to a store, cash in hand, that I made Richard do it for me.  

Needless to say, by the time we got home, cooked dinner and put everyone to bed I was exhausted.  

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