I am a generally a well organised person, who plan holidays and city trips well in advance. This is also due to my accountancy background, to meticulously plan and budget for every foreseen expenditure and of course leave some room for the unexpected too. But not on the 17th of July 2017, which is my birthday. I had put in leave for the day, cause no one should be working on their birthday in any case..
Woke up, without an alarm on a Monday morning, from the strikingly hot sun with no plans for the day. I got out of bed, made a special breakfast and whilst having my bacon & eggs, thought that maybe I should go see the traditional Dutch town of Volendam.
To my surprise it was a short 40 minute bus ride (bus 110) away from Amsterdam, which the cost thereof only being €12 return trip. I whipped out my book, Long walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela and arrived in Volendam in no time. I even end up missing my actual bus stop (Julianna straat) and got off at the next (Vissersstraat) and walked an extra 8 min to the harbour area. My first impression of the town was really good – it was clean, with loads of green grasses, canals and traditional dutch brick houses with small, well-manicured, front lawns. Locals were casually walking their well-trained dogs and jogging by me.
I walked down Zeestraat and at the end of the street, on the right there’s a street vendor with the most delicious dutch softijs/ice-cream. I was now in the town’s favourite street of Haven, translated as the harbour. Quite fitting seeing this the harbour of the small town. There’s restaurants and shops, which looks like it was houses once, on the one side and water on the other, with quite a few boats parked.
As I continued my journey through the cute street, which was a little crowded for Monday afternoon. But it’s understandable, seeing that it was summer and holiday season. I stopped for lunch at the “Hollandse vis”/Hollands fish street vendor for a “vis mix”/fish mix, seeing that I love variety and tasting different delicacies. The dutch are not well known for their food, but their seafood is amazing. The mussels, calamari, kibbling fish, fish sticks, prawns with the garlic sauce was like a great explosion in my mouth. It was so fresh, as if it was caught that morning. Well worth my €5.
I took a seat at one of the many benches along the road, right next to an old chap named De Bap. De Bap is one of the many bronze statues along the street. On the opposite side of the street. I stared right into one of the many restaurant, that has shaded outside areas, perfect for people/tourists watching as they are admiring the beautiful scenery, with harbour as a backdrop.
As I continued walking, a lady dressed in traditional dutch attire was standing outside a shop, welcoming people as they entered. It was, like many others, including the Volendam Experience shop, where you can buy souvenirs and also take picture in the traditional dutch attire. On my next visit when my parents come to visit in September 2017, I definitely want to pop in and do that.
I then took a slight left, continuing down Havenstraat to find the cheese museum with free entrance. To the right was Havendijke street. I walked through the room and discovered how they made cheese in factories back in the older days, with the help of replicas of the machinery and storyboards. I went downstairs to the area where live cheese demonstrations are held, took a seat and waited for the show to start. They also have picturesque area, with a big cow down there – perfect for children’s entertainment. I then went back up to taste the various cheese they had on offer and the perfect sides to go with it. It was delicious!
I left the shop and continued down the street, with more restaurants and souvenir shops. And the end of the street there was a small beach like area, with people sitting on the sandy area.
I turned back and took a slight left down Havendijke street. It lead to a little island, with boats parked on the right and grass area, with benches on the left.
I decided to sit and read for a short while. It was perfect, the sun shining, hearing the water splashing against the shore, people taking relaxing walks, boats just floating about on the water every so often. I thought I found my happy place right then and there.
I then decided to take a leisurely walk to the Volendamse museum. I walked back down Haven straat, because I just love this serenity I feel there. I stopped at a green street vendor, that has a trophy for the best waffles in town. With my limited dutch, I decided to give it a try and ordered.. “Mag ik een kleine wafle, met room, rode & zwarte bessies alstublieft”/Can I please have a small waffle, with cream, red & blacj berries, the dutch man responded swiftly with, “ja, zeker jonge dame”. I was so chuffed with myself, especially seeing that the South African tourist ahead of me attempted to order in Afrikaans and got the response of “Wat zeg je?”/What are you saying?. Oh this waffle was heavenly sent – the berries was so fresh and juicily delicious. I had to take a seat, to fully enjoy every bite – What a treat for only €6.
The shop opposite the waffle stand, named Woltje’s, also sells waffles, as well as the local delicacy, “stroopwafles”. It is a unique experience, as you can witness how your stroopwafle is made. Definite must for next time.
On my way to the museum, I was distracted by the tower clock of the church a few meters away. The museum too shall be done next time. I had to go check out the clock and church, that always has fascinating doors. The doors were very plain and simple, but it still caught my eye in a major way. I am obsessed with beautiful doors.
It was then time to go home. I walked back to Julianna street to catch the bus back to the Amsterdam. I was captivated by this small dutch town – it was such a tranquil atmosphere and beauty can be found around every corner. A must for anyone!