Today we reached the ship’s home port of Amsterdam. When you think of Holland, you think of several things: windmills, wooden shoes, tulips, and cheese. Today’s excursion had them all and was called “Windmills & Edam”.
First we visited the town of Edam. It’s a small town riddled with picturesque canals and houses. Years ago it was a bustling cheese making (Edam of course) town but very little cheese is made here today. We only saw one cheese store on our trip however we didn’t have time to buy any.
We saw a second shop in a beautifully decorated building but it has gone out of business.
However in front of the building was a metal sculpture of cheese vendors who used to carry their cheese to the market using cheese sledges.
After some further time looking at other buildings, we moved on to the windmill park of Zaanse Schans. Here there about seven working windmills and other attractions.
The first place we visited was the wooden shoe making store. Shoes used to be made by hand and took several hours for one pair. Now they use machines and a pair can be made in approximately 10 minutes.
After watching the demonstration we were given a little free time for souvenir buying. Anyone want a pair of clogs? We also saw some pretty fancy ones. Of course we had to stop for a photo at the giant shoes.
We then proceeded to the windmills. The windmill we visited is used to make limestone dust/powder for commercial use. The limestone rock is poured on to the grinding surface and a set of huge wheels are run over it until it reaches a powder consistency. The grinding wheels are driven by the wind. The powder is then bagged for shipment. A smaller set of wheels are used to grind colored stones into dust for used as pigment powder for artist’s paints. Other windmills are still grinding wheat to make flour or working as an active sawmill.
We were feeling a little hungry so we stopped at the bakery for a Dutch Syrup Waffle called “Stroopwafel”. It’s two thin waffles with syrup pressed between them. Sorry, but we ate them before we thought about taking a picture.
By now it was time to head back to the ship.
Later That Day….
Holland America Line sponsored a special event for us. They had a special closed door party at the Rijks Art Museum. The entire museum was open only for us. A band played music all night, snacks were in abundance, and free wine and soft drinks were served. Also the entire art collection was open for viewing!
Paul and I had a glass of wine then proceeded to listen to an interesting lecture on Rembrandt. This was great as we then toured the special Rembrandt collection that was being shown this year. Public tickets for this collection have been sold out for months.
Two of the paintings the Lecturer mentioned were the young and old self portraits demonstrating different techniques he used over the years.
We also got to view one of the other familiar paintings call “The Syndics”. You probably remember them from “Dutch Masters” cigar boxes.
The main attraction was the huge painting we call “Night Watch”. A special room was set aside just for this painting. Rembrandt’s use of color and light really enhances the viewing experience. Paintings by many of Rembrandt’s contemporaries often look dull, posed, and lifeless compared to similar paintings by Rembrandt. This painting has a real feeling of action. It was a great pleasure to see this masterpiece in person.
Down the hall was another great painting called “The Milkmaid” painted by one of Ron’s favorite artists, Johannes Vermeer.
Having seen many of these paintings in movies, TV programs, books, etc., it was a real privilege to see them in real life. Thank you, Holland America.