Countryside roads, windmills and old school towns are where you need to go in order to experience the true historical culture behind Holland. Volendam is a village north of Amsterdam and does just that. This town is known for two things, their fishermen and their musicians. Time stood still in this town as six centuries worth of character in the homes surrounding the town have been preserved throughout the years. The houses are all squished together with matching paint. There are tiny pathways around the canals throughout the town making it confusing to be aware of what direction you are walking in. Here we had the photo opportunity of the year to dress in the traditional folk clothing of the town. This folk clothing is still worn by some of the locals today and each town will have their own “style” of folk clothing as part of their identity and association to the community. David and I dressed in the local Volendam style of folk clothing for our photo moment, he really pulled it off well!
The second town we visited was Marken. This town was separated from the mainland after a storm in the 13th century leading to the town’s close and isolated history as a community. The majority of the people on the island were also fishermen, just across from Volendam. All the homes here were built on stilts as the town experienced frequent flooding until they built the dike that attached the community to the mainland again in 1957. After the dike was built, they filled in the empty spaces under their homes with additions, giving them more room. The houses in here are so close together some of them are only accessible by foot. Here we also visited a clog factory. Unfortunately, we missed the demonstration, but the building was filled to the top with every size of clog you could imagine. We then stopped for a drink and some poffertjes at the only open cafe in the town. It has been owned and operated by family members since 1903!
Our final true Holland experience was visiting some traditional windmills used to pump lake water in the Land of Leeghwater. If you are real windmill lovers I recommend going before October as they all close down for the winter starting in November. We still were lucky enough to see this water windmill just before dark and from the bridge you could see how much water just one windmill can move. These windmills were in Schermer and there were 3 of them all really close to each other. The craziest part about this area of Holland is knowing that all the land here is reclaimed land and people are living and working in places that lie as much as 12 feet below sea level.