Balsam's take on Europe: Zaandam, the Netherlands

Sunday, November 29, 2015

I always love to spend my free time with traveling, as I believe that it is the best way to develop yourself as a person. There is always something fun to learn, and exciting people to meet! 

Last weekend, I spend it in Zaandam, a city which is located in North Holland. We visited the Zaanse Schans which is a very popular windmill destination here in the Netherlands, as it is the location where a collection of functioning saw mills, oil mills, a spice mill and many more interesting historical events/places - and not to mention that the view there is unbelievably beautiful!

Zaandam ( I like to call it the Ducth lazy town due to its colorful and unique architecture ) is the topic for today's travel post :)


The first thing you notice when stepping out at the train station in Zaandam is the smell in the air; it was an immediate reaction! The air smells like a mixture of cacao, paint and other products produced in Zaandam. The city is known to have several factories, specifically cacao processing, mustard and paint factories. The smell is very dominant throughout the city.

In addition to the strange smell, the architecture of the central station fits well with the rest of the theme around the city. It was noticed that green was a very central theme in Zaandam

Zaandam Central Station
One of the highlights in Zaandam is the building at which the Inntel hotel is located, as it consists of 70 small colorful houses (mainly green again!) on top of each other. The hotel is a very popular attraction for tourists because of its architecture. I was of course drawn into staying at the hotel (which is by the way the coolest hotel I have stayed in during my travels in the Netherlands). 

The hotel itself is located directly in front of the central station, and is in the heart of the center, making it an ideal place to stay when visiting Zaandam. The bus station is also a 2 minute walk from the entrance of the hotel and has connections to the Zaanse Schans which is very convenient for tourists. 

Inntel Hotels, Zaandam
I took the time to investigate the 'strange' smell I encountered throughout the city, so I asked the receptionist at the hotel and he confirmed that its due to the factories around the area. What was funny about the question is that the local people no longer notice that there is a smell in the air, as they got used to it, so the receptionist was rather astonished by our question. The staff in the hotel were extremely helpful and cooperative.

Inside the Inntel hotels, Zaandam
The following morning after arrival, we took off at noon to visit the Zaanse Schans to see the working windmills there. The journey was very quick from the center of Zaandam, as you can easily find the bus stations, take bus number 68 towards Assendelft via Zaandijk, and stop at the Zaandijk Guisweg / Zaanse Schans stop and from there you can walk for a few minutes and you will be able to see the windmills immediately. Following the crowd always helps, as most people visiting the area have the same goal :D

On my way to Zaans Schans
Zaanse Schans

Me busy taking photographs of the location
One other historical location we visited is the oldest Albert Heijn (a leading chain of supermarkets here in the Netherlands), dating back to the 1800s. The supermarket is very small in comparison to the modern day Albert heijn stores, and I love how it is maintained in a classic way so all the equipment presented at the store was used back in the day the store was functioning. You can find products like chocolate and coffee there, which you can actually purchase!

Museumwinkel Albert Heijn
View of the windmills




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