It’s impossible to live in Holland and not experience all of the typical Dutch images within moments of stepping off the plane, but to get them all in one place requires a trip to the quaint, country village of Zaanse-Schans.
After my US visit I decided some Dutch culture was in order, so I called Maria who I met through my Kopervos who taught with her in Milan, and made a plan to go into the countryside with a few of her fellow expat teachers.
The first meeting of my new friends was at the train station – Maria, the Long Islander with Spanish ancestry and an Irish last name, introduced me to the British Tracey who had came to Amsterdam via China, San Francisco, & France and Andrew, the Italian-Canadian Guidance Counselor who moved over from Istanbul. It was immediately apparent that this interesting mesh of backgrounds and people was going to lead to some very fun times!
The smell of chocolate lead us to the river Zaan where we caught the ferry to our destination, the wind mill and thus industrial center - known for producing pigment and mustard - of the Zaandam region. Our day of site seeing included a stop at the very first Albert Heijn market, which is now the largest grocery in the Netherlands, the inner-workings of a still functioning wind mill, the fascinating creation of a wooden shoe, and some cheese tasting at the farm where the goats & chickens milled around a signed that warned “too much bread and we are dead.”
Our visit to Zaanse-Schans concluded with some savory pancakes and pink beers in a few rare moments of sunshine, but the friendships have kept going and with every new adventure, are getting better and better!