Sunday, June 24
6:30AM Temperature about 50 °F and Overcast
7:00AM Breakfast buffet in the hotel: Fruit, cereal, pastries, scrambled eggs w/bacon, O.J., coffee.
8:40AM We met our tour bus nearby and rode to a bus terminal where we boarded our bus destined for the Village of Edam, and Zaandam
10:00 - 10:30AM We walked through the quiet town of Edam (Pop. 8,000. Founded 1357.) Brick paved streets and walks. Many gabled roofs. A few canals made their way through the town, which is surrounded by rural gardens, farms, sheep and cows. Most of the land was recovered from dried up lakes. The farms are cultivated by water from the canals.
11:00AM - 1:00PM Zaamstad Windmills, Wooden shoe factory, Cheese factory.
Many of the buildings in this area, including windmills, have been relocated.
Our first stop was to witness a demonstration in the manufacture of wooden shoes. This was very fascinating. We initially saw how they were made manually, which would require 3/5 hours to shape a shoe from a block of pine wood. Then the workman placed a pine wood block, about 6 inches long, into a machine, clamped it into place, turned on the motor, and within 3/5 minutes he showed us a completely formed outer shoe, with the exception of the small knob at the toe and heel which he cut off. The next phase of manufacture was to clean out the inner part of the shoe with another machine operation. The building was surrounded by all kinds of wooden shoes, many of them for wall decorative purposes. He said it takes 3/5 weeks to dry out the wood. Wearing woolen socks with a finger space in the heel area is best for these shoes, and they are completely waterproof and warm. We saw no wooden shoes in our travels and assume that they are more acclimated to country/farm use.
We saw the manufacture of cheese in our next stop. This was followed by a visit to their retail end where you could purchase all sorts of cheese....and chocolates!
We walked further in the same complex to visit the De Koeker Windmill. Built in 1672, the De Zoeker (The Seeker) mill in Zaandam is one of only 20 left from an original 1,000 that made the Zaan district one of the oldest industrial areas in the world. In its hay day, the De Zoeker mill produced vegetable oils primarily made from linseed and grape seed. Large circular millstones crushed the seeds, after which the powder was heated, placed in bags and pounded repeatedly to squeeze out the oil. Once the oil had been extracted, the left over "cake" was sold off as cattle fodder. We entered this very old mill to observe its massive millstone grinding the seeds to make peanut oil. The seeds were heated and place into woolen bags and were pounded repeatedly be a striking ram, which was quite loud. All this was put in motion be the windmill. Once the oil had been extracted, the left over "cake" was sold off as cattle fodder. We were able to climb a very steep narrow set of steps to make our way to the outside platform which surrounds the windmill - and the only way to return was to descend another set of very steep ladder steps!
Having given way to modern machinery - there are still a number of working windmills to be found. Nowadays, though, it's more for the sake of tourists than for commercial use.
The Dutch have always struggled with the North-Sea and their Rivers, that's why there are a lot of Windmills in Holland. Some of them were used to pulverize grain and other food, some were to maintain the water level in the rivers and canals. The Windmills were used until the beginning of the 20th century.
3:00 - 4:15PM After our tour we were back in town and walked a number of side streets and did locate Anne Frank’s house, where there were quite a number of people queued to enter the building. This house at no. 263 is where the young Jewish girl Anne Frank (1929-45) hid from the Nazis and wrote her memerable diary. The earlier you get here the better, because the line to get in grows as the day progresses.
Anne Frank Home
We did locate some tulips (wooden) which now adorn our kitchen table.
5:00PM We purchased some sandwiches and a banana to eat back in our Swissotel room, and also to rest a bit.
After confirming our Delta flight schedule and lining up a taxi for tomorrow morning, we continued our exploration of the city. There was rain off and on throughout the day, so our rain gear came in handy.
Walk today: 5.1 miles