Well, it had to happen sooner or later..July 9 in the Netherlands
Monday is Gesloten Day in the Netherlands. Many cafés and museums are closed so we had some difficulty finding things to do with Alison on the last day of her visit. Earlier in the week she'd mentioned wanting to see some traditional windmills and up til yesterday we hadn't seen any up close.
After a too brief scan of internet I found a place boasting several windmills and traditional houses in the same area. Not only that, but it was also a short bus ride from the center of Amsterdam. Due to my lack of due diligence I take full responsibility for the way the day unfolded.
The first sign that this might not be a good idea was that the public bus was twice as expensive as I'd read on the bus system website. I looked around as we boarded and realized that we were only surrounded by fellow tourists. As we pulled away, a gaggle of three, twenty something, Chinese women began peppering their Mandarin with Sitcom English phrases such as "You don't know nothin' honey" and "Oh no she did-ent!".
As we neared our destination the bus threaded itself through several warehouse districts before stopping in what seemed to be an office park. We de-bussed next to a modern building housing the Dutch Heritage museum. As we followed the throngs around the building and past twenty or so private tour busses, my anxiety about the day just picked up speed and pitch.
Zaanse Schans is a fictional village with traditional housing and windmills collected from around the area into one special theme park. The paths, shops, and pretend cafés were teeming! The scene stretched out as far as we could see. It was like Williamsburg, but with no historical geographical reference. No one had ever lived in this place. There were no stories of so and so having done such and such back in the day. It was open farmland converted to something else. Sort of like the orange groves in Southern California giving way to Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm.
Given my very low tolerance for places with people in them, we ended up doing a quick walk around and snapping a few photos before heading back to the bus.
We were largely silent on the ride back. I felt pretty low for having made Alison's last day into such a thing. Looking around at the factories, shipping yards, and neighborhoods surrounding Zaanse Schans I began to suspect that this whole traditional Holland attraction was perhaps a redevelopment venture. Some way of lifting up a pretty blighted area with an injection of some international cash. Not such a bad thing really.Read more