19 August 2016

Shopping in Haarlem and Seeing the Windmills in Zaanse Schans

While Amsterdam is Holland's gem, there is a lot more to see to this green and rainy country. What I took with me from this day trip was Haarlem's variety of shops and Zaanse Schans's old fashioned aura. Keep reading to see some pictures of these typical Dutch places!

The picture of this street pretty much sums up what Haarlem city centre is about - lots of shops, both chains and independent ones. I let myself indulge in a pair of black leather boots, which I absolutely needed for the upcoming university year (in which it's going to rain loads and get cold and I'm going to need an all-day pair of shoes anyway). 

I was a bit surprised at how empty the city was, but perhaps this is what some Northern European cities are like, since in many areas population is very low. 

A local independent shop!
The main square 
I love when restaurants and caf├ęs write on blackboards what's on the menu :)

So I would say that overall Haarlem was quite nice, even though not amazing, but definitely a good glimpse of what Holland is like outside the capital. A morning is enough to visit it.

Next stop was Zaanse Schans, one of the spots where you can stop to see windmills. To be honest, seeing the windmills was more like an off-my-bucket-list kind of thing since it's not that incredible. A cool thing though is that if you enter one of them it smells great because spices were often grounded there. But I did enjoy visiting this little town a lot, since most shops are independent and offer the cutest souvenirs and homemade cakes. Be warned of the risks of entering a Dutch bakery - such as eating loads of cakes! I bought some carrot cake, vegan balls made by dates, chia seeds and more ingredients and a chocolate brownie, and everything tasted delicious.

Not only Amsterdam has houses on water :)

Strolling through Zaanse Schans's houses, you can get to see people's little farms and vegetable garden which is just lovely. I saw sheep, chickens and more. Don't think I could ever live here, but seeing families and elderly people nurturing such hobbies was so nice. 

This little house is a spot for books swopping in a neighbourhood. Needless to say I immediately fell in love with it.

This day trip was useful to get to know a non-touristic Holland. I'm still a big fan of Amsterdam but enjoyed seeing a different side to the country. I hope to come go back soon because I loved it, from the little details to the natural panoramas and the mindset of the people. Doei!

Have you been anywhere outside Amsterdam? What did you think? 

Check out my last Dutch post here!