25 December 2016
It was a cold and windy day, 25th of December. We took the early morning train, darkness was covering the quiet atmosphere after Christmas. Zaanse Schans was less than 20 minutes away from Amsterdam Central.
One station before destination, a local man boarded the train, we smiled at him, getting a kind smile back. As we got off the train, the man approaches and asks: “Are you going to Zaanse Schans?“. We were just thinking of asking him help, but when luck is with you, appreciate and be grateful about it. We replied happily with a grin in our face: “Yes!”, waiting for the next question we expected: “Do you want me to show the route?“.
While on our way, he told us he was working on Sunday as well: “So there is no Christmas for me” – looking a bit tired, but happy and positive. And the next day was his birthday. “When you get old, you don’t celebrate birthdays anymore here.” We laughed. And as we started to smell something quite like chocolate, he pointed to the right saying: “This is the biggest chocolate factory in Europe.” We couldn’t believe, what was happening was real.
He said we had to wait a little while for some light, and we were expecting to see the sunrise, but the weather wasn’t favorable. He showed then a picture of windmills he’d taken: “It is different everytime” – he said, “and you always take a new picture of it.” Waiting for the right moment, he explained the village was 500+ years old and was built between two windmills: Life and Death. “And this one is Death” – he pointed to the windmill in the right corner of the bridge, “Life is in the South of the village.“.
Thanking him for his kindness, we greeted and he went back to the route to his work. We hear a nice lady with a dog calling from the other side of the bridge: “You have to walk over here. And Merry Christmas!” Thank you people!
It was still dark , though we could see the windmills from the bridge. We expected something great and beautiful, but what was in front of us mesmerized us both.
As we went on, following the route through the village, full of wooden green houses, decorated with lights, along the river De Zaan. Then we arrived at this spot where you could see closely the windmills performing with the help of the strong wind: Flour, Saw, Oil, Paint and Spice Mills.
You just couldn’t get enough of that place. Its calmness wrapped us all over. A desire to be enjoy it as a local would, to wake up there everyday, to do the daily chores, to experience the work of mills, live it.
As the light was slowly giving life to everything surrounding us you could hear the sound of roosters, ducks, gulls. After shooting some pictures around, the day got even better.
Following some tourists who just got around, into one of the green houses, we entered a shop of chocolates and cheese. We tried every kind of cheese there was. Even cheese with lavender! A paradise of cheese!
Then we rushed to check if we could visit the chocolate factory as well. We didn’t know where to go exactly, so we were wandering around confused. And to our surprise again, a man followed us and called from behind:
“Do you need help, where do you want to go, I saw you looked confused, searching for something?”
“We wanted to visit the chocolate factory, but we don’t know its entrance.” we said.
“I don’t know if it is opened” he said “but let me ask my father in law for details, we’re going to the church.”
“Merry Christmas by the way!”
He asked in dutch and said chocolate museum was back at Zaanse Schans, but unfortunately we had not much time left to go back. We thanked and greeted the good man and continued our way to train station happily shocked. People are so incredible!
― N & J
— Zaanse Schans, Netherlands