By Courtney Hall
There are so many great places to visit in Europe: Germany, England, France, Belgium. . .the Netherlands! I think sometimes the Netherlands are overlooked, but this is a great country and it’s oh-so-beautiful! If you have a quick weekend to spend while you’re stationed in Europe, here are three Dutch must-dos:
View the tulips
Keukenhof is a must, for anyone who remotely likes nature. It’s hosted in March every year and is worth the trip. You pull up to the parking lot which is surrounded by fields upon fields of tulips. Huge strips of land, looking as if they stretch for miles are stripped with reds, yellows, purples, pinks and white–all tulips. This beautiful tapestry is surrounded by walking paths and a stream so guests can walk around or among the tulips and they can take a boat tour.
If you go tour the gardens, your eyes will feast on boxes and planters full of tulips, lilacs, and every imaginable spring flower. The gardens can take hours to walk through, but it’s entertaining as landscapers have planted the flowers in different designs. The gardens also house multiple restaurants, streams, gift shops, playgrounds, a gorgeous lake, and a windmill.
Zaanse Schans is just a half hour away from Keukenhof and is just as beautiful. The little town houses a well preserved collection of old windmills and houses. Tour multiple windmills and see how they operate. You can view sawmill windmills, smock windmills (used for grinding flour for bakers), and so much more. And let’s not forget the wooden shoe workshop! Koojiman Souvenirs & Clogs is simply a must. Watch the workers demonstrate how they make and design the shoes. There are thousands of wooden shoes, all different colors and sizes for one to choose from. Then wander into the Verkade Pavilijoen, a chocolate factory! These mouth watering chocolates will hold you over until you can make your way down to De Kraai Pancake restaurant. . . because what goes better with delicious Dutch chocolate than world-famous Dutch pancakes?! Finally, visit the historic Albert Heijn Grocery Store. This is kind of Dutch’s version of Walmart. A kind man started what he thought would be a small store that has now grown into a huge chain supermarket.
Zaanse Schans is just 27 minutes from Amsterdam. My family and I decided we were going to have to visit this magical country again so we passed on Amsterdam for this trip, but for those wanting to make a long weekend of it, this is an easy trip to do. There are bed and breakfasts all over that can keep costs down.