Exploring Holland: Windmills and Clogs

Notes from the Netherlands. Part 5

Last week I came back from a very short but intensive vacation in the Netherlands. For the very first time I was there in April, meeting with other members of Scheepjes Bloggers Team. And after my trip a series of notes were published. You can find them HERE. For quite a long time my husband had been talking (and talking, and talking) about visiting Holland, so we finally decided to go there together. I made lots of pictures during this stay. Not all of them are crochet or yarn related. But I decided to share them with you. And also to keep my own memories in this way. Who knows: maybe you will read my notes and want to visit Holland as well. In the summer it is beau-ti-ful!

First spot of our stay was, of course, Amsterdam. And I found a huge difference between how it feels here in late April (with unpredictable cold and strong rains) and the summer (with warm weather and the same unpredictable rains). Amsterdam was blooming. Every narrow street was covered with small cute benches surrounded by endless bowls with flowers. I really liked the idea of flowers in bowls outside. And not only flowers but also trees! Need to think of something like this for my own tiny garden.

Amsterdam is the face of the Netherlands in many ways and I could write the whole post about it. But I better start with something else. With a bit of history and Dutch symbols. I will tell you about visiting Zaanse Schans – a small village near Amsterdam which is still breathing old history.

Only a century ago there were almost thousand manufacturing windmills in this area, a huge manufacturing zone was created here – by the way the very first in the world. Because of fires, war and just time many windmills were broken by the middle of XX century. And the very few which survived, were brought to the small village Zaanse Schans. And this is how the story of museum started.

Today the Zaanse Schans is one of the most bright and popular touristic sightseeing. The village (where people are living and working) gives a unique possibility to touch the atmosphere of Dutch village of XVII-XVIII centuries, and to see ancient crafts which made Holland famous.

You can see 6 working windmills. Except of them there are old warehouses and houses of local people. You can also see unique workshops where the old traditions of Holland are being carefully kept.

One of probably most interesting places (at least for me) was a museum of clogs. Together with cheese and windmills clogs have become a beloved souvenir by tourists from the whole world. And I am not surprised at all. Aren’t they just beautiful, cute, wonderful… how many more epithets can I add? Thousands of these wooden shoes are brought as souvenirs to different parts of the world every year. And today they are still used by some modern farmers.

I had a chance to see how they are made. Surprisingly the whole process is absolutely automated. I could imagine a crafter who is working with wood and knife by hands. But no. An unshaped piece of wood is just put into a special (already programmed) machine, and in less than 5 minutes a rough shape is ready! Then a few human touches are needed: to bring the shape to the end, cut the front and back, polish… and paint, of course!! But before paining each clog should be left to completely dry out for approx. 4 weeks.

Our guide (a very fun and engaged crafter) told that because clogs are quite hard to walk in, they should be worn with wool socks. I got a chance to shortly walk in them in Haage :) It was much fun, and not so hard. I would not choose them as my everyday pair of shoes, but I believe they would be great for the garden: strong, light weight and warm.

In Zaanse Schans you will have lots, and lots… and lots of clogs to choose from. Endless variations of sizes and colors.

But I chose the ones which were already made during the workshop. They were roughly shaped, still very wet and sold by 2 euros each. An excellent price for an original gift from Holland.

I haven’t decided yet what I will use them for. I will probably paint them with oil, fill in with plastic bag and plant a small flower inside. The clogs with flowers look magic on the wall of the house.

The museum of clogs gives an idea of how they looked in the past. There are some very old examples and also very modern. What do you think about the clog with wheels? Or bride’s clogs? Or a “Fisherman Fantasy” clog? 

Or (wow) a Diamond Clog?

The Zaanse Schans is a very nice place to spend a day in. Windmills and some museums and worshops are open for a fee, but if your budget is short you can just take a walk around, look into a handmade soup shop, eat home-made waffles or a sandwich with Dutch herring (omg, it was so tasty! I want another one right now).

You can take painteresque selfies in front of the windmills or buy a small paining from a local artist. Who, by the way, speaks 18(!) languages and can accept payments by a credit card. Just outside one of the windmills. On the grass. :)

Well, what more to add… If you are in the Netherlands – make sure to visit the Zaanse Schans!

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  1. WHat an interesting post. The photo of the clogs on the outsde wall of the building make plating in clogs look like fun.

    Is the last photo home made soap?

    1. Yes, two last pictures is a handmade soup. And soup on the ropes is very interesting, as the final touch to it is made by people with different disabilities. And certain part of the money you pay for this soup goes to support these people.

  2. You made lovely pictures ,
    I am grom Holland and I agree, it is a great place to visit

  3. I'm from Holland to. You told it well :-) Love to hear that you loved your stay in Holland. The clogs: I used them when I was a scout and on summer camps I used them all day long. They keep your feet warm and dry. Our daughter used them also as scout. You can use them when working in your garden :-) There are farmers who use them still every day.

  4. My family visited Holland when I was a baby. We have a photo with everyone (my 4 older sisters, mama and daddy) in Dutch outfits. Thank you for filling in all the beautiful things I could not notice at that age. This is a lovely post.


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