Day 268: Alkmaar

I don’t know what I liked more, the road trip with my girlfriends filling every seat of my mini-van, or the actual visit to Alkmaar wandering with friends. I think I liked both! Too bad I didn’t get a picture.

We went to see the cheese market and walk around the quaint city, wandering from store to store and street to street, eventually stopping for lunch before heading back to pick up the kids from school. Thousands of visitors from all over the world visit to see the cheese market filled with cheese and hauling cheese carriers. The cheese market has taken place on the Waagplein in Alkmaar since 1593.

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It was very crowded and cold today. We watched a bit of the market happenings, but it was difficult for all 10 of us to see together. We strolled through the Oud Stad part of town and down a side street at lead us to a lunch place that we all enjoyed, called Eets Palais.

After lunch we walked through and around the rest of the city before heading back. There was a lot to see and we all talked about wanting to come back again to Alkmaar. Alkmaar is a quaint town, that is easy to stroll and doesn’t feel overly touristy. There are big churches, several museums, outdoor shopping streets with cute boutiques, canals, and plenty of places to sit outside with a drink and some food. Hopefully next time it will be warmer.

One of the beauties of spring time in Holland is the longer hours of light. We are still waiting for the warmth to come, but for now its still heavy coats. The good news is It’s 9:30 pm and its still light out. Juliana and I went for a brisk, cold and quick walk before dinner and enjoyed the colors of spring. Here are some of the beauties we saw.

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Hope you have a great weekend!
Love, Adriana

Day 255: Zaans Schaans and Alkmaar

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I like coming home from vacation with still an extra day or two of vacation time left before we have to get back into our routine again. I love having a routine and then shaking it up and recreating it again. We came back from Dubai on Thursday and still have another day to play before Monday returns.

Today we enjoyed a lazy morning. Juliana and I got out our Smash books and started organizing all of our postcards and receipts and entrance tickets and bus tickets etc to smash into our scrapbooks. The boys soon joined us and we spent several hours gluing and writing and remembering where we’ve been so far. It’ll be interesting to compare our books to see what made an impression on each of us and how we chose to represent and document our journey. I opened up my blog pages to recall the details and order of events. Looking at all the posts made me really happy that I’ve taken the time to write a written log each night, otherwise there is no way I’d remember it all. We sure have been busy!

After sitting for a long while and doing several loads of laundry, we ventured out to see something new. We went to Zaans Schaans, an old, Dutch, 18th century working village. The highlights were the working windmills we got to go inside and the wooden clog factory.

We wandered through the museum and learned about the 100+ year old bisquit baking and chocolate factory, Verkade. This company was very successful and one of the first companies to successfully create and market their brand name. They had art contests and created collector cards and albums that people could collect and create. They also used tins with the company name on them, that people would collect and reuse.

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Outside, we walked through the cheese factory,

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pigment windmill,

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spice windmill, and baking museum.

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We also watched wooden shoes being made and played outside with old fashioned toys like stilts.

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The museum closed at 5 pm, so we decided to venture into a nearby town called Alkmaar.

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I love the quaint feel of the small Dutch villages with locals out and about, enjoying each other. The shops were all closed by the time we arrived, and the weather started to become very cold as the sun went down and the wind came up. The cold is now officially old! It was hard for us to even want to go out today, but I didn’t think it would be fun staying inside with stir crazy kids either! We were going to go for a bike ride but were afraid we’d freeze.

We walked through the streets and past old churches. There must have been a farmers market today as vendors were cleaning up and taking down their stalls by the time we arrived.

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We found an Indonesian place called Cafe Bali for dinner. The food was delicious and the service great too. My favorite dish was the sayur lodeh. It tasted like the one my Opa used to make when I was a little girl. I am part Indonesian, part Dutch and part Italian. Did you know that? 🙂

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At dinner, Charlie was so cute. He said, lets play the I love You game. You have to swirl your finger around and point to someone and then say what you love about that person. It was very heartwarming to hear all the nice things we had to say about one another. I felt proud that everyone actually likes each other. I knew that and see that every day, but it was nice to hear. And to keep it real and funny, afterwards he said, “lets play the what I don’t like about you game!” That little rascal! He is so funny, and we all cracked up. Luckily nothing was said. Phew! Keep focusing on the positive and hopefully that’s what we’ll keep creating, right?

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I hope you’re having a good weekend!
Love, Adriana