The history of Amsterdam the city of canals dates back to 12th century when it was a quaint fishing village. The city thrived to become one of the flourishing ports by the 17th century. And today Amsterdam is a bustling metropolitan enticing tourist and travelers with its maze of canals. But one can still experience the historic charm of Amsterdam just around 30 minutes bus ride away from the downtown Amsterdam. Waterland is a group of picturesque fishing villages which have a well-preserved rustic charm of the bygone era.
The information we gathered on the internet said that we could take a bus from Amsterdam central to the villages of Waterland. We visited the information kiosk in Amsterdam central and the lady handed us a comprehensive map with details of routes and connecting bus services for various Waterland destinations. They even offer a day pass for 10 Euros which is valid through the day.
We boarded the earliest bus available which headed to Marken. The cityscape soon gave way to the beautiful Dutch countryside. The vistas made of stretches of lush green meadows dotted with grazing cows and tiny canals with ducks kept our gaze fixed on the window.
Our bus halted at a dead-end surrounded by fenced verdant farms. The bus driver pointed towards a paved path to the left and asked to follow the path. Marken was once an island and is now connected to the mainland. Soon the path opened up into a large meadow cut through by tiny canals with ducks swimming in it.
We clicked some pictures and moved further to be bewitched by the breathtaking landscape. The green carpet of the meadow was peppered with dry leaves fallen off the trees painted in bright and vivid hues of fall. A small wooden table with bench in the midst of the enchanting tranquil aura of the landscape made for a perfect romantic setting. The playful ducks waddled around the table and jumped into the water one by one.
A cluster of brightly colored characteristic wooden cottages stood on the other side of the canal connected by an arch wooden bridge. The area looked desolate nor could we hear any kind of sound. We sauntered through the calm and peaceful cramped alleys running between the cottages.
Every house had a backyard garden adorned with colorful flowers and a furry cat curled up into a ball. When we passed by the garden they would lift their head and meow at us. I had a chance to cuddle a couple of them too.
We were even surprised to find the narrow alleys and the choc-a-block cottages opening up into a small square dominated by an imposing church in the small village of Marken.
The old rusted bell hung at the gates, the spider web, the rickety letter box, and the unkempt garden exemplified the slow pace of life in the countryside of Amsterdam. A timewarp far from the hustle bustle of city life we wished never ended.
Our enthralling saunter down the winding alleys and the quaint cottages ended at the tiny port of Marken. We could now sight some human presence too. Fishermen cleaning their boats and sorting their nets. An old couple reading book and having tea on their veranda and a couple of more tourists.
A restaurant with outdoor seatings along the port made for an awesome location to soothe our hunger pangs. A group of yachts and sailboats were moored at the harbor.
A souvenir shop sold wooden shoes and wooden carved tulips. The wooden shoes which make for one of the best souvenirs are still worn by the farmers and fishermen in the villages of Waterland.
There was still time for the ferry to the next village of Volendam so we sat down in the backyard of one of the houses watching some adorable sheep grazing in the fenced meadow. A beautiful swan preened as it swam past us swiftly unruffled by our presence.
We waited near the port taking in the serenity till our trance was broken by the honking of the arriving ferry to Volendam. The journey from Marken to the village of Volendam took us around half an hour.
Volendam is much touristy and commercialized when compared to Marken. Though the setting remained the same with brightly colored cottages. The canals and ducks swimming around were missing. The promenade along the lake was bustling with shops and cafes. There was a cheese workshop wherein one can understand the cheese processing along with some local cheese tasting. It looked much similar to the one we did in Zaanse Schans so we gave it a skip and just wandered around.
It was the Halloween week so we could see the restaurants and shops along the streets were decorated in Halloween theme.
There were a couple of statues of the fisherman and fisherwoman clad in traditional costume along the promenade.
We soon came to the other end of the village which connected to the main street from where one can take a bus to Edam village or back to Amsterdam central. This impressive garden adorned the frontyard of one of the houses along the main street.
Edam is another fishing village in Waterland and is home to one of the most famous cheeses in the world. One can also attend the popular cheese market if visiting in Summer. Also worth a visit is the Edam oldest house for an authentic dutch experience dating back to as old as 16th century.
There are several other fishing villages in and around Waterland which lure travelers with their postcard-perfect Dutch villages and charming countryside. The villages have well-connected transportation which makes for an easy day trip.
Have you been to any of these fishing villages of Netherland? Do share with us in comments.
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