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Published: July 29th 2013
Clive attempting to steal a cheese.
Today we went on an full day organised tour of the countryside just north of Amsterdam. It will probably be the last organised tour that we take. The itinerary was wonderful and we no doubt would not have been able to see everything that we did in the one day had we not taken the tour but we felt a little like a herd of cattle on a truck. It was a big group and we were continually being rounded up by our rather stern Dutch tour guide that Clive referred to as 'Grumpy Bum'. Add to this having to spend the day with brash, loud, whining American tourists and you'll understand why have decided no more organised tours.
Grumpy tour guide and American tourists aside we still had a wonderful day. It started with a quick visit to Gassan Diamonds in Amsterdam where we saw diamonds being cut and polished and, under strict security, were shown some very nice diamonds one of which was valued at €50,000! ($72,500 Australian.) Our next stop was Volendam, a lively little fishing village where we visited a cheese factory and had lunch in a seafood restaurant. Smoked eel? Delicious! We then took a
boat to the former island of Marken. That's right, 'former'. In 1957 the Dutch built a dike that connected Marken to the mainland so it is an island no more! Marken is well known for its characteristic black wooden houses. Very, very pretty. It is also famous for its clog factory where we were treated to a clog making demonstration. For the Dutch farmer wooden clogs remain the work shoe of choice. We tried on a pair and can't say they are built for comfort! Final stop was Zaanse Schans, a picturesque windmill village with its unique green-timbered houses and warehouses. The windmills here, like most in Holland, are still very much in use. They are much, much more than just a tourist attraction.
On our return to Amsterdam at the end of the tour we decided to cram one more thing into the day and booked a ticket on an evening canal cruise. (Twilight does that to you!) The cruise took us through the UNESCO World Heritage canal district with its elegant merchants' houses dating from the Golden Age, fabulous gables, beautiful churches and iconic Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge). It was around 9.00pm when we stepped off the
cruise boat. Although it was Saturday night and the city was only just starting to wind up we went back to our hotel and collapsed into our bed. Not sure how long we can keep up this pace and cram as much as we are into a day but we intend to give it a red hot go for as long as we can!
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