It was a warm, sunny autumn day when I decided that I must revisit the little villages that charmed me and made me fall in love with this country on my first trip to the Netherlands: Volendam and Marken. I have a weakness especially for Marken, with its green wooden houses and lovely quiet streets. Both of them are fishing villages, well known in the touristic circuit and, unfortunately, much too crowded on a sunny day. The real experience can be had in a day outside the tourist season, but it’s worth it even when crowded to take a day trip outside Amsterdam and admire the Dutch beauty. There are many organized tours in the area, with guides and all details covered, most of them on the circuit Edam – Volendam – Marken. It’s more fun though and quite easy to go there on your own, by bicycle or by bus; a one day bus ticket for the Waterland is 9 euros and it’s all that’s needed (except for the ferry transfer).
Volendam impresses with its coquettish wooden houses and charming streets, the windmill, and the main attraction — it’s harbour with a lot of eye-catching boats. In Volendam one can see people still wearing the traditional Dutch costume (which, by the way, is the one that can be seen on most of the Dutch postcards — the black one, with a high, pointed bonnet — and although for many people representing the Dutch costume, not the only one). There are even some photo shops where people can take a picture dressed in the traditional clothes. There’s also a museum where one can learn more about the history and culture of this village and the neighbouring area. A nice place where I like to go is the street which leads from the harbour along the seaside: it is dotted with benches, ideal to sit and relax watching the water, the boats and the seagulls.
After half of day spent in Volendam, the best thing to do is take a ferry and cross the water to Marken. The trip through the lake is really nice! Marken itself was initially an island but now it is connected to the mainland by a causeway. It’s a very picturesque village, where every house is surrounded by a lovely garden decorated with all kinds of flowers and garden decorations, as if it was taking part in a contest between the neighbours. Many of the wooden houses are listed as National Heritage Sites. The atmosphere is a peaceful one, only childrens’ voices can be heard, and right outside the village the countryside landscape commences, complete with sheep and cows and green grass. A big attraction in Marken is the lighthouse (Paard van Marken), and also the clog factory, where the traditional sculpting of wooden clogs can be seen live.
A good day spent in the Waterland can turn into a great one if it ends with a pannenkoek and a drink at a harbour terrace, watching one of the most beautiful sunsets that can be seen.