Located barely 35km from where we live in south Amsterdam, it is normally a half hour drive to the town of Volendam. We loved coming here for our weekends and had many a time brought visitors here too.
What’s to like about Volendam?
For one, its the shops. Because it is such a tourist draw, there are shops selling all kinds of souvenirs. You can take photos in the traditional costumes of Holland and be a Dutch lady… They say folks here still wear them. If so, they would be a really small minority. Throughout the three years, we did not pose in the costumes…
Now you cannot miss the harbour stretch where the boats are all lined up waiting to take tourists on roundtrip cruises on the lake. In the winter as you can see from the photos, the lake can be frozen! Well, not too thick but enough for the birds to walk on them! This was taken by Suan when she brought her friends who were courageous enough to visit us during the coldest part of winter.
You know this reminds of how Suan slipped and fell on her back while running for the bus. She and the two other girls had taken the bus from Amsterdam to Volendam. Fortunately she was wearing so much that she was not hurt. It was a miracle…Mel was so worried when she phoned him and told she’s alright.
In the summer on the other hand, it would be crowded. So much that the entire harbour would be filled with folks mingling along and sitting all along benches (where available) that line the waterfront.
Ferry to Marken
You see, Marken was one of the many islands on the Zuidersee. Then in 1957, a causeway was built and connected the island to the mainland. Prior to that, ferries were indeed the only mode of transport to this tiny village of less than 2000 people?
For the longest time, Marken was a fishing village along with all the other islands and towns on and around the Zuidersee. When access to the sea was cutoff with the dykes creating the Markermeer and Ijselmeer (read here), the village transformed from fishery to tourism. You see, the locals build little mounds on which their wooden houses stand.
But it was also the uniformly green that is used as paint on the houses that unique too. It is also used for the fences. As the houses are still inhabited, we had not actually been inside one before. And like all other villages along water in Holland, they have canal waterways. For practical reasons this is to manage the water but it can also serve pleasure purposes as one can pilot a boat or kayak through it.
For a day trip, it would be best to get to Marken from Voldendam. It’s so regular it is better. We have only driven to Marken once and parking was really difficult. Getting to Volendam on the other hand is better if you drive. While it is difficult and you might need to wait, eventually you’ll get parking. However if not then the bus from Amsterdam’s Centraal station is the best option.
If you like driving along the coastal roads, read more to know what you can see by driving all around the Markermeer.