The Village of Volendam
Volendam seems, from anecdotes I heard while talking to Dutch friends in Amsterdam, sort of like the Netherlands’ version of the South. Lots of stereotypes about inbreeding, hillbilly sensibilities, and just general backwardness. The butt of the national joke, if you will. (There’s even a degenerative brain disease named after the place!)
Given how much time I spent in the little town of Volendam while I was in the Netherlands, though, I’d have to politely disagree.
Set on the southwest side of the Dutch-designed Zuider Zee, the village of Volendam is fronted by a High Street full of cheese factories and tourist restaurants. Beyond this main street, though, is where the real beauty of the village lies.
In the winding backstreets of Volendam, the front doors of houses open onto small alleys leading to narrow canals crossed by cantilever bridges.
Bikes sit in front of most houses, but with a center so compact it is at times hard to imagine what in Volendam is far enough away to necessitate riding at all.
During my last visit to Volendam, dark clouds gathered over the town in reflection of my moody temperament that afternoon. I resolved to abandon the last little bit of the day’s tour in order to check out a tip the guide had given me when we landed in Volendam on the boat from the village of Marken.
Leaving the village to the north along the shores of the Zuider Zee, the view back towards town is all bucolic beauty and quaint county life. It seems as if cowbells should be tinkling off in the distance (as indeed I would soon find to be the case).
Of a sudden, a certain feeling of peace fell upon me as I left the storm clouds behind for blue skies ahead. Walking along this quiet path beside the Sea, it was hard to see how the Dutch stereotypes about Volendam could be so negative. I, for one, thought it a place both picturesque and peaceful.
Like most of what I did in the rural areas around Amsterdam, I visited Volendam (as well as the city of Marken just across the Zuider Zee) on part of several bus tours while I was taking photos for GetYourGuide. To visit on your own, though, just catch a bus from the back of Amsterdam’s Centraal Station. If you’d be more comfortable going on a group tour, though, check out GetYouGuide’s Amsterdam Half-Day Countryside Tour.