The next day after breakfast and prepared for packed lunch, we took a train to Amsterdam. The tour begins at 9.30am and we had to reach there 15 minutes prior departure. I had prepared for enough coins to buy the ticket using the machine. We wanted to catch the next train which allowed us to reach Amsterdam before 9am. It took time to insert €22.2 in coins. Therefore, I told my parents to go up the stairs to Platform 1 and wait for me. After I retrieved the tickets, I could not see them at the platform. I heard my Dad calling me and noticed that they went to the wrong platform. There were more than one train to Amsterdam from different platforms, however, we had to take the next one as we missed the one we wanted to take. As we did not have many days in Netherlands, I decided to follow a tour. I booked the Amsterdam Super Saver 3: City Tour, Zaanse Schans Windmills, Volendam and Marken Day Trip through Viator (http://www.viator.com/tours/Amsterdam/Amsterdam-Super-Saver-3-City-Tour-Zaanse-Schans-Windmills-Volendam-and-Marken-Day-Trip/d525-2550LIN16). It was past 9am when we arrived at Amsterdam Central. We all had to run to the tour office to board the tour bus. It was full and we had to seat seperately. I sat at the back, facing the back of the bus. Fortunately, mine was a window seat so I could have a glimpse of the view outside.
Marken was our first stop. Marken is a peninsula in the IJsselmeer, in the Netherlands and a former island in the Zuiderzee, located in the municipality Waterland in the province North Holland. It is an island, which nowadays is connected to the North Holland mainland by a causeway. It is also a very touristic area and is famous for its unique wooden house. It was very windy when we arrived. I had to put on the hood as my face was frozen and my hair was blowing in every possible direction!
Then we visited a clog factory at Marken. Always on the rush and not able to fully watch a demonstration were few downsides of the tour. The tour group was just too big. It was common to be blocked by other tourists who were taller. Clog is a type of footwear made of wood. The lady showed us how clogs were made. It is a very stout and farmers could wear it while working. Nowadays, there are a lot of designs. We were given some time to buy sourvenirs from the shop. However, we had to pay the shop to use the public toilet.
The second stop was at Volendam, a fishing village and also a harbour. It is famous for its fising boats and traditional clothing. It was also very windy there. We only had less than an hour there. The guide suggested a few places for lunch but the time was too short. My parents sat on a bench and had lunch while I went into a few shops, mostly sourvenir shops. I could not find them after I came out so I looked for them but in the end, I wandered around by myself. I met them up when it was time to gather. I was quite pissed at that time for them going off not telling me. It was a short trip to Volendam and I can’t say I had seen everything in the fising village as we only walked along the main street by the harbour. It was also cold and I did not really feel like I truly experience the culture of Volendam. It was more like sightseeing.
ZAANSE SCHANS WINDMILLS
After that, we went to Zaanse Schans, a well-known windmill village. Alissa and I came here too the last time. It is a very beautiful place and the scenery was breathtaking. However, the weather in winter, together with the wind, made is less enjoyable to be there. We were brought to a cheese farm. My parents and I were at the last of the group and missed the presentation part. We lost the group while busy taking photos. We managed to find where they were and joined the group but it was so crowded by the cheese factory that it was impossible to see what they lady wanted to show us. We also tried many different types of cheese, made of goat milk, cow milk, with pepper…etc. I was tempted to buy but thinking of the heavy luggage I still had in England, I changed my mind. We had some free time to walk around the village and take photos before leaving.
AMSTERDAM CITY TOUR
We reached back Amsterdam past 2pm. We had to board another bus for the Amsterdam City Tour. It was just a bus tour around the city. Whenever we passed by a tourist attraction, the tour guide would explain. She was a fantastic guide and amazingly, she could speak fluent Dutch, English, German and Spanish! It was a pity not to have the chance to go into the churces. We stopped once to take photos at a windmill. The last stop was to the diamond factory. It was interesting to understand how diamonds are made, types of diamond and different cuts, clarity…etc! Of course we could not afford to buy any expensive diamonds, next time or maybe next life! By the time the tour ended, it was past 5pm. We walked around Damrak Square before heading back to Haarlem.
I was so hungry when we reached home. Aunty Ai Lian cooked a very delicious Chinese meal! I felt like the food was way too much for a serving for four but we finished EVERYTHING! I explained to my parents earlier that when Alissa and I stayed with her the last time, she always prepared nice food and we were so happy as we did not have Chinese food often in Switzerland. This time she cooked roast duck again! It was just yummie!!! My stomach was so bloated after that!
I went online after dinner as I had to book for flight and train tickets. Her son printed the tickets for us and offered to send us to the airport the next morning!!! I wished we could stay longer but I did not plan anything else and would rather stay longer in Switzerland with my host family so we left on the 29th December. I would love to come back again! Maybe next time I will visit other cities like Hague or even go to Belgium!