My European Favourites – Day Trip From Amsterdam
The Netherlands is a great place to visit either as a main destination or as a stopover for a couple of days. I have always enjoyed flying KLM and use them often for our many groups travelling throughout Europe. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is an east hub to fly into from North America, and I like the airport layout over other big and busy European airports.
Amsterdam itself has many interesting places to visit and explore. The city is full of history, great architecture, canals, bridges, museums, great shopping, cyclists, interesting cafes, the Anne Frank House, the Heineken Brewery, and yes, the notorious red light district. Not many people venture outside the city during a stopover, but one of our favourite day trips is from Amsterdam. We always try to do it on a Wednesday, so we catch the Edam cheese market show.
Our twenty minute early morning trip to Zaandam starts after a good breakfast at our centrally located hotel in Amsterdam. On the way, you can enjoy the beautiful Dutch countryside including dikes and plots of land reclaimed from the water, called polders. Starting in the late 16th century, the Zaandam and the Zaan river area were important wood milling regions during the “Dutch Golden Age” with thousands of saw windmills. In the 19th century, the area became a leader of the “Industrial Age” in the Netherlands.
Starting in 1961, the Zaanse Schans was turned into an open air museum with windmills and buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Various wooden houses, barns, shops, warehouses and windmills were transported here starting in 1961. The buildings along with traditional farmsteads, paths, ditches and fields depict how village life was like during that prosperous time.
When we arrive at the Zaanse Schans parking lot, you will undoubtably smell chocolate from the nearby cacao processing factories. Entrance to the Zaansee Schans is free, but some of the workshops and windmills located throughout the grounds are museums and require an entrance fee. You can purchase a ticket to have access to all the museums.
One of the first buildings you will see on arrival is the Kooijman Souvenirs & Clogs Wooden Shoe Workshop. Here you can see a wooden clog machine demonstration. Afterwards, wander throughout the site checking out the bakery, fisherman’s house, weavers house, clock house, merchant house, cheese house, pewter house, pancake house and see how vats and barrels are made at the cooperage. With a little breeze, you can see the sails of the windmills slowly turning while the inner workings churn away. The windmills saw wood or mill oil, flower, spices or pigments to dye cloth. Some windmills allow visitors to climb up to the deck via narrow stairs for a nice view of the river and the area.
The Zaans Museum, located by the parking area, opened in 1998, and contains clothing and artifacts from the area. At its Verkade Experience you can see original chocolate and biscuit factory machines from the early 20th century at work. The museum also has a café and shop.
Another short 20 minute drive, and we reach Edam, which is famous for its cheese market that started in1520. Edam cheese is round with a flattened top and bottom and is coated with a red paraffin wax which allowed it to age well and not spoil on long voyages. Its unique taste plus the lack of spoilage made it extremely attractive for exporting throughout the world. The market was closed in 1922 when cheese began to be made in factories rather than by local farms.
At the original market, farmers would bring their cheese using horse drawn cart or by boat. Once they arrived, the cheese carriers, who wore different colored hats depending on which cheese guild they belonged to, would load the product onto wooden barrows. Once the barrow was loaded, the carriers placed carry straps over their shoulders and walked the precious cargo to the cheese tasters. The tasters would drill a core sample from the cheese and based on the exterior wax, smell, taste and other factors began to bargain the price with the seller using a series of shouts and hand claps. When the price was settled the cheese was taken to the weighing house to determine the final amount to be paid.
Every Wednesday in the summer from 10:30 to 12:30, the town re-enacts the hustle, and bustle of the market at the Jan van Nieuwenhuizen Square. The colorful market includes many family members, including children, wearing traditional costumes, dresses and clogs plus kiosks selling cheese. Throughout the performance, horse carts and boats arrive, cheese carriers scurry at a comical pace and bargain shouts and hand slaps can be heard. So visitors understand everything that is happening, there is a person on a microphone explaining the entire process. It’s quite interesting and fun to witness.
Next, we will travel from Edam to the seaside fishing village of Volendam to visit a local smokehouse that was founded in 1856. Smoked eels at one time were an important staple food in the Netherlands but recently a drop in the eel population and the resulting price increase has made it a delicacy. Today, the 5th and 6th generations of the Smits’ family keep their family’s secret fish smoking process and traditions alive. The smoked eel is their specialty and during the eel fishing season the entire family is involved in the cutting, gouging, skinning, digging and filleting of the eels. The Paviljoen Smit-Bokkum offers private tours of the smokehouse to introduce people to the traditional eel fishing, processing and smoking activities. In addition to eel, they smoke salmon, dorado and sea bass using pine wood. The eel is delicious and at their restaurant you can try various local dishes. The location also has a shop and a small Palingsound (eel sound) Museum dedicated to Volendam’s unique and famous pop music.
Volendam, once a simple catholic fishing village, is now Holland’s best-known seaside town and is visited by millions annually. The Volendam Catholic fishermen had their own typical costumes and dialect. The town’s boardwalk, once home to fishermen’s wooden shacks, is now adorned with colorful wooden houses, tourist shops, cafes and restaurants. As you walk through the town and its shops, you will see locals wearing the traditional clothing. If you explore the village’s narrow lanes in the old neighborhoods, you can still see some of the old fishermens’ houses.
There used to be hundreds of vessels at one time when Volendam’s fishing fleet had access to the North Sea, but after closing its access, the harbour contains only a few fishing vessels doing fresh water fishing on Markermeer lake. Nowadays, leisure boats and the ferries that go to the nearby island of Marken occupy the majority of the harbour space.
Some restaurants offer tasty local seafood dishes and cool drinks on patios overlooking the harbour. For a quick lunch, food stands and take away restaurants sell kibbeling (battered and fried fish nuggets), herring, shrimp and of course smoked eel.
A visit to the Volendams Museum provides an interesting look into the town’s history, costumes, traditions and art. If you have time, you may consider taking the Volendam Marken Express boat to Marken.
On the way back to Amsterdam, and a short distance from Volendam, we will stop at the Henri Willig Jacob’s Hoeve cheese farm. The staff wear traditional clothing, and they give a short introduction and demonstration of the cheese making process. The number of cow goat and sheep cheese varieties is quite overwhelming but very interesting to sample. Some flavours you might encounter include truffle, cumin, pesto, red chili pepper, coconut, pepper, rosemary and garlic. They are all for sale in various sizes along with other Dutch souvenirs and foods. You can also see the cows in their new stable especially designed for the organic farm’s herd of Jerseys.
It is only twenty minutes back to Amsterdam and as you enjoy the countryside you can decide on what great restaurant you will go to tonight. I think an authentic Indonesian “rijsttafel” or rice table would be a great way to end the day. The rice table was brought back to the Netherlands from the Dutch East Indies where it was created by the Dutch as a festive way to showcase their colony’s diverse and multi-ethnic Indonesian cuisine. The rice is accompanied by a multitude of small meat, vegetarian and condiment dishes that may include spring rolls, satay meat skewers, curries, fish, boiled eggs, spicy sauces, peanut sauces, vegetables, and fried bananas. It is great for sampling different tastes and for sharing. You can find Indonesian fast food and restaurants throughout Amsterdam, but a place like Tujuh Maret or Ron Gastrobar Indonesia offering a rice table is definitely something you should experience.
Explore Europe With Us
Azorcan Global Sport, School and Sightseeing Tours have taken thousands to Europe on their custom group tours since 1994. Visit azorcan.net to see all our custom tour possibilities for your group of 26 or more. Individuals can join our “open” signature sport, sightseeing and sport fan tours including our popular Canada hockey fan tours to the World Juniors. At azorcan.net/media you can read our newsletters and listen to our podcasts.
Images compliments of Paul Almeida and Azorcan Tours. This article was original published in March 2021.
Allow unvaccinated Canadians to cross U.S. border, Poilievre asks President Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden shakes hands with Conservative Party of Canada Leader Pierre Poilievre, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on, during a welcoming ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Friday, March 24, 2023. Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says allowing Canadians who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 to cross into the United States was among issues he raised with President Joe Biden. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
By Stephanie Taylor in Ottawa
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Friday he asked President Joe Biden to remove the U.S. government’s requirement that Canadians be vaccinated for COVID-19 before crossing the border.
He told reporters after their meeting that American citizens are no longer required to have their shots and Canada allows unvaccinated Americans to visit.
“There are millions of good, decent, honourable people who, through a personal medical decision, are discriminated against at the border,” Poilievre said.
“I encouraged the president to lift those restrictions to allow them freedom of mobility.”
Poilievre won the leadership of his party a little more than six months ago by mounting a vocal opposition to COVID-19 health restrictions, including mask and vaccine mandates, but he has since focused his message on cost-of-living issues.
He met with Biden on Parliament Hill Friday during the president’s 27-hour visit to the Canadian capital, and later shared a photo of the two online.
Michael Ignatieff was the last Opposition leader to have face time with a U.S president. The former Liberal leader met with former President Barack Obama in 2009. It happened at the airport.
Poilievre said Friday he found Biden wants to be a “friendly” and “decent” neighbour to Canada, and on a personal level, he said he told the president they share Irish heritage.
He said they discussed the need for Canada to bolster its defence systems and “bring fairness” to workers by seeing the U.S. exempt Canada from its Buy American policies.
The Tory leader also said he expressed a need for Biden to axe tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber, arguing that the long-standing dispute saw a brief reprieve under Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.
“I don’t believe that Prime Minister (Justin) Trudeau has pushed and fought on behalf of Canadians,” he said.
Before the meeting, Poilievre had shared some unscripted moments with the leader of the free world.
As he stood in a receiving line of Canadian politicians from all parties who were greeting Biden upon his arrival at Parliament Hill, Poilievre introduced himself as the “Leader of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.”
That prompted Biden to question, still shaking Poilievre’s hand: “Loyal opposition?”
Poilievre assured him that yes, “we believe that opposition is an act of loyalty in our system.”
Biden chuckled, patting Poilievre on the arm.
“We do, too, unfortunately,” he said, chuckling.
Later, while addressing the House of Commons, Biden noted that both he and Trudeau appointed cabinets that were half women, making them the first in their respective countries to do so.
Many in the chamber broke out in applause.
Biden noticed that Poilievre and the Opposition Conservatives were not quick to rise, and quipped: “Even if you don’t agree, guys, I’d stand up,” which Poilievre and others then did.
Asked afterwards about that interaction, Poilievre said only: “We support gender equality for all Canadians.”
Poilievre was on the guestlist for a dinner with Biden Friday evening, along with other government ministers, officials and celebrities.
The invitation process came with a dash of partisanship.
Earlier in the day, staff in Poilievre’s office were left scratching their heads when they said it had not received an invite from Trudeau’s office to attend, and asserted that any suggestion he had refused the invitation was false.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed it had sent Poilievre notice of the dinner — but the invitation went to a personal email account that notifies senders it is not monitored.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2023.
Alberta’s environmental leaders recognized
The Alberta Emerald Foundation (AEF) announced the shortlist for the 32nd Annual Emerald Awards this week. Since 1992, the Emerald Awards have showcased over 350 recipients and 850 finalists who are raising the bar in addressing environmental and climate change issues. These environmental awards celebrate excellence across all sectors, making them unique not only in Alberta but also in Canada.
This year’s shortlist was chosen by a third-party panel of volunteer judges, each bringing expertise from numerous sectors across Alberta. Judges selected the shortlist, consisting of 39 organizations, projects, and individuals from across the province, from 51 nominations. During their deliberations, the judges also determined who from the shortlist will take home an Emerald Award in each of the 15 award categories.
“Those represented in this year’s shortlist demonstrate the incredible dedication that Albertans have toward protecting our environment and taking action against climate change” says The AEF’s Executive Director, Marisa Orfei, “The diversity in the shortlist is also astounding, there’s small grassroots organizations, large corporations, and everything in between. We’re also incredibly proud to have 17 communities across Alberta represented in this year’s shortlist, including Drayton Valley, Grande Cache, Canmore, and many more.”
Here are the organizations, projects, and individuals recognized in The 32nd Annual Emerald Award shortlist:
Air Category – Recognizing projects and initiatives that improve air quality.
- Blindman Brewing First-in-Canada CO2 Capture and Utilization (Lacombe, AB)
Business Category – Showcasing an organization engaged in commercial, industrial or professional activities that have demonstrated a meaningful commitment to an environmentally sustainable future.
- Reimagine Architects – 26 Years Building Sustainable Futures (Edmonton, AB)
- Eco-Flex Recycled Rubber Solutions (Legal, AB)
- Envirotech Geothermal – Alberta’s smartest way to Net Zero! (Sherwood Park, AB)
Community Group or Nonprofit Category – Recognizing associations dedicated to furthering a particular social cause or advocating for a shared point of view that has demonstrated a significant commitment to the environment through their actions.
- Alberta Bike Swap – supporting the circular economy before it was cool (Calgary, AB)
- Project Forest: Rewilding Canada, One Forest at a time (Edmonton, AB)
- Alberta businesses are building a better Business-as-usual with Green Economy Canada (Edmonton, AB & Calgary, AB)
Education Category – Acknowledging those that have raised the bar by showing leadership and creativity in educating students of all ages about environmental matters.
- Eagle Point-Blue Rapids Parks Council Environmental & Outdoor Education Program (Drayton Valley, AB)
- Future Energy Systems: Exploring Our Energy Future With The Community, Our Students, And More (Edmonton, AB)
- Evergreen Theatre: A 32-Year Legacy of Inspiring Environmental Awareness & Action Through the Arts (Calgary, AB)
Energy Category – Recognizing projects and initiatives that positively support the evolution of our province’s energy systems.
- Calgary’s Residential Solar Calculator (Calgary, AB)
- Bow Valley Green Energy Cooperative, empowering community to transform Alberta’s energy (Canmore, AB)
- Metis Nation of Alberta Climate Change Action Plan (Edmonton, AB)
Government Category – Recognizing all levels of government whose ongoing commitment sets the example of environmental leadership and advocates sustainability as a major consideration in governance.
- Environmental Achievements of the City of St. Albert (St. Albert, AB)
- Violet Grove’s Constructed Floating Wetlands System with Aeration (Drayton Valley, AB)
- Nose Creek Watershed Partnership – Celebrating 25-Years of Watershed Planning, Policy and Action (Mossleigh, AB)
Infrastructure Category – Recognizing environmental advancements in the ways we design, build, and travel.
- Solar Aquatic Systems Wastewater Treatment (Drayton Valley, AB)
- SSRIA: Transforming the AEC Industry Towards a Net Zero Built Environment (Edmonton, AB)
- Ecoplast Solutions: Building Houses from Recycled Plastic Bottles (Lloydminster, AB)
Land Category – Recognizing projects and initiatives that demonstrate excellence in sustainable land use.
- The City of Calgary’s Willow Plantation for Marginal Land Improvement and Carbon Capture (Calgary, AB)
- Ledcor Highway Maintenance Yard Upgrades (Edmonton, AB)
Lifetime Achievement Award – Celebrating environmental leaders who, throughout their lifetime, have made contributions of outstanding environmental significance.
- Dirk and Nanja of The Barrelman Inc.: 25 years of protecting land and water through local action that inspires (Calgary, AB)
Public Engagement & Outreach Category – Recognizing programs and initiatives that educate and empower the broader public by teaching the necessary skills to make informed environmental decisions and take responsible action.
- GreenLearning’s Eco 360 program: Transitioning to a circular economy for plastic waste! (Drayton Valley, AB)
- My Green Closet: Sustainable Lifestyle and Slow Fashion Platform (Edmonton, AB)
- Calgary Climate Symposium: How The City of Calgary Engages and Educates Albertans on Climate Change (Calgary, AB)
Shared Footprints Award – Recognizing those who have exemplified land and water stewardship, built shared knowledge, improved air quality, reduced land disturbances, and encouraged ecotourism.
- Edmonton River Valley Conservation Coalition: Working Together to Protect the North Saskatchewan River Valley (Edmonton, AB)
- Highfield Regenerative Farm (Calgary, AB) Waste Management Category – Recognizing projects and initiatives that innovate the repurposing, reduction, and disposal of waste in an environmentally-conscious way. Earth Warrior (Edmonton, AB)
- Revolutionizing Recycling with [Re] Waste: Transforming Waste Management for a Sustainable Future (Edmonton, AB)
- Microgreens Club – A Zero Waste Initiative (Calgary, AB)
Water Category – Recognizing projects and initiatives that demonstrate excellence through the monitoring, management and/or stewardship of water and watersheds.
- Forest industry collaboration cultivates sustainability around vital wetland ecosystems (Edmonton, AB)
- LakeKeepers: Community-Based Monitoring of Alberta’s Lakes (Edmonton, AB)
- Safe water and water sustainability in Alberta (Calgary, AB)
Wildlife & Biodiversity Category – Recognizing projects and initiatives that protect and conserve natural habitats and wild species.
- Aseniwuche Winewak Nation’s Caribou Patrol Program: 11 years of saving Alberta’s caribou (Grande Cache, AB)
- Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society – Sikome Beaver Coexistence Project. (Calgary, AB)
- The Edmonton Urban Coyote Project: Collaborative Research and Education for Coexistence with Wildlife (Edmonton, AB)
Youth Category – Recognizing people, 25 years of age and under, who have made meaningful contributions and have taken positive action to improve the environmental health of their community.
- Monica Figueroa: Edmonton youth climate activist (Edmonton, AB)
- Strathmore High School Community Greenhouse (Strathmore, AB)
- Energy & Environmental Sustainability Projects in Action at New Myrnam School (Myrnam, AB)
The recipients in each category will be named at the 32nd Annual Emerald Awards ceremony on June 7, 2023, at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta. Emerald Award Recipients receive:
- A $2,000 grant to support their work or to donate to an environmental charity of their choice
- A profile of their work through The AEF’s Sharing Stories program, which includes the Emerald Documentary Series, What On EARTH Can We Do? podcast, and Emerald Speakers Series
- A certificate and Emerald Awards recipient digital logo to commemorate their achievement
The Awards will also be live-streamed through the AEF”s YouTube Chanel to allow people from across the province to attend. Tickets for the 32nd Annual Emerald Awards ceremony can be purchased here.
The Alberta Emerald Foundation (AEF) is a registered Canadian charity with the unique mission to tell Alberta’s environmental good news stories to uplift, educate, and inspire our province toward meeting environmental and climate change goals.
Research suggests that when we learn about what real environmental and climate change solutions look like and how they’re being implemented in our communities, it increases our ability and desire to take action in our own lives. By providing real-life examples of these solutions through our various storytelling programs, the AEF helps Albertans take the next step toward environmental protection and climate action. With every person that we reach through our programming, we’re helping Alberta reach its broader environmental and climate change goals.
Click to learn more about the Alberta Emerald Foundation.
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