A Voyage to Volendam in The Netherlands
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My adventures with Viking River Cruises continue with an excursion to Volendam which included a visit to Edam for a walk around this quaint village and of course cheese tasting; followed by early afternoon in Marken, an idyllic seaside escape; and finally back to Volendam for a more immersive experience in this historic port town on the shores of the Markermeer Sea—25-minutes from Amsterdam. It was just after lunch when our "Viking Odin" longship docked in the heart of this quintessential seaside village and soon thereafter, we were whisked off on the aforementioned tours. We departed Marken via the local ferry Marken Express that cruised across the Markermeer Sea en-route to Volendam to spend the rest of the day exploring. Join me as we tour the charming port of Volendam, The Netherlands.
Here's a quick video welcome to Volendam. I apologize for the wind but the sights are glorious nonetheless.
Renowned for its cheese, fishing boats and traditional Dutch clothing still donned by some of its residents, Volendam is every bit as quaint and charming as Marken but also rich in heritage and traditions mostly dating back to the 17th century when it thrived as a major shipping port on the coast of Zuiderzee or South Sea. With the advent of the Afsluitdijk, the major dam cutting off the North Sea in 1932, Volendam's prosperous fishing and shipping industries faded away. Today, Volendam is home to 22,000 residents and the community derives most of its income from fresh-water fishing, cheese and tourism.
|The coastal village of Volendam in the Netherlands as seen from the Marken Express that ferried us from Marken across the Markermeer Sea. It was a most frigid voyage on the top deck but a thrill nonetheless.|
|Welcome to the Volendam dike lined with vibrant architecture that is uniquely Dutch!|
I couldn’t help but fall in love with this little harbor town as soon as we approached from the Markermeer. While fishing vessels and sail boats line the port of Volendam, not to mention my own Viking Odin longship, it was the sight upon the dike that captivated my attention. Charming narrow streets lined with quaint Dutch architecture, much of it preserved for more than five centuries. Below its gabled rooftops were the most charming cafés, historic inns, shops and more—all conveying the true character of this port town of Volendam! I just couldn't wait to get up there and start exploring the village.
|Quaint cafes and shops line the streets at the top of the dike in Volendam.|
Upon disembarking after our frigid voyage aboard the Marken Express, it was a relief to be greeted by slightly warmer climes and an unexpected surprise—traditionally clad Dutch women proffering herring with pickles and onions to all of us as we got off the boat. At first I was going to pass on it, but thought the better of it. After all, it's not every day I am in Volendam so as they say, "when in Rome ," I indulged and surprisingly went back for seconds!
|Fresh herring anyone?|
After our little snack, we reached the top of the dike and walked along the streets for a richer experience in the culture of Volendam. One of the places I stumbled upon that deserves an honorable mention because of its fascinating history is the Hotel Spaander.
|The Hotel Spaander in Volendam. Don't miss this historic and charming inn when you visit. More importantly, discover its fascinating history in the arts!|
Renowned for its cultural and iconic status among the artist community at the turn of the 20th century, the Hotel Spaander is an historic treasure steeped in maritime history when Volendam still enjoyed its prospering fishing trade. Opening in 1881, the Hotel Spaander is named after its founder Leendert Spaander (1855-1955), and is a quaint inn that started out as a café and soon expanded to a bar and hotel with 44 guest rooms. It's much larger now.
|Sea-view rooms overlook the Markermeer Sea at the rear of the Hotel Spaander.|
|Well-appointed rooms rich in woods and warm tones decorate the highly ornate interiors of the Hotel Spaander.|
But what put the Hotel Spaander on the map and why it deserves special commendation is the fact that it was a major draw for foreign artists who converged here to visit L. Spaander and the scenic Dutch countryside. In exchange for their room and board at the inn, the artists contributed drawings, etchings and paintings that soon grew into quite a substantial collection for Spaander. Upon seeing this, he started to encourage new arrivals to contribute pieces of their own. Today, the Hotel Spaander's art collection is comprised of more than 1,200 pieces of artwork, most of which still decorate the walls throughout the inn. Among its resident artists were Van Gogh and Monet. Imagine what it must have been like to frequent such an establishment bursting with creative genius. What I wouldn't give to return to the day! More so, this visit would serve as fodder for my ArtSmart Roundtable features which I publish at the beginning of each month with my circle of art and travel bloggers.
|The Hotel Spaander's art collection adorns the rich interiors of the Hotel Spaander. Many of these were used as payment by the artists for room and board.|
|Upon discovering the Hotel Spaander's unique artistic history, I discovered this "artist in residence" restoring one of the hotel's 1,200 pieces of art.|
|One of my new Viking friends Merrit and I standing outside the Hotel Spaandar.|
Back on the street, it was time to amble down the other side of the dike to the city center which by the way, lies five meters below the dike. For it is down here that I ventured into a local cheese shop with colleague Mattie John Bamman for a very cheesy moment. A family, actually fourth-generation owners, invited us to sample a few varieties of their cheese…and yes, every bite was as savory and delicious as you could imagine. After we bid our farewells, it was a quick walk around the town to find more quaint architecture and most importantly, the church whose steeple caught my eye upon our arrival in the port.
|Picturesque scenes like this lie waiting around every corner in the charming coastal town of Volendam!|
|Quaint narrow streets lined with quintessentially Dutch architecture.|
|Welcome to the city center of Volendam whose storied architecture conveys uniquely Dutch designs.|
|Look at all that cheese! This is one of the little shops I visited in the interior village of Volendam.|
|This charming shop welcomed us with opened gates. Look how quaint and picturesque this little village house is!|
|More historic Dutch homes line the tiny canals and quaint bridges in the interior village of Volendam.|
Finally, we arrived at Saint Vincentiuskerk or St. Vincent's Church in Volendam. Built in 1860, the church recently celebrated its 150th anniversary and is the second oldest church in Volendam. I find when I travel, I must seek out the churches and cathedrals to explore the architecture inside out, interior ornamentation, and to learn about the local worship. Here are a few pics of the interior as well.
|Saint Vincentiuskerk or Saint Vincent's Church in Volendam dates back to 1860.|
|Saint Vincentiuskerk in Volendam.|
|Interior shot of St. Vincent's Church in Volendam.|
|The stained-glass windows above in St. Vincent's show Jesus attending the wedding at Cana in the top two panels while the bottom two depict the 'Annunciation' when the Angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive the Baby Jesus.|
And so as the sun sets upon my Viking Odin and upon the ships in the harbor, it also sets upon my voyage to the charming coastal town of Volendam. While it's goodbye for now, I hope you enjoyed your visit through Volendam in The Netherlands! Tot de volgende keer or until next time my friends.
|And so the sun sets upon the "Viking Odin" and upon my voyage to Volendam. What an extraordinary day this was!|
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|A parting shot of the sunset in the Volendam Harbor!|