We participated in a few day tours in the Netherlands, and one of them was to Giethoorn and Volendam. They were two distinctively different towns but both offered unique views into Dutch life.
Giethoorn, one of my favorite places to visit the whole trip, was absolutely stunning. Called “the Venice of the North” (although honestly many towns claim that name), it is a town connected with no roads but canals instead. Houses with thatched roofs lined the canals and I felt like I was in a completely different time period!
We had the opportunity to do a boat tour that took us around the town, into a lake, and back again. Restaurants served traditional Dutch food, such as fish soup and meat croquettes. There were also ice cream and coffee shops that served great desserts. One of the most memorable experiences was meeting actual residents of Giethoorn who sat around a table making Knieperties, crisp wafers whose aroma literally guided us to them. The local people were so friendly and even taught us a thing or two about making our own Knieperties!
While Giethoorn was the main attraction for the day tour, there was an optional extension to visit Volendam, another Dutch town not too far away.
Volendam was a bustling town where stores and restaurants faced the boat-filled harbor. Its bright colors of orange, blue, and green created an exciting environment for not only tourists but for residents of the town as well.
Unfortunately, we did not get to spend much time in Volendam, but during the couple hours there, we witnessed cheese and stroopwafel making—and got to taste them! I have to say that although I am not a big fan of cheese, this Dutch cheese was amazing (my favorite was the Old Amsterdam cheese) and I kept going back for more samples. Stroopwafels (thin waffle cookies with caramel in the middle) can be found all over the Netherlands, but it was very cool to see them make it fresh right in front of my eyes!