Our plan for the morning was to take the train into Amsterdam Central and then travel from there by bus to the village of Marken. Buses run half hourly (No.315) and depart from behind the railway station, this journey being included in the regional travel ticket. It was a pleasant ride out to Marken, the bus making good progress and seldom stopping on its way. The latter part of the journey being along a narrow causeway connecting the village to the mainland. To visit Marken’s picturesque small harbour it’s necessary to alight in the bus station but the bus continues a little further after that.
From there, a narrow lane passing alongside typical Dutch houses leads towards the harbour, the pathways being decorated with bunting giving a festive appeal. There’s a small museum detailing the town’s history and traditional Dutch clothing style of the area featuring winged caps and brightly coloured striped skirts.
Arriving at the picturesque small harbour with its characterful wooden houses it was easy to see why the village attracts so many visitors, it’s one of the oldest fishing harbours in the Netherlands and in its heyday regularly accommodated up to 200 fishing boats. We strolled around the harbour admiring both the boats and the traditional houses many of which now have National Heritage status.
Instead of continuing by bus we decided to cross Markenmeer to Volendam on the Marken Express ferry which has sailings every 40 minutes. One way tickets cost €8.50 per person, this service being excluded from our regional ticket. Choosing to sit on the open, upper deck to enjoy the views we had to contend with a stiff breeze which caused most passengers to seek shelter downstairs in the saloon.
Approaching the quayside at Volendam made it all worthwhile though as the harbourside looked gorgeous lined with an assortment of typical wooden pointed houses greeting us as we moored on the jetty.
On disembarking from the ferry we found lots of these traditional buildings to be bars and cafes and it was not long before we were settled on a cosy terrace sipping our cups of coffee and unable to resist the temptation of Dutch waffles. Whilst sitting there watching throngs of tourists saunter past we spied a heron close by almost begging for food from a herring stall. It was very surprising to see a heron amongst so many people as they are known to be shy and usually spotted at the water’s edge rather than on a busy promenade. The local herons have obviously worked out its easier to scavenge for food on dry land.
Deciding we needed to make a move, a walk along the seafront and in the inviting little shops followed. Volendam has its own cheese factory offering free demonstrations of the cheese making process for the locally produced Edam and Gouda varieties. Being a lover of cheese this proved very interesting especially as tastings were available too.
We were so pleased that we’d decided to visit Volendam, it’s such a charming little place, a little touristy like Marken and with a few too many tour groups blocking the way but it’s certainly worth a visit. In Amsterdam we had noticed half day tours advertised visiting both Marken and Volendam costing €50 per person whereas we had only paid for the ferry as our bus journeys were covered by our travel ticket. Visiting these small towns had been easy by public transport and returning back to Amsterdam from Volendam centre took only 30 minutes with buses running every 15 minutes.
Later, after eating dinner we intended to explore Amsterdam’s Jordaan District but it started raining heavily so we jumped on a passing tram and rattled along the city streets watching the world go by from its rain spotted windows.