Tulips, cheese and clogs – welcome to Amsterdam
The Dutch capital bursts to life especially in spring. But that does not make it any less interesting in other seasons with something for everyone.
Flying to Amsterdam at the moment? Yes? If not, put Amsterdam on your “To do list”. There are many reasons as why to visit it – from its winding canals, great bikes, good football, legalized marihuana, red district, to its trademarks: tulips, cheese and clogs.
Tulips were brought to Holland by a botanist named Carolus Clusius in the 16.th century. These colourful flowers soon became popular amongst Amsterdam´s high society causing the prices of bulbs to shoot up. People saw an investment opportunity and doing so they caused the tulip bubble burst in 1637 which resulted in collapse of the market, but the love for tulips did not diminish and the Dutch still love them. The Netherlands grow 4,32 billion tulip bulbs every year and half of them end as cut flowers which places them on top of the tulip industry. Would you also like to grow your own tulips? That´s easy. You can buy all kinds of bulbs at the flower market. If you would like to know more about the history of tulips and how they made their way to the Netherlands – just so you will know, from Central Asia – you can visit the Tulip museum (entry 5€).
Yellow gold, as some people call Dutch cheese, is one of the most recognizable brands in Dutch industry. This area has been the home of cheese production for centuries, but nowadays it is most famous for production of Gouda, originating from the city with the same name. Gouda cheese is a medium hard cheese made of cow milk and aged between 3 and 5 months. Besides Gouda, Edam and Alkmaar are also famous for their cheese. Cheese being so venerated by the Dutch (every person consumes around 17 kg of cheese per year) it is something you should definitely not miss. There are plenty of places where you can taste cheese, or you can visit the Cheese museum Amsterdam, (no entrance fee) and find out everything about the cheese making tradition and you can even dress up as a cheese farmer and taste different types of cheese.
The Netherlands are also a country of clogs. You probably won´t find anyone strolling in them in Amsterdam (maybe you could give it a go and kick off a new trend), but they are still used for work in the gardens. It is hard to say when they started making them, because after they did their job they were burnt for heating purposes. The oldest clogs were found in Amsterdam and they presumably originate from the 13th century. Made by hand in the past, but today hands gave way to machines and they still make around 6 million pairs annually, mostly for tourists. We visited De Simonehoeve (cheese and clogs factory in one) about 15 kilometres outside of Amsterdam (no entrance fee). They showed us how they make clogs, which wood they use, we could even try some beautifully coloured clogs on and you can also buy some as souvenirs.
Amsterdam is a great weekend destination, but it can keep you busy for longer than that. It is needless to say that you will see the most tulips in spring time, but for cheese and clogs there is no such thing as bad timing. Let go to the city´s buzz, rent a bike, go on a canal tour and leave some room in your luggage for tulip bulbs, cheese and clogs.
About authors: Simona and Jure Čuček
Simona and Jure are a very special couple – translators and teachers by profession, but travellers by heart. They are the happiest on the road, together, in an unknown country, city or nature – doesn't matter. They suffer from weakness for animals and they love spending time at the sea. In the fall of 2015 they embarked on a one year Round the World trip and have visited more than 50 countries so far. The Round the World trip made them start their own blog Slovenians travel with readers from different countries.