Modern technological marvels interspersed with picturesque architecture greet groups of students visiting Amsterdam. But while the city has mostly yielded to the demands of modern day, you can still capture its spirit on an educational trip to the nearby village of Zaanse Schans.
As you lead your students down the cobbled streets of the village, they wonâ€™t be able to shake the feeling that they have been thrown back to the eighteenth or nineteenth century. Numerous windmills dot the skyline, a tantalising fragrance of cookies wafts from traditional bakeries. They can stop by the various craft shops and learn about the production process of various wares. Some of the traditional houses in this other-worldly oasis are also used as gift shops, while others are still inhabited. Read on for some highlights you absolutely must point out to your class on an educational trip
to Zaanse Schans.
As the children enter the village and accustom themselves to their other-worldly surroundings, it is suddenly hard for them not to follow their nose. And their noses lead them to the doorstep of the de Gecroonde Duyvekater Bakery Museum where they can collect recipes for some delicious desserts, observe them in the making and have a bite.
If a call for the most Dutch thing ever brings clogs to your mind, you are absolutely right. Clogs (or versions of them) have been worn in these regions for at least a millennium with the first ones having served as a wedding gift from a man to his bride. These wooden shoes are especially useful in treading swampy fields. An educational trip to the Clog Factory lends students a peak at how these shoes used to be made. They can be made out of willow or poplar wood, and a traditional clog maker can craft up to seven pairs of them a day: a production rate which cannot compete with the output of modern machinery, but which makes traditional klompen all the more precious. Wooden shoes are so popular, because they can be adapted to various uses. A testament to this are the pair of roller-skate clogs displayed at the factory.
Cheese fans will be delighted to know the villageâ€™s cheese factory De Catherinahoeve offers demonstrations of the process of cheese making every day. Such a mouth-watering experience can be very hard on hungry visitors, which is why they are also invited to taste myriad special-recipe cheeses, especially those they watched being made.
On your educational trip you shouldnâ€™t forget to take the children to a windmill. A token to the Netherlandsâ€™ skill in harnessing wind power, windmills are a fascinating engineering marvel. The 1000 mills which once populated the region used to be employed in various industries: from paper and tobacco production to dyeing fabrics and producing mustard. Today only 13 windmills stand, of which only 6 are functional.
Organising an educational trip to the Netherlands for a large group of students can be made much easier with the services of an expert tour operator. Having everything organised in advance provides you with the comfort of making the most of your trip without worrying about trivial matters.
John Gardiner is the Managing Director of The School Travel Company, a tour operator specialising in educational travel for school and youth groups. Whether you’re planning a school trip to Paris, New York or India’s Golden Triangle, you can trust both the educational and economic value of their itineraries, whether ready-made or specifically designed to suit the needs of your group.
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