Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Amsterdam - Lunch while enjoying a beautiful scenery in Volendam

Date: 12th October 2015

It was about lunch time when we were done with a little exploration inside the Cheese Factory. The tour guide then gathered us all and lead us to where we can have lunch on our own. The winds blow was no joke when we were at Volendam harbour, hence, Anne and I chose for an indoor lunch. I wanted to grab a food outlet outside but thinking of a warmer environment inside the nice cafe that we finally opted has stopped me from persuading Anne for a set lunch available at a much cheaper price outside.

A small fishing village harbor of Volendam

Volendam is a town in North Holland in the Netherlands, in the municipality of Edam-Volendam. The town has more than 22,000 inhabitants. Originally, Volendam was the location of the harbor of the nearby Edam, which was situated at the mouth of the IJ bay. In 1357, the inhabitants of Edam dug a shorter canal to the Zuiderzee with its own separate harbor. As a result, it removed the need for the original harbor, which was then dammed and used for land reclamation. From here onward, I spice up the reading about Volendam with photos that I snapped inside the beautiful decorated cafe.

A cool decor inside the cafe

Netherland on the other hand is a country of reclamation and geographically is a very low and flat country, with about 26% of its area and 21% of its population located below sea level. Only about 50% of its land exceeding one metre above sea level. The country is for the most part is flat, with the exception of foothills in the far southeast, up to a height of no more than 321 metres, and some low hill ranges in the central parts. Most of the areas below sea level are man-made, caused by peat extraction or achieved through land reclamation. Since the late 16th century, large polder areas are preserved through elaborate drainage systems that include dikes, canals and pumping stations. Nearly 17% of the country's land area is reclaimed from the sea and from lakes.

Farmers and local fishermen settled and forming the new community of Vollendam. It literally meant something like 'Filled dam'. In the early part of the 20th century it became something of an artists' retreat, with both Picasso (Spanish painter) and Renoir (French painter) spending time here. The majority of the population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, which is deeply connected to the village culture. Historically, many missionaries and bishops grew up in Volendam. Today there is the chapel of Our Lady of the Water, which is located in a village park. Alas, we did not get to see that as everyone is adjourned for lunch.

A clean toilet and it's sign that is so attractive to see

Volendam is a popular tourist attraction in the Netherlands, well known for its old fishing boats and the traditional clothing still worn by some residents. The women's costume of Volendam, with its high, pointed bonnet, is one of the most recognizable of the Dutch traditional costumes, and is often featured on tourist postcards and posters (although there are believed to be fewer than 50 women now wearing the costume as part of their daily lives, most of them elderly). There is a regular ferry connection to Marken, a peninsula close by. Volendam also features a small museum about its history and clothing style, and visitors can have their pictures taken in traditional Dutch costumes. But we did not get to see those traditional costume due to time limitation. Below are the seafood that we indulged that day.

The way Anne rated the cafe
After lunch, while waiting for others to gather, we decided to try the famous "herring", a local fish dishes that we vowed to try. Apparently, we found the same types of dish in the Scandinavian country too. This region is very safe to find Muslim food, I mean to get a fish dish which is halal for us to eat.

Herring has been a staple food source since at least 3000 B.C. There are numerous ways the fish is served and many regional recipes are either eaten raw, fermented, pickled, or cured by other techniques, such as being smoked as kippers. The lady that serves us that day informed that the Dutch likes their herring in fermented (the 1 that we tasted). Herring are very high in the long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. They are a source of vitamin D. 

Fermented herring
Smoked type

Do take note that water pollution influences the amount of herring that may be safely consumed. For example, large Baltic herring slightly exceeds recommended limits with respect to PCB and dioxin, although some sources point out that the cancer-reducing effect of omega-3 fatty acids is statistically stronger than the cancer-causing effect of PCBs and dioxins. The contaminant levels depend on the age of the fish which can be inferred from their size. Baltic herrings larger than 17 cm may be eaten twice a month, while herrings smaller than 17 cm can be eaten freely. Mercury in fish also influences the amount of fish that women who are pregnant or planning to be pregnant within the next one or two years may safely eat.

It was time to board a ship to Marken where the Tickets & Tours has arranged in the itinerary for us to ride in a Marken Express to the reach Marken Island. The rest of the photos that I'm sharing herewith are from the short and memorable ride. Do give it a try, I mean taking Marken Express. The view and a group of Seagulls following us that day was indeed priceless.

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