We spent a lot of time on the road this entire summer vacation, including a trip to Brussels. We left Paris at 8 in the morning and around 4 hours later, we arrived in Belgium and had a quick photo stop at the famous Atomium.
Brussels’ weather was awesome and quite sunny when we arrived. But that didn’t last long as we went to explore the Old Town. The rain didn’t even bother all the tourists gathering and taking photos around the Manneken Pis area. Manneken Pis is a peeing boy statue that often wears different costumes for different occasions. The statue is so small but surprisingly attracts a lot of tourists. We ate the famous Belgian waffle near that area, also bought some chocolate at the Godiva store.
We had another road trip to Amsterdam that day and headed to our hotel to get some rest. We stayed at the Corendon Vitality Hotel and I personally loved the big room! You might want to check it out if you happen to visit Amsterdam.
We explored the best out of Amsterdam including the amazing Zaanse Schans and Volendam. We had the chance to know more about the long process of producing cheese in the Henri Willig store (located in Zaanse Schans) from one of the staffs, also tried different cheese and snack sample inside this store. Another thing you should expect from this area are the windmills, klompen workshop, and lots of stores selling unique Amsterdam souvenirs. Klompen are traditional clogs or footwear from the Netherlands, originally made from wood. There’s a little museum where you could see different types of klompen throughout the years; several TVs are also provided inside to show visitors how klompen are made.
Moving on to Volendam, known as the location for many locals’ summer houses with the sea view. Not far from those houses, you could find lots of restaurants, cheese shops, and souvenir stores. I and my sister visited a little studio where we had our photos taken in traditional Dutch costume. We had to pay €20 for the service and one printed photo (which is relatively big) but no frame included.
From Volendam, we went ahead to explore Amsterdam using the city canal cruise service. The cruise trip took around one hour. People could see Amsterdam from different angle by taking this cruise, also with the incredibly informative multi-language guide voiceover telling us history of the buildings we crossed by. Headphones are provided as well. This was one of my favorite things ever, a really great and relaxing way to see the scenery of Amsterdam, the people, and all the beautiful landmarks through the canals.
Our last stop before dinner was to stop at Gassan. It’s some kind of diamond factory tour where you could learn things about diamonds (obviously..), like how they are cut into different shapes as well as how they are priced based on the 4Cs (carat, color, clarity, and cut). If you have zero interest with diamonds, you might want to pass on this one; to me, it was so interesting and such a fun way to learn new things!
Before walking to our dinner spot, which was an Indonesian restaurant, we went to the iconic “I amsterdam” sign. It was crowded and we could barely have our photos taken with the full sign because kids (even teenagers) were playing and climbing around. A not-so-recommended tourist thing to do I would say, unless you have plenty of time in the city.