Marken Island Is a small island (now connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway) just about 20 minutes drive north west of Amsterdam. It is easy to find on a map and can also be reached several times daily by tourist boats as it is a popular destination for tourist seeking a representation of traditional dutch architecture and lifestyle. For some time during the later 19th and early 20th centuries, Marken and its inhabitants were the focus of considerable attention by folklorist, ethnographers and physical anthropologist, who regarded the small fishing town as a relic of the traditional native culture that was destined to disappear as the modernization of the Netherlands gained pace. Today the town reluctantly welcomes many visitors daily who walk or bike through the island to see the old lighthouse, visit the wooden shoe factory/museum, and eat at one of the quaint restraints by the marina.
Notice the old dead tree covered in carved wooden shoes to the right of the bridge. It was a little creepy.
Pastoral European backdrops that once provided inspiration for Dutch landscape artist are at every turn.
The painted details on individual houses are what separate one from another, while otherwise very uniform in style and color palette. I love the shutters and the white grout striping and the fence post tipped in white!
A traditional dutch style lunch of fish and chips called Kibbeling, tomato soup, (real) dutch apple pie and lemon aid was served at a cafe dockside. While waiting for the food I snapped a few shots of the family, the lighting was pouring into the window just perfectly.
We wandered around snapping photo after photo of the beautifully painted wooden houses with sharply contrasting white trim. Some where striped with white and green and others a solid shade of dark green or grey. The architectural review board must be very rigid but I admit that the uniformity adds to the charm. And the grassy yards dotted with shaggy little sheep, color pennant flays hanging across canals and alleys, beautiful tiny little fences doted with colorful flower-boxes, laundry drying in the breeze and children in waistcoats running through the brick streets make this village a peaceful postcard-perfect afternoon destination for long walks along the sea.
For second-dessert we ate poffertjes- mini little dutch pancakes cooked in a hot iron mold and served up by a nice dutch couple in traditional outfits.
Outside of Marken Island there were example after example of lovely little cottages with traditional dutch details. In Switzerland we have beautiful old dark wood chalets and a multitude or rather sterile modern multifamily housing. I was daydreaming of a dutch cottage for days: painted shutters and little animals dotting the front yard, chicken houses that match the rambling little fairy tail cottages they are built next to, painted birds over windows and doorways, lace curtains and heart shaped wreaths, gates and fencepost and dutch doors and flower boxes and intricately carved gabel trimmings held my fascination as we drove and drove through charming little hamlets.
Someday I am going to train espalier (a technique to train any type of plants to grow flat against a wall or fence) trees to line the sidewalks in front of my cottage too.
I love the brick roads and sidewalks that seemed to line all of Amsterdam and its surrounding area.
Check out the traditional dutch gable detail that exist as a sort of dormer facade- breaking up the boring hipped rooflines.
This photo absolutely does this little fairytale cottage in justice. The rambling assorted outbuilding and house additions were all matching down to the dog house and chicken coup. What might have looked like a hot mess is totally darling!
I could have stayed here into the last warm days of autumn content to take photographs and long walks, paint like the old dutch masters and maybe even learn to shear sheep… but as you know that will have to wait for another season in life. In the mean time I think meeting up with a couple of girlfriends to properly explore the seaside and put a dent into the shopping opportunities that Amsterdam offers is going to have to be a priority next year!