Skerries – a short getaway from Dublin

Last weekend, we drove up to Skerries, a seaside town north of Dublin city. In about an hour, we made it to the centre of the small town. Easily accessible by Dublin bus and the Irish rail, Skerries is part of the Dublin county and makes for a great city break.

Skerries is especially popular for its historic tower mills that date back several hundred years. The Skerries mill complex includes 2 tower mills or windmills and a water mill.

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The mills can be visited through a guided tour only and unfortunately the last tour was already underway when we got to the mills. And so, we just walked around the mill complex admiring the mills from a distance.

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The one above is the four sail windmill and is the older of the two. It’s also known as The Small Windmill while the one below is called The Great Windmill. The taller one below is said to be more efficient considering its five sails.

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It was good weather the day we were visiting – blue skies showing no trace of rain. Perfect weather to walk the little coast of Skerries.

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We were soon peckish and decided to head over to this little cafe Goat in The Boat for some snacks and coffee. Funny little folk tale of St. Patrick and his visit to Skerries can be found on one of the cafe’s walls.

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Skerries is filled with cute little cafes.

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Storm in a Teacup is very close to the beach, perfect place to take away some icecream and a cuppa to enjoy by the beautiful Irish sea.

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From the Skerries harbor, you can see a faint outline of the Mourne Mountains in the distance

We walked along the rocky shore picking shells and watching little hermit crabs scurrying thru tidepools.

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As the sun went down, it started to get nippy and we made our way back to the car park.

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Right behind the car park is one of the two Martello Towers in Skerries. You’ll find plenty of such towers along the Irish coastline. These small defensive forts were built during the French revolution. Although primarily functioning as a watch-house, these towers were also homes to the guards and their families.

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Alhough we spent only a few hours in Skerries and found Howth much more fascinating, it was nevertheless a lovely evening spent in good company.

Zaanse Schans – a small paradise

A beautiful little windmill village tucked away in the picturesque Dutch countryside.

You go back in time as you walk into the historic Zaanse Schans, a district in Zaandam, Netherlands. The place is filled with ancient windmills, traditional Dutch wooden houses, and beautiful green fields, all surrounded by the serene waters of the Zaan river.

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The famous windmills of Holland

We visited Zaanse Schans in winter. It was a nippy cloudy day. We walked hand in hand along the lush green fields admiring the stunning landscape.

The Dutch industrial revolution was born right here. There were more than a 1000 windmills in this place several centuries ago, some of which were used to grind spices, produce paint, saw wood and make oil. Today all that remains is 6 of these historic windmills, most of which are still working!

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Windmills of Zaanse Schans hard at work

You can go into a few of these working windmills to see them in action. We visited the De Kat (The Cat) windmill, the only windmill in Zaanse Schans that is in its original position. The rest of the windmills here were moved from other places and rebuilt. The De Kat windmill grinds chalk to to produce paint. It is the only working windmill in the world that makes paint!

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Inside the De Kat Windmill – granite stones weighing 3000 kilograms grinding limestone

You can also go up to the top of the windmill to see the blades moving to the strong wind. The view from up here is quite pretty as well.

We also visited the De Catharinahoeve, a cheese farm where we went thru a quick run-down of the production process of this creamy yellow gold. If there’s one thing the Dutch is known for as much if not more than their windmills is their cheese and I could see why!

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A cheesy place

We spent the next hour or so just walking around this little village sipping on some hot chocolate and drifting off into thoughts of what life would have been like a few centuries back. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could just turn back time and pop into any era we like, live a few days, make merry and move on to the next.. heh a little wishful thinking never hurt anyone!

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Some of these houses are museums and souvenir shops while some of them are still inhabited

When the weather is better, you can actually go on a boat ride exploring this idyllic little village along the Zaan river.

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View across the Zaan river

It was time to head back to Amsterdam.

We left Zaanse Schaans with heart-warming memories that will be cherished forever. And, who knows, life might just lead us back here again someday…