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An easy drive or commute via public transport will reward you with a chance to see some wonderful old towns and villages, along with numerous fun attractions.
From the spectacular coastline, just a few kilometers away, to the country's most important tulip growing region, to quaint little markets and shops, there are many fantastic excuses to hop on a train or bus and explore the area around Amsterdam.
Bavokerk); a huge Late Gothic structure notable for its slender 40-meter-tall tower; its many rich furnishings (of particular interest are the three old model warships, a nod to the church's role as the chapel of the Seamen's Guild); and the famous 18th-century Müller Organ, one of the greatest such instruments in the world for its tone and decoration.
Finally, be sure to take a peek into the Old City Hall, built in the 13th century and notable for its large tower and plush interior (guided tours are available).
Originally a shallow bay in the North Sea, the former Zuiderzee extended some 100 kilometers inland, was up to 50 kilometers wide, and included some 300 kilometers of coastline.
That all changed, however, when the Zuiderzee was cut off from the North Sea to create the Ijsselmeer, the lake that formed as the saltwater gave way to freshwater.
This picture-perfect landscape once formed the kitchen garden (or "keuken") of a large country estate, much of it now consisting of restaurants, patios, and exhibitions, along with more than 700 varieties of tulips, hyacinths, crocuses, and daffodils.
About 70 kilometers southwest of Amsterdam just past The Hague on the Hook of Holland, the Maeslant Barrier is just part of the country's massive Delta Works project, an engineering marvel designed to prevent flooding.Afterwards, pop into the Alkmaar Cheese Museum in the Weigh House for its exhibits on the history of cheesemaking.Along with its famous cheeses, the Netherlands is also known the world over for its flowers, in particular its tulips.Adding to the experience is watching the cheese-porters, dressed in white and wearing hats in the colors of their guild, carry sometimes as many as 80 Edam cheeses on cradle-like racks to be weighed.Before anything can be shipped off, the crowds are welcomed and bells are rung (English language explanations of the rituals are offered at am).