The Dutch are proud of their windmills, and revere them as integral to the development of their nation. Since the 12th Century, windmills have been used to power the pumps that regulate the flow of water, preventing floods and enabling the cultivation of land at or below sea level. The windmills also ground grain for flour. Some windmills operating today have been functioning for hundreds of years. Most are made of stone, though some wooden ones remain. The Dutch bewail the fact there are only about a thousand windmills left in the country. Certainly they are unique features of the landscape. I had never doubted that the tour would include an excursion to show us some windmills. It is almost mandatory for visitors to The Netherlands, as attested to by the presence of other tour groups at Kinderdijk. The village of Kinderdijk dates from 1740. It was constructed on a polder, that is, on flood-prone land drained by a series of windmills. The nineteen windmills controlling the canal system beside the River Lek are picturesque enough to lure hundreds of thousands of sightseers to the Kinderdijk wetlands annually. We had to wait in the unrelenting cold to ride past the windmills in a small canal boat. The boat had no glass in its windows. There were just rectangular openings along the boat's sides, through which we could gaze at the mills’ sails, turning sedately as we passed. In the evening, our cruise ship docked in Rotterdam, one of the world’s major ports. Since German bombing raids destroyed much of the city, Rotterdam had to be rebuilt after World War Two. Instead of restoring the demolished historic districts and harbor facilities, Rotterdam’s council elected to modernize the city. Some of its structures are futuristic, but in the styles considered avant-garde in the 1960’s. Bucolic Kinderdijk and bustling Rotterdam could not have presented a greater contrast. Their only commonalities were in being Dutch, and in being too cold for me to stay outdoors with even a modicum of comfort.
Goats at Kinderdijk
A wooden windmill
Miri, HL and me with our guide Karel; yes, the Dutch do tend to be tall people.
Willemsbrug (William's Bridge) in central Rotterdam. spanning the Nieuw Maas (New Meuse), a tributary of the Rhine River