Published: October 6th 2008September 9th 2008
After the unwelcome and unanticipated delay, Nelson and I were finally on board the train that would take us to the city of Naarden, the ancient capital of Holland before Amsterdam became its capital and also the capital of the entire country of the Netherlands.
Though yesterday had been a very productive day in terms of the video production work needed for our upcoming International Broadcast Conference, I was not totally happy with our windmill shots in Volendam. The otherwise great-looking windmill there was not in service and provided only very static shots for our video.
After some overnight research on the Internet, I had found a very promising photo of three windmills that according to the tag, had been taken in Naarden; a city within the general vicinity of Amsterdam and accessible via train. So our quest for finding a working windmill was on!
Catching a train from Amsterdam’s Central Station to Naarden was supposed to be a very simple proposition, unfortunately, as we tried to purchase our train tickets via the pervasive fare machines at the station, we discovered that not all credit cards work on these machines. Our American-issued credit cards appeared not to be
compatible with the system.
Nelson and I spent some time trying unsuccessfully to pay with any of our combined credit and debit cards, but eventually, we gave up and joined the long line of travelers waiting their turn at the station’s ticket counter. By doing so, we would be able to purchase the tickets from a human being.
In due time and with our round-trip tickets on hand, we were able to board an express train that would take us in less than half-an-hour to the Naarden-Bussum station where we would arrange additional transportation to the city proper.
In addition to Naarden’s history as an ancient capital, the city is also one of the few walled and fortified cities in Europe surrounded by its own moat. As Nelson and I approached the city by bus, we observed the fortifications’ unique configuration, but we later discovered that the only way to truly appreciate them is from the air. The city actually resembles a Japanese “shuriken” or Ninja star when seen from above.
After we got off the bus at the first stop within Naarden, just inside the wall, Nelson and I started exploring the town and stumbled
upon the large church at the center of the city. The church features a large statue of Jan Amos Comenius
who is considered the father of modern education. He was buried in Naarden after his death in Amsterdam in 1670.
After an hour or so spent exploring the streets within the fortified walls, Nelson and I had already seen almost everything in the small town but seen nothing that resembled the surroundings captured in the windmill picture on the Internet. We started asking the locals for directions but nobody appeared to know about any windmills in the area!
Finally, we walked into a small shop near the big church and asked the couple that owned the place. They did not know either, but the husband took us to the shop next door. There on the shop’s window, was a large, high-resolution aerial picture of Naarden. Aside from giving us the opportunity to appreciate the very unique shape of the city for the first time, the photo also proved that there were no windmills in town! The experience was a painful reminder that one must not trust everything that one sees on the Internet!
to the fate of not finding our working windmill, Nelson and I proceeded to look for a place to get something to eat. We found one such place around the back of the big church. We had a slow and relaxing meal but while there, we took the opportunity to ask our server about the windmills… She did not have an answer for us either, but offered to ask other people at the restaurant in case somebody else knew.
After a while, our server returned with an elderly gentleman who gave us the first real hope of completing our quest. He told us that in the city of Weesp, between Naarden and Amsterdam, there are three windmills and one of them might be still in service!
Our train this morning had stopped briefly in Weesp so we decided to try our luck one last time. In our way back to Amsterdam, when our train stopped there, Nelson and I got off and found just outside the station, a large city map with drawings of three windmills and their location in town.
We soon discovered that the windmills were not the only attractions in town. As Nelson and
I walked towards the windmills’ location, we followed a long stretch of very attractive houses and shops along a wide canal that flanked the city.
It was at the beginning of this long stretch where Nelson and I first glanced at the singular sight of windmill blades rotating in the distance… There was at least one operating windmill in town and it was within reach!
Nelson and I continued enjoying our walk through Weesp, and ultimately reached a pair of windmills; one of them in full operation. This particular windmill was in the process of grinding grain into various flours. A commercial vehicle waiting outside the building would take its products for distribution.
The second windmill next door was attached to an inhabited house and the family within appeared to be engaged in daily family life… What a unique place to raise a family!
Nelson and I spent considerable time capturing video and still images at the site. We finally had everything we needed for our video production and were ready to return to our base in Amsterdam for a full week of business.
There are more photos below