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Published: September 30th 2013
Our Friends, Wil and Diana
treated us to a great day of exploring the area as well as some music on the boat.
Diana and Wil are friends we made when in Trinidad. They accompanied us on our trip to Venezuela down the Manamo River back in November 2011. They live in the Netherlands when not cruising on their boat, Cornelis. Fortunately for us they were here while we were so we arranged to get together for a day while we were in Amsterdam. They had first suggested taking our dinghy through the canals of Amsterdam which sounded like a great idea, but our dinghy is quite small and underpowered for 4 people to cross the main river to get to the canals – all of us would definitely have been wet! They came up with an excellent alternative plan and took us to a few of the nearby villages.
Our first treat was when they arrived at the marina. Wil brought his mandolin and Diana and he both have excellent voices so we were treated to some music while having a cup of coffee on the back of the boat. After catching up some on what has been happening since we last were together, we jumped in their car and had a great tour of the area. One place that they took
Five of the Six
windmills located at Zaanse Schans - pretty impressive.
us to was called Zaase Schans. It is an area where they have moved many of the historic homes from the surrounding area to preserve them. This area also has a large number of traditional windmills that are working and are open for tours.
This was the first time that we were able to see so many windmills at the same location. There are 6 located within easy walking distance. They are being used for a variety of purposes – one is milling peanuts to produce peanut oil, another is grinding pigment for paint, two of them are sawmills, 1 smaller one is grinding spices and the last made a type of vegetable oil. Naturally with Bob in the group, we chose to tour the sawmill. They started the tour by showing a film about the building of the mill. What was unique was that a mill had been taken down back in 1942 and fortunately when that was done a local teacher did extensive drawings of its construction with precise measurements. These plans were used in the rebuilding of the windmill. The work started in 2004 and it was completed in 2007. It is now a full production
A Little Closer Look
at two of the windmills that are working mills.
sawmill using the wind power for energy to cut the logs that are brought to the mill by water. The wind power is also used to hoist the logs out of the water and to feed the tree trunks through the saw frames to be cut. Volunteers work at the mill showing how it functions and answering questions, obviously a labor of love. They have an excellent scale model that demonstrates the inner workings of the mill and how the top of the windmill turns to optimize the wind. We were told that during the heyday of the milling industry more than 200 sawmills were located in this area. During that period the windmill workers put in a long day of work processing approximately 80 logs per day. The development of the steam engine around the end of the century slowly led to the demise of the wind mills.
There were many other buildings moved here such as the store that was the start of a supermarket chain now found throughout the Netherlands called Albert Heijn. Still others were homes that are now rented out thus creating a living community. It reminded us of Wiliamsburg in many regards. We
The Start of a Supermarket Chain
The supermarket chain, Albert Heijn got its start with this shop that Albert took over from his parents in 1887.
had parked on the other side of the water in Zaandijk which gave us an opportunity to take the ferry across to where the car was. Zaandijk has many of the traditional buildings with plenty to see as well. There had been up to 1,000 windmills in the Zaan district of the Netherlands, but by 1920 only 50 were left. In 1925 a windmill society was formed to preserve the mills for future generations. This society now owns 12 of the mills and keep them up and running. It was fascinating to actual be able to go inside one of these windmills and see how they operated and what an important part they played in the industrial development of the Netherlands.
We then went to a small area called Marken. It had been an island with its own language and culture, but as a result of the building of dykes and land reclamation over the years it has become part of the peninsula in the Markemeer. It had a working lighthouse when this body of water was part of the North Sea; it is still standing but is now a private residence. There is a small beach located here
Bicycle Delivery Vehicle
Bicycles are used for everything here – this one was for delivery of groceries.
where Wil and Diana took a nice swim. We were not prepared for swimming so had a nice relaxing time watching the sailboats on the lake. When we were walking back to the car from the beach, we had to walk close to a few of the houses. One doorway was open and they had a few pairs of wooden shoes that were obviously worn regularly. I took a photo and then all of a sudden was caught by one of the residents – he just laughed that I was taking a photo of their shoes! By the way I did ask and he said they are very comfortable.
They drove us to another small fishing town that we just took a short walk through and then by that time it was time for some dinner. We ended up back in Amsterdam where we had a nice dinner at the rooftop restaurant located in the library. There was quite a view from there. When we were leaving we were treated to someone playing the piano. There was a sign there that stated that anyone that plays can use the piano for up to 30 minutes at a time and
Traditional Door Treatment
sometimes gave a hint of what the owner did for a living, others were decorative.
a maximum of 4 times per day. There were a few rules but one was that the music needed to be played at a soft level – the classical piece that was being played was excellent background music for those reading in the library. What a clever idea.
Diana and Wil were going to then take us to the red light district of Amsterdam, but it was getting quite late and they still had a drive ahead of them to get to their home. It was a lovely day getting a chance to reconnect with them and see some of the surrounding areas that we would not have had an opportunity to. Thanks Diana and Wil – so glad we were able to connect while we were in the Netherlands. Best wishes to you for your sailing season this year when you return to the Caribbean in October. One of the bonuses of this lifestyle is having friends located in so many places in the world. You never know when your paths might cross again.
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