Tulips and Windmills

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April 23rd 2015
Published: April 24th 2015
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Day 9 - April 23 - Rotterdam, Netherlands
Today we we had breakfast and were ready to head out for a big day of adventures. We boarded a tour bus with our guide today, Miriam and driver Petro and we took a tour around the old town of Rotterdam. This is a huge city and a bigger port. This port is actually the largest port in Europe. The second largest port in the world only to Singapore. The city were bombed a lot during WWIl and what was rebuilt was modern structures.

Next we drove to the town of Delft where we were toured the famous porcelain factory. We learned how they identify their completely hand painted items from the fakes. This was very interesting tour and the building itself was just beautiful with ceramic stair cases and columns etc. I bought an original candle stick holder and we also bought a small tray and a lair of earrings for me.

We returned to the town of Delft and took a walking tour and then had free time to lunch and shop. We asked the cruise director for a nice place to lunch and she gave us the name of the cafe "Stads Koffy Huis". It sat directly near a cannel with a drape right at the end of the cannel ... Another step and you are in the water! Lunch was really great. Jane and I had a dark wheat ciabatta toasted with soft goat cheese, bacon, arugula, walnuts and a drizzle of honey. Oh my I must make this at home! Jim had a organic beef burger he said was great and Bill enjoyed a ham and egg salad on a soft kaiser roll. We wanted to share a apple pancake and coffee but we didn't have enough time and had to return to the meeting place for the group. We were very sad as the pancakes were like a very large crepe and looked delicious. We walked to see the house of the 17th-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer who painted the famous painting "Girl with a Pearl Earring". It is an oil painting of a girl with a headscarf and a pearl earring. We saw the original painting in Amsterdam when we visited the Rijksmuseum. Just across from his house was a beautiful coffee and chocolate shop so we stopped in for coffee to go and 4 chocolates to enjoy later.

We arrived at the meeting place and boarded the coaches for the trip to Kinderdijk which is where we saw the windmills. The Netherlands is interesting country and have made water management a priority over the centuries. Forty percent (40%) of the country is below sea level in reclaimed land. This is is very marshy land and they have to constantly manage with dykes, dams, water pumps, windmills for pumping and water management systems to keep the North Sea from taking back the land. This area includes Amsterdam, Holland and many of the cities we have been visiting!

We arrived at the village of Kinderdijk. Around 1740 the Dutch built 19 windmills to help drain the low lying land at the confluence between two rivers. This group of molls are the largest concentration of windmills in the Netherlands and today is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1997.

We went to a building where we watched a video about the windmills, their purpose and function and the millers and their families that actually lived in the windmills. Then we walked out to one of the windmills that is open for viewing the interior. I stayed on the lower level where there was a small living and eating area with a small sleeping cubby in the corner. The cooking must have been done on the wood burning stove. Jim headed up the steep, winding and very narrow staircase to see what was up stairs. He said this area was dark, tight and with a lot of the mechanical gears of the windmill. Against one wall, there were small bunks where the family children must have slept. The windmills had to be manned 24 hours a day so they would know when to pump. The millers had a signal system with the placement of the blades in certain positions to know when to pump water out. What a hard life!

We were running late and returned to the ship and as soon as all passengers were on board we set sail for the next stop, Dordrecht. We enjoyed dinner and headed to the lounge. We had stopped for a group of men chanteys to come on board and sing some old seaman songs. We stayed for a couple of songs and snuck out and returned to our cabin for the night.


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