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Published: July 25th 2019
Boarding the Viking Eir (pronounced "air")
The next leg of our journey begins in the port of Amsterdam just 10 minutes from our hotel. The Viking ship Eir sat glistening in the sun waiting for us to board and as on previous trips we were welcomed aboard relieved of our luggage and invited to lunch in the Aquavit Lounge until our room was available. Tom and I already knew the routine, once our room was ready a crew member came to find us and lead us to our room to explain all the amenities.
The dinner hour now near we were hoping to meet a few couples to help make this journey fun and happily memorable. Tom and I went to the table at the back of the dining room on the left side there sat our table for six. We've had good luck meeting wonderful people at this particular table and our luck was definitely to continue.
It is here on our first night that we were luck enough to meet John and Diana then shortly following Beatriz and Terry, Dinner was great and it wasn't long before we felt we had known
each other for a long time.
This was our first stop on our cruise down the Rhine. Kinderdijk is a world heritage UNESCO site. There are still 19 working windmills that were built in approximately 1748. These were designed to keep Holland above water. They pump water out of the polder soil and into the river.
The position of the sails when the windmill is at a standstill can have various meanings. For instance if the is stopped just before it reaches the highest vertical point it is a celebration like a marriage or birth of a child. When the sails look like "+" it means the operator of the windmill is taking a rest. If it looks like "X" then he is taking a longer rest. I found the simplicity of this kind on communicating fascinating.
Our boat tied up at the foot of one of the dikes and our tour was to be on foot. We could easily see the windmills in the back ground. The only problem was that it was raining, a lot....I was glad we had decided early on to take the walking tour and not the biking tour. I
felt sorry for the bikers as the rain was unrelenting and there was thunder in the distance.
Just as before on previous Viking trips Tom and I dawned our "quiet voxes" synced them with our tour guide Dennis and in single fashion with the rest of our group left the boat. As we filed out each one was handed a large umbrella in an attempt to keep us dry. We were happy to see our new friends John and Diana had been linked to our particular group. We were becoming fast friends.
Our tour guide began his talk about the town of Kinderdijk, dikes and how the windmills came to be as we all walked in the driving rain towards the windmills. He was speaking as if it was a warm day and we were out for a little walk. He barely acknowledged the weather conditions at all. I was cold and wet but determined to get some up close pictures of those windmills before I would cave in, abandon the tour and seek the warm shelter of our ship. So on we trudged, the umbrellas failed to keep us dry because the rain that was now hitting
us from the sides . My shoes were wet and the wet line on my jeans was rising from my ankle to my knees, on we went listening to the thunder get closer and closer....... There was another party of about 30 like us entering a windmill ahead and I wondered how the entire group actually fit in the windmill. We arrived and our guide kept talking and keeping us outside (I imagine we were waiting for the first group to finish)
Suddenly there were large cracks of lightening close to us and quick thunder claps followed. The windmill keeper (a crusty old Dutchman wearing wooden shoes) poked his head out the door and shouted to our guide to get everyone inside as it was too dangerous to be out in the lightening right now. As quickly as we could we piled into the windmill along with the other group. The inside was bigger than I imagined but it was clear the windmill had reached it capacity. As we entered we were moved to a narrow steep ladder that we oh so carefully climbed to the second level. Once we reached the 2nd level Tom decided he'd seen enough
and went over to the ladder leading down. It was also so steep you needed to turn around and go down backwards. I saw another ladder leading higher and wanted to see what was up there so I went in the other direction and up again. The weather continued to worsen and with the windmill full of weather refuges I became stuck on the 3rd level of the windmill trying to see outside through a tiny porthole of a window. I was sitting on the narrow ladder half way between the 3rd and 2nd floors unable to move in any direction. The rain and lightening seemed to last forever. Finally the guide for the group that was here before us told their group they may as well walk back down the dike as quickly as possible and make it to the pump house. This was possibly a 10 minute walk. Once they left it relieved the congestion considerably and I was able to make it slowly down to the 1st floor. I already knew Tom wasn't in the windmill anymore. It was so claustrophobic he would have opted to remain outside and that is where I found him, close to
the side of the building but outside soaked to the bone.
Our guide thought it was a poor choice for the first group to walk out in the lightening and rain so he called the ship and asked them to get a boat over to us. (water canals were close by) It took maybe ten minutes, once it arrived we quickly boarded and it only took a few minutes to get to the pump house and ultimately back on board.............. Oh the places we'll go and the things we will see.
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