It may sound like a bit of a cliché but most tourists in Holland usually find themselves, at some stage of their visit, especially if it coincides with Northern Spring and Summer, amidst colourful tulip fields and windmills. This was definitely the case during my recent Avalon Waterways river ship cruise aboard Avalon Luminary.
After our cruise departure from Amsterdam, the next morning I was able to enjoy a relatively relaxed breakfast, as we were already tied up at our docking position in Kinderdijk. Breakfast, which was always served buffet style, offered a huge selection of fresh fruits, cereals, yoghurt, croissants and assorted breads, smoked salmon, omelettes, bacon and eggs cooked to order, plus a daily special to ensure we had plenty of energy for the included excursions. As well as serving the usual coffee and tea, a bottle of sparking wine was also offered, as is the European custom, which is a custom I totally endorse.
After finishing breakfast, we had a couple of hours free to explore on our own. Just a very short walk from where we were docked was the magnificent sight of Kinderdijk’s 19 windmills. Although windmills can be found all over Holland, the small village of Kinderdijk is the country’s windmill capital and is now a UNESCO world heritage site.
The function performed by the windmills was to pump the unwanted water from the polders to enable the land to be used for agricultural purposes. Most of Kinderdijk’s windmills were constructed during the 18th century but in the latter part of the 19th century a steam pumping station commenced operation. In the 1920s the steam power was replaced by diesel. Due to fuel shortages during World War II, the pumping station was put out of action and the windmills were reactivated to prevent the area from flooding. The last working windmill was taken out of commission in 1950, being replaced by a modern pumping station.
Sandra T. PHOTO: John Pond ©