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Day 3: Kinderdijk, Netherlands

And the world is like an apple whirling silently in space, like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind. Lyrics from the song "The Windmills of your Mind" by Noel Harrison.

semi-overcast 23 °C

Today we awoke to a beautiful fall morning in the Netherlands alongside the dock to the town of Kinderdijk (child of the dikes). After breakfast, we headed off the ship for a brief visit to the windmills. However, before we met our guide, we were able to get a picture of the Viking Lif, a barge on the river, and a "medieval looking" water tower.

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Although the overall objective of the day was to learn about the history of Dutch windmills, we also got an education on the history and geography of the Netherlands (since they are interwoven to a large degree). First, we learned that Holland was a region within the Netherlands (much like a state within the US) and that much of Holland is below sea level; hence the need for dikes and windmills that essentially keep the water out of the land or remove whatever unwanted water from the land, respectively. We also learned a little bit about the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemburg (Benelux) relationship and the shared language with Germany. But the real stars of the show today were the windmills.

The layout of this UNESCO site was presented in the picture below.

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Essentially, the development of the area has a history that goes back a couple of centuries. After settlers realized that the area was prone to flooding, they developed a series of canals, dikes and windmills that would move water from the lowlands, to canals, to the river that would keep their land dry. Apparently, the use of windmill theory was obtained from the Persians during the Crusades and utilized in Europe in the time thereafter.

After crossing over a series of walkways, we crossed over the canals to another walkway that would lead us to the "operating" windmill museum.

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Our guide explained in detail the fundamental operation of the windmill (essentially a wind generated pump) and the generations of "millers" who
operated the windmills. The windmills today are rented out to folks (certified millers), who must guarantee the windmill will be rotated 60,000 times per year.

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We also had the ability to visit the inside of the windmill and see the workings of the wheels that turn the pump as well as he the living quarters of the residents.

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The last part of the tour was a discussion not only on the history of the area but also on the woods used in the windmill mechanics (hardwoods from exotic countries), as well as in the making of the historic Dutch wooden shoes.

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We returned to the ship later morning and headed out to the river. The day was more of a rest day from traveling so the only item on the itinerary was a mandatory safety drill live with life vests. So, I spent the afternoon taking picture of life on and by the river.

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In late afternoon there was an excursion talk given by the program director followed by the introduction of the management team (captain, hotel director, etc.) followed by dinner. Prior to dinner we received a signed copy of a book written by a retired Lt. Colonel Leonard Dent who we had dined with the prior evening (we made a donation for research into a cure for cystic fibrosis). Meeting people has been kind of fun as we talked earlier with MIT graduate who was on the IBM team that brought forth the first IBM PC.

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Additionally, we were able to catch the sunset from the ship.

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We had dinner with a couple from Brisbane, Australia and a couple from California followed by a brief lesson in German since we are headed to Cologne, Germany in the morning.

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We finished up with the lesson and again headed off to bed.

Posted by Argenti Travel 20:20 Archived in Netherlands

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