On Saturday, April 28th, I decided to board a southbound train for Kinderdijk, near Rotterdam, for the day. Before I left Holland, I really wanted to see the world-famous site.
For about a thousand years, the Dutch have been extremely clever in dealing with the water that surrounds them. The sustainable blend of nature and technology used to keep Kinderdijk dry is so uniquely valuable that the area and its windmills are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site – I didn’t want to miss it while I was so relatively close.
The views from the train along the way of all the flower fields in the bulb region were worth the train ride in itself.
After about an hour and a half or so I reached Rotterdam. From the train station, I walked through the town down to the docks to catch a waterbus which would take me to Kinderdijk.
I managed to find the waterbus and was soon on my way…
We cruised along the river Nieuwe Maas for about 8 miles and then there we were! (The following two photos are not mine, I “borrowed” them from their website.)
First I went inside the Visitor’s Center and learned all about the technology of pumping water. You won’t find a windmill complex like Kinderdijk anywhere else in the world. The ingenious system of windmills and pumping stations have been keeping the soil dry here for nearly a thousand years, in a constant struggle between human brains and the power of the water.
Per their tour, “Construction of hydraulic works for the drainage of land for agriculture and settlement began in the Middle Ages and have continued uninterruptedly to the present day. The site illustrates all the typical features associated with this technology – dikes, reservoirs, pumping stations, administrative buildings and a series of beautifully preserved windmills.
Like much of the rest of the country, Kinderdijk lies below sea level. If we let nature run its course here, some 40% of the Netherlands would be flooded, and 60% would be under threat from the waters! Throughout the ages, the people who lived in these areas had to come up with clever solutions to stave off disaster.
The famous windmills of Kinderdijk rise high above the polder landscape of Alblasserwaard, their mighty sails proudly facing the wind. A thousand years ago, this whole area was one big peat bog, trapped between raging rivers and the fury of the sea. Hunters and fishermen came here only in summer if the water levels were low enough.”
After learning a bit about what I was looking at, I headed over to ticket office and bought passage on one of the boats that cruise along the canal past the windmills. It was rather cold that day and the windmills were really spread out. I didn’t feel like walking to each of them and I am glad I did! Although I would have liked to get up close and personal with each one I also had to consider that I also had to navigate my way back to Amsterdam via the train before dark so time was limited and the boat proved to be the answer!
Off we went to see each of the windmills…
We traveled all the way down the canal and then turned around and headed back the way we came.
That was a whole lot of fun. The skies were quite stormy and threatening to rain, so I started making my way back to the train to head north back to Amsterdam. It was an uneventful train ride on a different route than I had taken earlier in the day and luckily it was shorter. Before I knew it, I was back at Amsterdam Central Station.
When I arrived, I decided to take a few photos of the area immediately around the station as I hadn’t been in that part of the city since I first arrived 10 days earlier.
From Amsterdam Central, I caught the No. 22 bus back to the Zeeberg Hostel, however, I got on the bus headed in the opposite direction, so I got another tour of the west side of Amsterdam and then turned around and rode the bus back through the center of town and out to the east side of town. That was an adventure in itself!
When I finally got back to the hostel, just as the sun was setting, the friendly woman at the reception desk asked me how my day bicycling around Amsterdam had been. I explained to her that I had returned the bike that morning and decided instead to take a train to visit Kinderdijk. She exclaimed, “Well, that’s mighty impressive; getting to Kindedijk via buses, trains, water buses and back again is not an easy thing to do, even for a local!” Her comment made me feel rather accomplished; I had no idea it was a test of my navigational skills!
I had a very early morning flight back to Aberdeen, Scotland scheduled the following day, so I ate some dinner in the hostel’s pub, sorted my belongings, packed my suitcase, and called it a night. Morning came far too soon, but just the same I woke up before sunrise to take a taxi arranged for me by the hostel.
When the taxi driver approached the off-ramp for Schipol airport we discovered the ramp was closed! What?!? We drove past, turned around to take the off-ramp on the other side of the highway, only to discover that too was closed. What’s going on?
Consequently, traffic was stopped, bumper-to-bumper, on the highway as far as we could see. When we inched past a police car, the driver asked the officer what was going on. The policeman informed us that Schipol was closed due to an electrical power outage and he had no idea when it would re-open. We also observed several people in my same predicament getting out of the cars ahead of us, removing their bags from the trunks, jumping the fence and heading off on foot to the airport at least a couple of miles away! Never seen anything quite like that before and neither had the taxi driver.
Luckily, the taxi the hostel had a contract with had a “set” fee because we drove back and forth for at least an hour and a half until finally, the airport re-opened and he was able to deliver me just outside the “departures” entrance; otherwise it would have cost me a small fortune!
Once inside the terminal, it was an absolute madhouse. It took another hour or two to work my way through the check-in lines, deposit my baggage, only to discover my flight had consequently been canceled. I had two options; wait for the next flight late that night or try again for the early flight the following day. I opted for the late night flight, however, that meant I would spend the next 12 hours at Schipol Airport! Hmmm…
Luckily, it’s a rather large airport with all kinds of eateries, shops, and plenty of nooks and crannies with a wide variety of comfortable seating options.
I did a lot of walking and even managed to get my 5 miles logged on my pedometer for the day. I also ate 3 meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) in various restaurants and found every comfortable seat I could find, including a nice lounge chair where I was even able to take a nap stretched out!
Finally, as the sun was quickly setting in the west, I was on the plane and headed back to Scotland!
Attitude of Gratitude ~ I am grateful for my innate ability to navigate easily and rely upon my reliable “inner compass.” I am also grateful for my ability to be patient and just ‘go with the flow’ when best-laid plans go awry. I am also extremely grateful for the absolutely wonderful adventures I’ve enjoyed in The Netherlands and the multitudes of fond memories and new friends I’ve made which I will hold dear for years to come. That’s what it’s all about, after all, making memories!