"" Writer's Wanderings: The Netherlands--Windmills

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Netherlands--Windmills

In blowing rain that was at times horizontal, we made our way to Central Station in Amsterdam and took an early train to Koog-Zaandijk. (We showed the name printed in our travel guide to the ticket seller. No way could we pronounce it.) By the time we arrived, the rain had slowed and showed promise of stopping.
Following the posted signs to the ferry to Zaanse Schans, we made our way through the town and down an alley to where we boarded a barge-like ferry to the open air museum where there are a half dozen working windmills from an early industrial era. It is said that this is the oldest industrial area in the world.

The museum area is actually inhabited by people much like the Williamsburg area in Virginia. Gardens with bridges crossing over small irrigation canals surrounded quaint little homes. It is like a picture out of the impressionists’ gallery of paintings.

Since it was still raining, we opted to explore the Zaanse museum and the Verkade Pavilion. The museum highlights the building of the industrial era from the 1600s on. Most of it was in Dutch but we were able to figure out a good deal of it. The Verkade Pavilion was the truly fun place with a mini chocolate factory and a biscuit (cookie) making machine. The Verkade company has been in business over 100 years making biscuits and chocolates.

Outside, the sun broke through and the rain stopped. We opted for a tour of the saw mill that was run by wind power. (One windmill tour was included with our museum ticket). A video showed the restoration of the windmill in 2007. Amazing how all the parts come together to be powered only by the wind. The saw blades alternated between a relatively fast pace and almost stopped as the wind gusted and then stopped as well. One ten foot timber was estimated to be cut into planks in about 2 ½ hours that day. Imagine waiting on wood for a home at that rate!

As the afternoon progressed, we realized we were downwind from a cocoa factory. I was practically drooling by the time we were ready to leave.

We got some wonderful pictures of cows, sheep, and windmills and hurried off to catch the ferry and train back. We wanted to take a little side trip to Haarlem. There we hoped to make it in time for the last tour of the Corrie Ten Boom house.

Other posts from the Netherlands:
Amsterdam, City of Canals
Anne Frank House
Historic Triangle
Corrie Ten Boom House

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