"" Writer's Wanderings: Old Town Delft and Kinderdijk Windmills

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Old Town Delft and Kinderdijk Windmills

 After our tour through the Royal Delft Museum and workshop our bus took us into the historic area of Delft and our tour guide led  us into the old town. Like most towns in the Netherlands, Delft also had canals and lots of bicycles. We passed a church where the "parking lot" was full of bikes from those attending service.

Delft was once the seat of the royal house of Orange and the "new church" from the 15th century houses the tombs of past royal family. The "old church" is the burial place of the Dutch Master painter, Johannes Vermeer. You would recognize his most famous painting, the girl with the pearl earring. Our guide pointed out that some are not convinced it's a pearl. Upon closer examination it appears too large and shines a bit like metal. I say it's an artist's interpretation of a pearl. Argument settled? Interesting to note, none of Vermeer's paintings are in the town, only reproductions.

Old church spire

Across the square from the new church is the ornate town hall, beautiful architectural building. The town square was filled with market stalls mostly like a craft market would be back home and included some interesting food stalls as well. One which was making poffertjes, the little pancakes we'd had the day before in Veere. It was fascinating watching him make them, turning them quickly and then dishing them out. The grill must have been really hot. 

It was then free time, time for us to find a place to eat lunch on our own. We found a restaurant right on the square that had a sheltered outdoor space and ducked in there. Our waitress came to the table and rattled off something in her language and I responded with "please?" 

New church

"Oh," she said, "you guys speak English." It was perfectly spoken and I thought she was American living in Delft and going to school there. Nope. Turned out she learned all her English/American phrases from the students she hung out with including exclamations like, "Oh my god! It's so good!" I told her she would do quite well should she visit the States.

We both ordered tuna sandwiches and an an order of fries to split between us (their orders are fairly large). Our sandwiches came with some assembly necessary. They were open faced with small pieces of romaine lettuce cradling three scoops of tuna salad and dotted with cherry tomato halves. It was all very pretty but there was no way to put it together to make a sandwich and get it into our mouths to bite. The bread was tasty but quite thick. We knife and forked it and surprisingly managed to eat it all. 

When in Belgium or the Netherlands, there is more than likely a charge for the restroom facility or WC. It's usually a Euro or fifty cents unless you've eaten in the restaurant or cafe. We used the facility knowing there might not be another for a while.

Town hall

After a little walk around the craft markets we met our guide for the walk back to our bus and our trip to the Kinderdijk windmills. The weather was turning on us. It did not look promising. Were we going to have to use those umbrellas in Bob's backpack?

Our bus ride to the Kinderdijk was about 45 minutes. The skies grew grayer and putting those umbrellas in Bob's backpack were looking like a smart move.

Sure enough as we arrived and entered to see the windmills, a light rain began to fall. It was okay, said our guide as he checked his phone, it would pass while we were in the movie. A hearty Dutchman and an optimist or else he was checking the wrong city.

After a short video that was well done but probably easier to follow if you were a local, we came outside to the same rain. Our guide led us to the boat we were to ride for a boat tour. To our relief it was covered but with the rain falling, it made it difficult to see let alone take any pictures. The boat tour ended up being nothing more than a quick shuttle to the other side of the canal. 

We were given the choice to stay on the boat that would return to the starting point or get off to see the inside of the windmill nearby. We chose the windmill. There were more than a dozen windmills lining the canal and several were working. It seems you could only go into two of them to see the inner workings.

All of us quickly scurried into the windmill and found that the actual working parts of the windmill were up a steep flight of steps. I opted to stay below and have a look at the living quarters where the family who operated the windmill would live. Bob braved the climb up and down.

These windmills we discovered were much different than the others we had visited on our last trip to the Netherlands. Those were industrial, meaning they were used to grind grains. These were the kind of windmills used to pump water to keep it in the canals at a level that would not flood the land. They are still in working condition should the more modern electric run pumps fail. 

I waited anxiously as I watched Bob descend what was more like a ladder than actual steps. Everyone coming down came down backwards. We stood for a few minutes at the door and decided that the best course of action was to raise the umbrella and walk back to the entrance rather than wait on the shuttle. It was coming down a little harder now and the skies were even darker.

We hustled along the walkway and as we neared the entrance, we turned off to go inside a brick building that housed steam pumps or electric. I'm not sure I understood which. They were being renovated. At least it was dry inside and out of the breeze. 

Everyone met at the entrance area that had an overhang to keep us dry as we waited on the bus to return. Most places don't have parking for buses and they are only allowed to stop to load and unload. Sadly we didn't get to walk and see the other windmills and enjoy the landscape but when you travel you cannot always count on perfect weather and we were discovering that the weather in Belgium and the Netherlands could be just like home, unpredictable and changing all the time.

We were pretty wet and cold by the time we arrived at the boat since the bus could not park in front of it and it was raining pretty hard by then. Bless his heart, our cruise manager came out with umbrellas for those who needed them and met us as we got off the bus.

A warm shower, a little rest and we were ready to enjoy dinner and the evening's entertainment. Dinner was wonderful carrot/ginger soup followed by delicious tender rib eye that was cut thin and curled over the top of potatoes and other veggies. The entertainment was a trio, piano, guitar and percussion that performed songs that were very familiar from the 60s and 70s. We managed to stay for most of it but the thought of rest and sleep was too tempting. We retired.

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