Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On a Bike in Kinderdijk - Part I

“I was born in that windmill over there, but now I live in this one here with my wife and two children,” said the ruggedly handsome, middle-aged man leaning against the 300-year-old stone windmill tower, unnervingly close to its rapidly spinning blades.  Stopping to chat with this wooden-shoed Dutchman who had spent his entire life in the desolate, windswept grasslands of the polder that is Kinderdijk was one of the highlights of our visit to The Netherlands last summer.

“I almost married another girl I knew before my wife, but she didn’t want to live in a windmill,” he added.

Our brief conversation with this village local bestowed priceless cultural insight not only to me, who can’t possibly imagine raising children in a confined and ferociously churning windmill with propelling death-blades outside the front door, but to my children, who couldn’t imagine living in such isolated, rural surroundings.  What a treasure this day was for our family.

Our visit to Kinderdijk, the quintessential Dutch windmill town with scenery right out of a van Ruisdael painting, was marvelous in every way.  There are few spots as scenic as this area with 19 windmills, built hundreds of years ago to drain the water from the land, surrounded by grazing herds of cows, sheep, and goats along the quiet rivers.  And the most striking thing about this several mile stretch of reclaimed land is that there are no restaurants, no souvenir shops, no vendors, no hotels - just a bike path.

And we were on that beautiful bike path all day.  We had rented bikes in Rotterdam and rode the easy 9 miles from there to Kinderdijk.  More on that tomorrow.


  1. Isn't Kinderdijk great?! To bad we didn't "know" each other last summer.

  2. This was one of my best memories of the Netherlands-I'm hoping to do a biking tour there next summer! Can't wait to see your next entry.

  3. I can't wait until my kids are old enough to do some real traveling... or I get really brave and fly off with too todlers!


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