Sunday was Father’s Day and we didn’t have any plans. As the weather was not hot enough to visit the local pool which we had hoped yet seemed like it was going to be dry, we decided to do something outside and then have lunch. Without a firm plan, we set out towards Dordrecht and had the idea to stop at the UNESCO World Heritage Kinderdijk. Having never been to either place before, it was something new for the family.
Personally I’ve only seen photos of the Kinderdijk windmills on tourist books and thought it was going to be a bit like the Zaanse Schans which we visited 18 or so years ago and at the time I did really like it. I mean it’s still touristy but not the same feel. I will definitely go back there some time – just might wait for out of town visitors.
There was of course giant wooden shoes and smaller ones – both which I asked the kids to take photos. Maebh was sort of off so she didn’t really enjoy them as much as Soren. But I reminded them in 10 years, they’ll look back on these photos and have a good laugh the way they do now with their photos from when they were small. Make the best of them and enjoy them. You are only this little once nothing to be embarrassed about!
And here look at his photo of Nils and I at the Zaanse Schaans – 18 years ago!!!
Now, if you know just ONE thing about the Netherlands and the fact that so much of the country is below sea-level, you know the importance of windmills and their role in the drainage and reclamation of land in the Netherlands. These windmills are workhorses, operated by the millers who call them home. In fact, 15 of the windmills are inhabited and the millers keep them pumping water so the stretch of land under sea level stays dry.
You can read about the full history of the site and windmills online but the oldest one, the Blokweer dates back to 1540 (amazing right). The other 18 windmills which now form the unique Kinderdijk landscape date from 1738 – 1740. As explained online, they were purposely built as part of a drainage system in order to drain the excess water from the area into the river which subsequently drains that water into the sea. Furthermore about the later technology which has since helped assist this process. I’m sure my parents will find this interesting.
When we arrived there was a boat returning so immediately we bought tickets and got onboard. It was nice and I enjoyed it and got some photos, but in hindsight, I should have had the family walk first as afterwards they were hungry and tiredness crept in and they were done and we had to leave. So I insert [eye roll and sign] NEVER got to go inside the two museum windmills, Blokweer and Nederwaard. Well, now that we live here in the Netherlands, we’ll have to make a return trip so I can go inside when we have visitors from out of town. 🙂
Some interesting facts about the windmills of Kinderdijk
- There were originally 20 windmills but now there are only 19.
- Two are museums and you can inside. Museum Windmill Nederwaard is where the Hoek family lived with 13 children! Yes, 13 children! When you go inside you really wonder how they managed to live there with all those kids. The other is called Museum Windmill Blokweer. This is still working and has been turned into a museum which you can explore the downstairs only for safety reasons.
- 15 are inhabited as private residences year round and the rent is cheap but you must work the windmill – nothing for us 🙂
- In the past, the sails of the windmills were used as a means of communication between the millers. The position of the sails indicated if the mills should be operated or whether the millers had taken a break. But they were also used to share news such as birth, marriage or death in a family. On festive occasions, the millers would decorate their windmills with colorful flags too.
- There is a wicker cradle floating in in the water. Legend has it following the great St. Elizabeth Flood of 1421, a basket was spotted floating on the water on one of the inundated canals in the area. The basket was found to be carrying an orphaned infant and a cat who was bouncing from side to side in an effort to keep the cradle balanced while protecting the baby inside. The local legend became a modern fairy tale and is what gave the village of Kinderdijk its name. As we were on the boat we saw a large wicker cradle in the water and I missed getting photo of it, but here is one I found online.
ADMISSION COSTS: You can walk in for FREE and walk along the pavement (easy for strollers, wheelchairs, kids kick scooters and bikes (which you can rent a few places nearby) if you don’t have your own. You can pay a about 7 EUR for entry into the two museum windmills and the visitor centre. There are two boat options: the Canal Hopper – which stops at all the main sights of the area. Or you can take a regular boat – Canal Cruiser – for the scenic ride. We did the Cruiser which goes a bit further than the Hopper, but it doesn’t stop along the way. There is no audio but about half way a tour guide sits up the front and explains in English or Nederlands all about the site, the mills, history, etc. Total cost for the four of us as 17 EUR.
GETTING THERE & PARKING: Just as you are coming into town there is a large free parking lot on the left – where you can park and walk about 10 minutes to the site. Or you can drive down and see if you can find a spot near the entrance for a fee of 5. EUR but the lot was full when we were leaving so I think the walk is easy enough.
Another way to get there is to take the ferry (aka) Waterbus from Rotterdam which stops opposite the entrance. Note: 8 EUR , cash only and a fun way to travel from Rotterdam!
Overall I was nice ,… but again, I wish we did visit inside the windmills and did a bit of walking so I would go back and visit again.
Once we left here, with hungry bellies to feed we headed to Dordrecht for a meal. We ended up at ShabuShabu where we had all-you-can-eat sushi as despite the name, they do NOT serve shabu shabu (grrrr). We’ll certainly be eating Shabu Shabu during our trip to Boston!!!
My first impression of the city of Dordrecht was that it was a lovely city…full of pretty buildings. It was raining when we left the car park so I didn’t bother taking my camera so all photos are from an iPhone. We didn’t see too much, a pub, sushi restuarant so we’d like to come back and explore more in the future.
It’s nice in that it is on the water in fact where three rivers connect so loads of pretty picture spots. We will definitely come back to visit and explore more.
Here is a collection of photos taken … the buildings where unique and many were super old and crooked – full of character!!