Monday, April 17, 2017

Rotterdam The Netherlands

     Our Easter week end was taken up with two very Dutch activities. On Holy Saturday we spent the day in the Keukenhof Gardens, the premier place to see tulips and other spring bulbs. On Easter Sunday we went to visit one of the few places in Holland where the windmills have been preserved as they were in 1740 and where they are still working.
     These places are close to Rotterdam. We reached Rotterdam from Middleburg via a zigzag course of canals, traversing the Oosterschelde, and entering the Rhine River. Rotterdam lies at the mouth of the Rhine and Maas Rivers. It was named for the 13th Century dam built on the Rotte River. Rotterdam is an amazingly modern city. It was almost totally destroyed during WWII. When it came time to rebuild the city the Dutch decided to make modern buildings and use many different styles of architecture. The strangest was the cube apartment building where each apartment was a cube on end. I have no idea how they put it all together and what it would be like to live in one of those units with the slanty walls.
Don at the Keukenhof Gardens
     We went by bus to the Keukenhof Gardens. These were the kitchen gardens for a castle in the 15th century. They evolved into a park with large trees and other plants. In 1949 twenty bulb growers decided to use it to showcase their spring flower bulbs. It is open to the public 8 weeks a year when the bulbs are blooming and is really quite spectacular. We saw fields of tulips, hibiscus, daffodils, crocus, lilies, and iris. Five pavilions showcased these flowers in addition to orchids and roses.
     The Kinderdijk was very interesting. About 1/3 of The Netherlands is below sea level. The windmills were used to pump water from the land into the rivers. As the land sank, they needed to use more than one windmill to lift the water into boezems (water storage basins) from one height to another. The land reclaimed by this process is called a polder. At Kinderdijk they had 19 windmills preserved to carry this out. We were able to go into one windmill to see how the family lived in the one small room at the base of the windmill. We saw how the “sails” were moved and that the position of the sails was used to communicate among the millers.

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