This is our last year here in Germany and our last chance to see the tulips at Keukenhof, so we decided to take a quick weekend trip to Holland!
We left early Friday morning and drove the 5 hours to Kinderdijk to see some of the last preserved windmills in the Netherlands. Kinderdijk is a UNESCO World Heritage site and contains 19 working windmills that date back to the 1730s. We learned a lot about what exactly the windmills were (and are) used for, the lives of the millers that lived in and worked on them, and even the various “languages” that they used with the sails of the windmills. It truly was fascinating to learn about them. Such a feat of engineering during that time! Rain and wind cut our stay shorter than we had liked, but we still got to tour inside one of the windmills and walk along the canal.
The stairs were very steep! There were about five levels in the windmill. It was getting fairly crowded, which made moving around a little challenging. The large wooden beam my son is standing by in the picture above rotated as the sails moved.
There was an area of the gardens that is enclosed and full of various arrangements of the cut flowers from the gardens.
They have a couple of cafeteria-type restaurants in the gardens. We ate at one for lunch and the food was great. And when I say cafeteria, I’m talking European style. Like this mackerel salad I had:
Yeah, it was delish. At the end of our stay we got some frozen yogurt and sat to watch the ducks. Funny, when we asked the lady at the fro-yo counter if they had chocolate she laughed and said, “Uh, no….this is frozen YOGURT.” Haha, this was definitely real fro-yo, but you could enjoy many different toppings such as shaved chocolate, sweet tarts, nuts and a variety of others.
Next to the little pond is a huge Dutch barrel organ called the Adriaen that plays the oldies! It is gorgeous!
As we sat and listened to it play “Runaway” by Del Shannon I just couldn’t help but think of my mom. So this one’s for you, mama!
CLARA MARIA CHEESE AND CLOG FACTORY
After Keukenhof we made our way over to Clara Maria, a small family-owned farm that runs a cheese and wooden shoe factory. What a cool place! We were able to see a demonstration of how they carve wooden shoes and listen to a man tell us how they make gouda cheese. Then we were able to peruse their gift shop. Of course, we had to buy some cheese and clogs!
After Clara Maria we finally made it into Amsterdam. We drove into downtown Amsterdam, which really wasn’t the plan, but once you make it in, there is no backing down. Driving in Amsterdam is, uh, stressful/insane/a totally bad idea. I knew that, and we had planned to park and ride, but we somehow just wound up downtown. When you are not used to bike lanes and trolleys and a million people, it can be overwhelming. My husband powered through and found us a parking spot along one of the canals. We began walking and made it to the I AMSTERDAM sign to take a pic (along with a billion other people….yes, I am totally over-exaggerating all of my large numbers in this post). I KNOW, I KNOW, why in the heck would I do the ultimate touristy thing?! I dunno…because I’m a tourist? Of course, I had grand ideas of having the sign to myself, but alas:
The sign is in there somewhere.
So I love this city. Like L-O-V-E love it. We only saw a smidge, but it was pretty awesome. Right as you go through the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam’s museum of art and history) you enter a huge square. This is where the sign is as well as….what do you know….a big playground, a basketball court (although this looked temporary), food, even a Scottish bagpiper was there playing Scotland the Brave! The Van Gogh Museum is also in this square, which I wanted to go to SO badly, but my youngest just doesn’t do museums and we were pressed for time, so we had to pass. Next time! We let the kids play for a bit, ate some amazzzing waffles (sorry, Belgium, but the Netherlands has better waffles than you), and then headed toward the canals to get to Anne Frank’s house.
We did not expect to get into Anne Frank’s house. We knew the lines would be long, and we didn’t really think our three year old would last. So we just got a pic of the outside and her statue that is out front of the building. It was still neat to be there, even if it was completely crowded.
Although we didn’t get to experience the city much, I still loved being there. The lines of houseboats were so interesting to me. Some were filled to the brim with plants, some had picnic tables on top, others were sleek and modern-looking. And the leaning buildings were also pretty fascinating. My oldest son thought they were very cool, along with the hooks on the top for pulleys.
Now I must unpack and then repack for our Baltic cruise in four days! ACK! Stay tuned for more travel posts in the near future!