Our first morning on board Viking Bragi started with a hearty breakfast and then a very short walk off the boat to the little village of Kinderdijk.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, there are only 28 windmills remaining in the area where 150 once stood – 19 are in Kinderdijk. Built in 1738, they are all operational; although only one, open to the public, operates continuously. The rest are actually residences of certified millers and they have a duty to maintain and turn them so many times per year.
Our tour guide, one of a host of volunteers, was wonderfully informative with a great sense of humour.
Our second trip in a couple of years, Tony and I couldn’t help but return to the amazing Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museums. We spent a whole day viewing spectacular masterpieces and could have gone back for more. Rembrandt, Vermeer, Steen, etc. are local heroes and the Rijksmuseum has a fabulous collection of each of them but they have also amassed a huge number of other great artists. Since I took a huge number of pictures of paintings the last time we were here, I took only one this time – that of a beautiful Newfoundland dog by Otto Eerleman. Outside the gate to the museum was a wonderful trio playing classical music. As for Van Gogh, I just can’t get enough of his work and the excellent collection was curated this time with those of artists who influenced him, as well as those whom he influenced. Fascinating!
The next day we went to Haarlem, a 20 minute train ride west of Amsterdam. It’s a beautiful historic city of cobblestone streets, medieval churches, and almshouses. Here we wandered throughout the centre core, enjoying the Saturday markets, the interior of the oldest church, and the ambience of families enjoying their day off. We visited the Corrie Ten Boom house, restored to perfectly illustrate the way that families (Jewish and Christians alike) were hidden during WWII. We had lunch in a church converted into a brewery and Tony enjoyed a flight of 3 different Dutch beer (a happy man)!
We took the train back to Amsterdam, pulled our suitcases out of the lockers in the station, and walked to our longship on the quay outside. On to a new adventure on the water.
We spent over five hours wandering through this amazing museum….what a delight! I “met” a number of artists that we’re new to me as well as many old favourites.
Amsterdam is obviously not at its best on a blustery, wet day but the architecture is so beautiful that it nonetheless captured my heart . The uneven roof tops, some peaked and others rounded, over blocks of row houses that seem to bend at the seams have such character that they shine through the grey December skies. I loved the myriad of houseboats parked end to end along the canals – especially the one that loudly pronounced the owners’ predilection for the ‘fruit of the vine’!
The Red Light District, a fantasy from my youth, lived up to its name in more ways than one but it was still a shock to see quite how explicit the ladies are in their promotional activities!
Each time we stepped into the street from our hotel, just a block from Central Station, a sweet smell wafted through the air…oh how amazing that it is so freely available. I wonder if Canada will go this route anytime soon?