The Viking Tor cast off from Cologne for Kinderdijk, Netherlands at 11:00 Thursday night. In the morning we were cruising through the beautiful and peaceful landscape of the Netherlands.
Mark and I bundled up in towels that doubled as blankets on the top deck
as we sailed through pastoral scenes with cows grazing or
sunbathing on the sandy beaches beside the river.
Sheep relaxed and fed on the verdant river banks while farmers worked in the distance.
We passed by cities where the river provides recreation for the human species.
It wasn’t long before we spotted our first real-life Netherlands windmill in a rural area
and then another near a residential area.
All that sitting, cruising, and watching the world go by generated a healthy appetite, and a bit of a thirst. It really doesn’t get a lot better than this—lunch on the top deck of the Viking Tor.
We floated past a miniature replica of Noah’s Ark, complete with a giraffe look-out.
At 3:45 we arrived in Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for our 4:30 tour.
Kinderdijk is a village that has 19 windmills dating from the 1500s. (http://www.kinderdijk.org/ ) They were built to help with water control in this peat region of Holland. The cultivation of peat changed the drainage of the region and resulted in the farmlands lying below the level of the streams that had previously drained the peat. Dikes were built and canals were dug to prevent flooding of the land. The windmills were added a few centuries later as the drained soil settled and the river rose due to sand deposits. The windmills pumped water into a reservoir where it could eventually be pumped out into the river whenever the level was low enough due to seasonal and tidal variations. Today most of the work is done by diesel pumping stations. (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/818 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinderdijk)
Our tour included an inside look at an operating windmill. This is a view out of a window on an upper floor.
We climbed a narrow, winding stairway to the very top where we were able to see the massive gears that basically turn the wind into energy.
The windmills were not rotating during our visit. I don’t know if that was due to lack of wind, or the fact that they were anchored or tied in place. They can be dangerous, and have been responsible for injury and even deaths for the unwary adult, child, or perhaps unsuspecting tourist who wandered into their path when they were fast at work. They are powerful and, like lighthouses, are the stuff of legends. You can feel it in their presence.
On this, our last evening of the cruise, we joined the ship’s captain and crew in the lounge for the Captain’s Cocktail followed by the Farewell Reception and Dinner. In the morning we would be in Amsterdam. Although we could have arranged an extension of the cruise in Amsterdam through Viking, Mark and I decided to stay in Amsterdam a couple of nights, but made the arrangements on our own.
Next up – Review of the Viking River Cruise from Basel to Amsterdam
See links to other posts about the Basel to Amsterdam Viking River Cruise.