It isn’t often that you visit an incredibly popular tourist attraction and find an afternoon of peace. The Kinderdijk Windmills were designated a UNESCO world heritage site and I was visiting for the heritage – but what I hadn’t counted on was glorious sunshine and a quiet fishermans nook to spend an afternoon in.
Kinderdijk is situated in the Alblasserwaard polder at the coming together of the Lek and Noord rivers. To drain the polder, a system of 19 windmills was built around 1740. This group of mills is the largest concentration of old windmills in the Netherlands.
The postcard picture perfect Kinderdijk is about 9 miles outside of Rotterdam, so I hopped onto the ferry from central Rotterdam (in summer you catch the hourly 202 Waterbus from the Rotterdam, Erasmusbrug terminal) and enjoyed the 40-minute direct ride along the river with a coffee and a croissant in hand.
There is a tiny, delicious bakery a 3-minute walk from the terminal called Jan Bussing Boulangerie Traditionnelle – a fourth generation family-run bakery since 1899 – that you can grab breakfast from. [The address is Van Vollenhovenstraat 48a – and they bemusedly speak English, better than I could pre-caffeine.]
It was a busy ferry – a boatload (excuse the nautical pun) of tourists and I – that glided along the river, all tumbling out to the Kinderdijk site, right across from the Kinderdijk ferry terminal.
It’s free to visit if you don’t want to visit the museums (I wasn’t sure that I wanted to) so I grabbed a bottled of cool water and wandered along the pathways. There are a couple of cafes stocked with basic lunch stuff and ice creams at the entrance, and of course you can buy your weight in tourist clogs.
Locals bring their bikes to explore the waterways and pathways, but I decided to stick to the wai-wai express – that’s my own feet for the non-Maori speakers.
I wandered, skyped the family back in the UK and wandered a little more until I came to a little fisherman’s platform. Fellow tourists snapped their way along the pathways and groups of chattering locals whistled along the paths on their bikes with nary a care in the world.
Whilst they did that, I was quite content in my little corner, enjoying the sunshine and the reflections of my chosen windmill.
This one. This is the one of the nineteen I’ve chosen for my own. (Don’t worry, I didn’t actually steal the digger and take the windmill home – it didn’t fit in my suitcase for one, and if I took home everything I’d claimed over the years, my home would contain a waddle [collective noun] of penguins, several planes, an alpine lake and several churches to name but a few items.)
And you know this had to happen along with an ice cream.
The site is busy, even on a week day that was forecast with rain.
I could definitely see how the sustainable blend of nature and technology used to keep Kinderdijk dry is so uniquely valuable that the area and its windmills were granted UNESCO World Heritage status.