It’s hard to believe the last time I was wandering the streets of the Netherlands was three years ago when Joey and I had first gotten engaged, but time has a way of escaping us. We are now married and had scarcely returned to Canada from Central America and here we were back on the road, living the nomadic life.
Our plane touched down at the Amsterdam airport on January 9th after a red-eye Icelandair flight from Pearson International in Toronto. We were stiff, hungry and severely jet lagged. By the time we made our way to our home base for the next two weeks, we had been up for a grand total of 36 hours straight. We almost needed toothpicks to keep our heavy eyelids from closing.
Joey and I had a busy schedule ahead of us. For the next few weeks, on top of work, we needed get our ducks in a row for our rapidly approaching tour of Europe and get our family visits in. Amsterdam to Rotterdam to Hengelo… We would drive more in our two week stay than most Dutch folks drive in an entire year.
I was pretty thankful that during our short stay in the Netherlands we found time to visit my all time favourite spot; the Kinderdijk.
If you have never been to the Kinderdijk, they can be described as the collision of nature and Dutch ingenuity. The Netherlands, or as some call it “Low Country,” lies well beneath sea level. If nature were to be allowed to run wild more than 40% of the region would be under the sea. As you can imagine this is a big problem for a country looking to lay its roots and call this neck of the woods home. To combat nature’s water forces; windmills and dykes were invented and unintentionally became an iconic symbol representing the Dutch.
Many years ago, what is now the town of the Kinderdijk, was a peat bog sandwiched between raging rivers and the sea. Settlers who wanted to build homes and farm the fertile swamp lands, began to construct dykes, water barriers, to keep the river and sea water out. The problem; rainwater and groundwater still flooded the inside of the establishment and needed to be removed. The solution; the birth of the first windmill prototype.
Keeping Dutch people’s feet dry since the middle ages, construction of the Kinderdijk began in the 1740’s and some of the windmills still stand strong today. At the height of South Holland’s productivity there were 150 windmills in the Kinderdijk region, now there are only 19 remaining. All 19 mills are still fully functional and on breezy days their blades can be seen in full rotation. It’s a spectacular sight to see an age old invention going strong!
Nowhere in the Netherlands can you find so many windmills so close together in one location. Come for a walk, boat ride or bike on some of the best cycling trails of the country. For €7.00 you can visit the Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage site and learn all about the history of irrigation all the while hearing the clanking of the spinning mills in the background. It’s a pretty relaxing atmosphere! The ambiance of birds, reeds and wide open green spaces is an experience worth relishing.
The Kinderdijk definitely goes down as one of my favorite Dutch destinations ever. There’s something about the place that always makes me smile. You’d have to have een klap van de molen to not to visit this surreal place. A prime example of man working together with wind and water, this UNESCO heritage site, is a tribute to an ancient tradition and has put the Netherlands on the map.
Trying out Stream2Sea's reef-safe sunscreen, lip balm and neck buff in the middle of a Canadian winter.
Canada is home to some of the most pristine and untouched underwater environments on the planet and with that in mind here is a sneak peek at underwater Canada in stunning photographs.
Spending the day walking the streets of Barcelona offers the perfect opportunity to see, feel and learn the local history and architecture in a single day.
Did you know southern France has free roaming Barbary Macaques? Meet, touch and learn all about this endangered species at the Forêt des Singes in Rocamadour.
Famed for its caves, Slovenia's Karst region has some of the most unique underground systems in all of the Balkan countries. Join us as we venture into the heart of the Skocjanske James UNESCO cave.
If you are an adrenaline junkie, who wants to avoid the crowds while traveling in Portugal, head to the Arrábida region of this country and try coasteering, an extreme sport that combines swimming, climbing, and cliff jumping.
Trying to windsurf for the first time is no easy feat but a good place to start is on Spain's Mar Menor a sheltered lagoon well-known for watersports.
Visiting Croatia's beautiful city of Dubrovnik and exploring the Game of Thrones filming locations around old town.
Use this list during your vacation to take yourself to the top 5 most important sites on Zakynthos island!
Take to the water and sail around Santorini, one of Greece's most beautiful volcanic islands.