I was tidying up my computer desktop and realised since our weekend trip to Rotterdam in March, I hadn’t had a chance to browse through the photos. As soon as I began, I knew I had to post some up. Starting with our sunny Sunday trip to the windmills of Kinderdijk…
As usual, my dad had sent us one of his cut and paste travel guides, but this time there was an extra special two-page document to try and convince us to spend a day at Kinderdijk, around 15 miles east of Rotterdam. As soon as we saw the words ‘UNESCO’ and ‘windmill,’ we were sold.
It was Easter Sunday, and with a concert to attend in the evening, we were keen to head out early and catch the first waterbus from Rotterdam Erasmusburg.
The waterbus runs regularly and is a good mode of transport. We were travelling off season so the boats were hourly, but between May and September, the boats are a lot more frequent and you can travel to a stop closer to Kinderdijk, Dordrecht Merwekade (click here to check the waterbus timetable). You can buy your tickets on board, relax inside on the plush seating or nip out into the open air and feel the wind and water as you zoom off.
We passed the famous Erasmus bridge, and you’ll spot some lovely buildings on route, look out for Noah’s ark and the lovely mosque!
Once at Alblasserdam there are signs directing you towards Kinderdijk, the walk is a bit of a trek, but its a pleasant one. Although I did feel the same sign saying the windmills were 3.3 km away was repeated a number of times, making the journey feel longer than it maybe was.
Make sure you look out in between the houses on the walk down, the views when you start to get close are really special…
The Alblassserwaard area suffered major floods in the 13th century and even after creating large canals to help be rid of the excess water into the River Lek, the river levels still continued to rise.
The windmills were built to help pump the water into the reservoir and helped to bridge the water level differences. Although some of the windmills are still used, the main water works is carried out by the Wisboom pumping station (Wisboomgemaal) which you will pass on the entrance to the site.
There are nineteen windmills in total, only two are open to visit, but you can walk, cycle or take the hop-on/hop-0ff water taxi round the whole site. From what I read, this is the largest concentration of old windmills in the Netherlands!
The name Kinderdijk actually means ‘Children Dike’ in Dutch. Named after a fairytale from the Saint Elizabeth flood back in 1421. The story is that of a wooden cradle that was seen floating along the waters, a cat was jumping from side to side to try and keep it afloat. When the cradle finally approached the land of the dike, locals found a baby inside, happy and dry. So not only was the area named after this tale, but cats are also protected and honoured in Kinderdijk – my kind of town!!!
Tickets to enter the windmills are available from the little hut just outside, and it’s worth getting to see how it all worked from the inside. The views from the windows are beautiful and it’s nice to look at the setup of how they used to live.
After all that walking, we were definitely ready to eat, and we stopped off at restaurant on the walk back to the boat. Our main reason for choosing Grand Café Buena Vista was for its inviting menu board outside, bit of quirkiness is always appealing!
It was lovely and warm, there was so much to look at and the smells surrounding us were promising. We all ordered a selection of dishes, all good quality but there were some real stand outs – Mo had the cheese and mushroom pancake which filled me with major food envy pangs. We ordered a bowl of cheese fingers for the table which was devoured in seconds. And the poffertjes for dessert!?!? Well it was the first time I tasted poffertjes and frankly I can’t understand why I haven’t been introduced to this magic fluffy mini pancake thing sooner. I don’t normally have a sweet tooth but I actually crave them (I’m craving them right now).
After all that food we were in no state to walk back, luckily there’s a bus stop right opposite the restaurant and it’s a 30 minute drive back to Alblasserdam. Bus driver was helpful and friendly (unlike many who’ve left me behind in the UK). We told him where we needed to get to and he made sure to remind us when we were near.
As we turned the corner after hopping off the bus, our boat was casting off ready to depart, we did make a run for it, but were no way fast enough and found ourselves stranded until the next.
It’s worth noting the boat return times when planning your day, otherwise like us you could be left waiting around an hour. I did have a mini strop for the first five minutes after we missed it (you would too if you just ran as fast as I tried to) but I soon got over it and we actually had a lot of fun sunbathing, taking in the views, singing and dancing in preparation for the evening ahead and just generally enjoying each others company.
All in all, it was probably one of my favourite days of the year, spent with some of my favourite people, definitely worth the Easter Sunday early start!
Have you visited Kinderdijk? What did you think? Do you know of any other windmill sites in the Netherlands that are worth checking out?