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I’m so excited to share about our day trip to Kinderdijk, Netherlands. This past summer we spent several weeks living in Geilenkirchen, Germany (GK). We chose GK because my grandfather lived near there for many years. It is centrally located to several other towns that we wanted to visit. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be doing a series of posts on our time over there. Hands down our favorite city was Kinderdijk, Netherlands. Like Gouda, it is the perfect day trip from GK as well.
Most people know about Kinderdijk because of the large wooden windmills. It is one of the most famous places in the Netherlands to see the windmills. There are a total of 19 windmills in the small town. Kinderdijk literally means children’s dike because of a tale that is still told today. In the story the area flooded many years ago, killing several people. However, a baby girl survived because she floated in her bassinet, balanced by a cat. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kinderdijk is completely below sea level like the rest of the Netherlands, therefore flooding used to be a huge problem. They built most of the windmills in the late 1700’s, (however the oldest was built in the 1500s) to help with water management. The Dutch are known for their groundbreaking technology in water management actually. Now they use electric power for the job of the windmills, but it is impressive to see what they could do in the 1700s.
I wanted to see the windmills for years. My grandfather gave my mom a beautiful wooden windmill years ago, which sparked my interest in seeing them. From GK it took approximately 2 hours, making it an easy day trip. Several of the river cruises have a stop there. From Rotterdam it is a quick hop, they have a ferry, a bus, or Uber. Amsterdam is roughly an hour away, you can drive, take the train to Rotterdam, and then use one of the previously mentioned methods. We drove into the city, it is a beautiful drive from Germany. As you drive into the city, immediately you will see the windmills out your windows. Once you are there you can rent bikes (this must be done in town), walk, or take a boat. We are not avid bike riders, and the roads were very narrow in places. Immediately, I envisioned my children being hit by a car, therefore no bike rentals for us. Seriously, we are not coordinated people.
We purchased boat tickets thinking it took you further than it did. However, it was a waste of money for our family. The boat tickets are approximately 5 Euros a piece. If you enjoy walking like we do, just enjoy the stroll. If you want to go further, get some bikes, be forewarned though, you have to book them in town. I highly recommend watching the video to learn the history behind the windmills. It is in Dutch, but they offer English subtitles. If you pay for the tour you gain access inside the windmills too.
If you are physically disabled or unable to climb ladders you will not be able to go inside of them. Unfortunately, you have to climb a ladder and come down backwards. It can also get quite crowded inside of the windmills, but I definitely recommend it. My kids loved running down the path towards the windmills, they are much larger in person, and quite literally they took my breath away. Our kids loved seeing how the former families lived, we learned a lot of history about the families. One family had 31 children! While the outside of the windmill is huge, the inside isn’t that big because of the gears. My husband and I had to hunch over inside because of the incredibly low ceilings. Can you imagine 33 people living inside such small quarters? I can’t even imagine living with 31 children in my house! One lady looked at me and said, “Clearly these people had way too much time on their hands.”
For the Kids
My kids’ favorite part was the hands on experience at one of the windmills. They have an old fashioned washing machine. Somehow, I cannot get my kids to do laundry at home, but they pretended to wash several items here. They also have farm animals they loved on, a beautiful garden, and a shed. The miller was gracious enough to allow us to come behind the fence, and my husband asked him a million and one questions. He explained to us the dynamics of the windmill, how they can slow the blades down, stop them, and turn them. Another favorite part for everyone was trying on clogs. I have no idea how they work in those shoes, they are not the most comfortable. I can’t even imagine trying to run in those shoes. Although all the employees we met wore a pair.
Food for Celiacs
We found that most of the gas stations had wonderful picnic items. We grabbed delicious salads for my husband and myself that were gluten free. My older two (non celiac kids) ate sandwiches they’d picked out, while my little minion, who has celiacs, picked out some cheese, salami, and veggies. We enjoyed a picnic on a hill overlooking the windmills.
If you have a chance to visit Kinderdijk, I highly recommend it. It was a family favorite because of its charm and history. It’s a quick trip from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Brussels, and so many other great places in Europe making it the perfect day trip.