Amsterdam IV: Windmills & Such

The two of us in fromt of IJsselmeer – a gigantic freshwater lake.

Next on our bus tour, we went to Afsluitdijk (the Great Enclosing Dike). This mammoth thing was thought up in 1891, and built from 1927 to 1933. It blocked off the Zuiderzee (South Sea) from the Waddenzee (Wadden Sea). The Zuiderzee covered a lot of what could be arable land in about 5 meters of salt water, and often flooded the lowlands beyond, making life in these areas less stable and safe than most would have liked.

So they built the enclosing dike, drained the Zuiderzee, and made some polders, and the freshwater rivers that dump slowly into the area made the rest of the area a large freshwater lake: the Ijeelmeer. It is the largest lake in Western Europe – and having never seen a Great Lake, I was suitably impressed.

On the left is Ijeelsmeer, freshwater, and on the right Waddenzee, saltwater. You can see the monument to Cornelius Lely, who engineered the Afsluitdijk but didn’t live to see it completed.

This whole process, while an improvement for the Netherlands, but a lot of fisherman out of work, and therefore endangered the future of some villages. One such village was Medemblik. In response, they became a tourist town, eventually carting in a windmill, once the use of them was replaced by electric pump and they were being destroyed en masse. So, the next stop on the tour was Medemblik.

There are two millers that work at the windmill, and they apparently each have their own name for this goat. Maybe that’s why he looks so confused.
When we arrive the miller got the windmill turned into the wind (by manpower) and started, then added bits of sail to make it go faster.

The windmill actually went startlingly fast, and our tourguide/miller told us that wasn’t even a decent enough clip for milling. The center post, call the king, was a single, solid piece of wood was 2ft by ft and at least 30 ft tall. Huge piece of wood, and basically irreplaceable. Our tourguide told us of another windmill operator who has tried to set in the machine while the windmill was already going, and it stopped the king short, breaking it. Since there isn’t really any modern-day equivalent, that was the end of the functioning life of that windmill.

No picture could suffice, but this thing was jamming along.
A shot from the rear.

While on an unnecessarily long stopover in Medemblik (so we’d spend money to keep the town afloat?), we tried the infamous Hollandse Nieuwe Haring – raw, slightly pickled herring served with pickles and onions. It was actually delicious.While on an unnecessarily long stopover in Medemblik (so we’d spend money to keep the town afloat?), we tried the infamous Hollandse Nieuwe Haring – raw, slightly pickled herring served with pickles and onions. It was actually delicious.

Adam and the haring.
Next up was the windmill village of Zaanse Schans, where examples of the different types of windmills were gathered for preservation and tourism after they fell out of use.
We saw a brief, fairly commercial demonstration about famous Dutch cheese.

We saw a brief, fairly commercial demonstration about famous Dutch cheese. Then we headed over to the clog mini-museum/demonstration space/clog store. Okay, mostly clog store. Another quick demonstration. The rise of clogs in Holland was due to their waterproof, heavy duty nature. Some people apparently still wear them today for those very reasons. There were some very neat ones in the mini-museum part of the clog shop. (We did give in and buy some pricey cheese, but we abstained from the clogs.)

Our demo wasn’t bad, per se, but it was with modern machinery, so it wasn’t very historical.
Ornate wedding clogs.
A modern twist, tuxedo clogs.
Roller-clogs.
Thief’s clogs – note that the toe and heel are carved opposite of the way the shoes are actually worn – for laying false trails.
One last look at the windmill village, then it’s back to Amsterdam.
And back to alllll those bikes.

That’s it for this installment!

Dinner at Restaraunt Reflet.

emily

Nerd. Foodie. Gamer. Homecook. Perpetual planner. Gardener. Aspiring homesteader. Direct response graphic designer. I use too many damn commas.

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