Goofy's Houseboat

Amsterdam, Netherlands

I have posted a number of images this past year from Disney World. We visited there this past February for the first time in over 15 years. It looks like the time between visits is dramatically shortening as we are headed back there today for a little over a week. I was going to dig out a photo to post from Disney for today's post until I remembered this surprise that we spotted on a canal in Amsterdam. After visiting the Anne Frank House, we walked along the canal looking at the numerous houseboats. These houseboats are common due to the cost of owning real estate in the city. Ironically, they are now very expensive because of the limited number of moorings. This one, in particular, brought smiles to our faces. It seems that wherever you go, Goofy and Disney are not far behind. I will not be posting on the blog for the next week and a half while I am away. I will try to catch up upon my return.

Reflections of the Netherlands

Zaanse Schans, Netherlands

Our visit to Zaanse Schans, an open air conservation area and museum just outside of Amsterdam, was intended as a visit to see the six working windmills that are situated there along the banks of the Zaan River. After parking after our drive from Amsterdam, we walked to the entrance and discovered this scene of some of the houses and their reflections. We found out that Zaanse Schans is actually a small village complete with wonderful little houses, small museums, shops and restaurants. It was a beautiful time to spend the morning taking in the Netherlands countryside.

Canal View

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Every time I visit Europe, I am always surprised how prevalent canals are in many of its cities. This is very unlike the majority of cities here in the United States. The canals give each city a unique feel and character. This is particularly true of Amsterdam which is know as the "Venice of the North". Amsterdam has over 60 miles of canals, 90 islands and approximately 1,500 bridges. While this obvious comparison to Venice is only natural, I found that the architecture of each city differentiated itself from the other. There were times, however, when I turned a corner and wouldn't have known whether I was in Amsterdam or Venice. This image of an Amsterdam canal is such an example. Maybe it is the architecture, the light or something else, but this scene screamed Venice to me.

Ancient Drainage

Kinderdijk, Netherlands

The first stop on our recent river cruise was to Kinderdijk, Netherlands. Kinderdijk is located in a polder at the the meeting of the Lek and Noord rivers. After docking, we headed to the Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout. This attraction is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and consists of 19 windmills that were built around 1740. The reason these windmills were built was to reclaim the land from the water thus creating the polder. Before visiting the Netherlands, I hadn't realized that 27% of its land mass is below sea level and how much land has been reclaimed from the sea. It seems amazing to me that about 250 years ago, someone came up with the idea of building these windmills to reclaim land. This is an image of one of the windmills at the the Mill Network. The river is to the right of this windmill and I was standing in front of another windmill. I really liked this composition as it shows some of the reclaimed land.

Windmill Relics

Zaanse Schans, Netherlands

Wow, I can't believe that it has been over three weeks since I last posted. Between the Labor Day weekend, two fantasy football drafts and a two week vacation to Europe, there has been little time and very limited internet access to post. But now I am back and raring to go. Our trip to Europe consisted of a river cruise from Amsterdam to Lucerne along the Rhine River. Being veterans of ocean cruising, it was a nice change to see Europe in a more relaxed fashion. Our first stop was in the Netherlands. When one thinks of the Netherlands, windmills and tulips are the first things that come to mind. I had visions of seeing windmills everywhere along the countryside but learned that windmills are quickly becoming relics. At their peak, there were over 10,000 windmills in the Netherlands. Today there are only about 1,000 still standing with many no longer working.

In order to see some real, working windmills, we took a tour outside of Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans, an open air conservation area and museum. There along the banks of the Zaan River, the museum has six working windmills where there used to be more than 1,000. This image shows three of them (left to right), "De Zoeke"'(an oil mill built in 1672); "De Bonte Hen" (an oil mill built in 1693) and the youngster of the group, "De Gekroonde Poelenburg" (a saw mill built in 1869).