Friday, September 20, 2013

Postcards from Holland: INDSIDE a Windmill + Haarlem

Meanwhile, a short twenty minute drive out of Amsterdam...

The first time I was in Holland, I was obsessed with them.  I wanted to drive straight to Kinderdijk where they have 19 of them and, well, I don't know, gawk?  Search for Don Quixote and Sancho?

I never made it to Kinderdijk, but this trip, I get to climb inside a working one.

This is Korenmollen de Zandhaas Santpoort, 234 years old and still standing proudly.  And working!  I love climbing up the windmill especially since it's low-key and not guidebook-material.  There is a small store downstairs where they sell country goods and, well, flour.  I was shocked that we were given permission to go to the very top - without signing a single waiver.  Oh yes.  I'm definitely abroad.  And I like it!

We had to climb about five flights of these very narrow stairs to get to the top.

When we got to the top, the sails of the windmills were in full view.  The floor was made of wooden planks that had gaps that I imagined were wider than my body girth and for the unfounded fear of falling, oh, I don't know, thirty feet, the best photo I could take of the windmill up close was this:
I think I changed my mind about not signing any waivers...

This windmill is within the general vicinity of Haarlem.  Haarlem is another one of those Dutch places dear to me.  A trip to The Netherlands is not complete without a visit to Haarlem.  In America, Haarlem is what you would call a suburb of Amsterdam.  It's much smaller and quieter, but the charm, cobblestone streets and bike and pedestrian-only square is something I never tire of.  If you're considering visiting Amsterdam, I would strongly urge a side trip to Haarlem.  Or why not stay there and commute to Amsterdam instead?  It's a short train ride and would have a more local Dutch vibe.  

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