|We left dock just before midnight last night (I’m told), and the ride was smooth enough. We “sailed” until 7:00 a.m. when we docked at Kinderdijk, Netherlands, where today’s excursion was located. We caught an early breakfast and reported to our bike excursion at 8:30. We did a two-hour bike tour of the 19 windmills in the area. These windmills form a UNESCO World Heritage Site and have functioned here since about 1740, and one actually from the mid 1600s. The mills work to manage the water levels in the area, moving water through a series of small canals and sluices as needed. The windmills drive scoops that lift the water about a meter or two at a time. We toured a working windmill and the associated farm. Apart from the brief walking tours, we rode maybe three quarters of the time, at a very leisurely pace, and probably covered 10-15 miles, circling and winding over a fairly small area within the cluster of windmills. The area was dense with wildlife - ducks, geese, cows, and goats, sheep, ponies, herons, etc. I saw two separate parades of a Momma Duck with several ducklings in tow, and it was hilarious watching them try to climb out of the pond onto the grass. The little fellas kept falling backwards into the water. I’m sure they’ll make it eventually. In a related vein, the name Kinderdijk (or child dike) derives from a fable of an infant who fell adrift into a local stream (reminiscent of Baby Moses?) and was saved by a bird who straddled the floating bundle to keep it from foundering until the baby settled safely upon a dike. The setting was bucolic and oh so charming. Kathy, in relating the ride to a shipmate later, said she rode with an ear-to-ear grin the entire time, and that captured my sentiment as well. In spite of the chill and off and on drizzle, we were very sad to see the time end. Our bike leader was a local resident, a delightful young woman who had finished her masters degree in Communications in the last year and was recharging her batteries while helping her brother launch his bike rentals business.
We met up for lunch with new friends from last night then enjoyed a quiet afternoon that included two naps. Between the naps we did the ship-wide safety drill and also squeezed in a tour of the ship’s Wheelhouse. The Captain noted they no longer have “wheels,” just one “joy stick,” and suggested to his superiors they rename the facility the Joy House. He was not optimistic that change would be adopted.
We enjoyed a couple of trips up to the sun deck where it was cool and breezy. One highlight was seeing a herd of 15-20 horses galloping along the shore. Even from a hundred yards away they looked magnificent.
Our dinner group were friendly as usual. Four of the other 6 were new to us. Kathy and I, incredibly, are among the youngest passengers aboard. While the group is very diverse geographically, we all seem to have very similar interests and life experiences. Talking with people is easy and comfortable. What fun.