Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Netherlands - Visits to the Zaan and the Keukenhof

The Zaan and the Keukenhof

One of the places we had the opportunity to visit was De Zaanse Schans, an area just north of Amsterdam along the River Zaan. Historically, the people who lived along here in the 1600's developed the area by building lots of windmills. These mills processed spices, rice, paper, tobacco, milled wood and lots of other products therewith creating the first industrial region in the world.

Today, of the original 1,000 mills, only about a dozen of the Zaan windmills remain. We had a chance to see how the windmills worked and transferred the power of the wind to power large, wooden gears inside the windmill. The horizontal motion of the blades is converted to vertical rotary motion by the gears which then powers the machinery at the ground floor of the mill.

Maarten, Erika, and George at the top platform of one of the wind mills.

The Keukenhof.

With nearly 80 acres of flowers, the Keukenhof is an impressive and colorful flower garden attraction. Just south of Amsterdam, the garden is known for its tulips. But they also grow orchids, lilies, hyacinths, narcissus and many other varieties of flowers. Although we weren't there at the right time to see the huge fields of tulips, there were plenty of gardens to appreciate.