No, not more Dutch sex stuff. Windmills and wooden shoes were the order of business for today. After a good night’s sleep for both of us (hooray), we were greeted by a very foggy morning. Hmmmm. We had planned on doing our windmill trip today and didn’t think fog was conducive for it. But, as is true with so many things, a couple of hours spent sitting on our fat behinds contemplating the vagaries of life, took care of the problem and the fog lifted.
Gosh, the Dutch are so efficient. At the train station, we type in the first two letters of our destination into a ticket machine and we are given a screen of options. select the correct town and you are asked a series of questions which culminate in having the appropriate tickets drop into the compartment for your taking. Then, all you have to do is to find the correct platform but even that is easy. Between everyone speaking English and the ease of navigating the transportation system, Holland is a great place to visit.
We ended up in Koog-Zaandijk and were walking to the outdoor “museum” at Zaanse Schanse about 45 minutes after we left our apartment. Zaanse Schanse is a place where many buildings from around Holland have been assembled into a community. There are a number of windmills there as well, which is why we spent the afternoon poking around.
Because it is Sunday, only one of the mills was “running” and by that I mean that the blades/sails of the mill were turning. Nothing was being ground, so the mill wasn’t actually “working.” It would have been interesting to see it work but I was just pleased that it was open. The mill is called “De Kat,” give you one guess to figure out what that means.
The Cat was “created” in 1959 when a millwright combined the top of a dye mill to the bottom of an oil mill to make one “new” mill. The two original mills were from the 1780’s. The exciting thing for me is that the Cat is used to grind dyes and pigments. According to the literature, the Cat “is probably the last windpowered dye mill in the world.” There used to be around 55 dye mills.
We wandered through the mill, which was interesting if only to look at the incredible woodwork of the place. It was amazing. But, the best part happened when we were leaving. As we were passing through the gift shop (of COURSE there is a gift shop), I remarked to the young man behind the counter that I wished there were more pigments that had been ground at the mill available for purchase. The young man said that they had many more colors but that he would have to get the miller to take us to the “special” room to see them. Well, sign us up for that!!
Before you could say “Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates,” we were being led through the door marked “prive” (I think that means “private” and not “privy”) and left to await the arrival of the miller. Piet soon showed up and, after removing his klompen, took us into the pigment room. What a treat. We chatted for thirty or forty minutes about pigments, recipes for making water colors from the pigments, windmills and making the sails for the windmills. We even got to see his 1920 Singer sewing machine that he uses to make windmill sails.
We learned from Piet that although he may not have a lot of money, he is very rich because of his work and his grandchildren (and maybe his kids, too, but they weren’t specifically listed). Of course, Piet was at least 43 euros richer by the time we left but we felt that our money had bought us great value.
After our experience at the Cat, the rest of the visit sort of paled in comparison. We did enjoy the wooden shoe making demonstration, though; and, I almost bought a pair of the suckers but there was no way I was going to go clomping through Tanzania in a pair of klompen.* We did find out that there used to be klompen for horses and specialty klompen for peat workers and betrothal klompen and . . . well, you get the idea. It was quite interesting and I don’t think that’s just because I am a Vanderbilt!
*Plus, I already have a vintage pair of klompen. In 1971, after our time backpacking in Europe, my sister, Cathy, schlepped a pair of them home for our dad. When we cleaned out the house last spring, I claimed the klompen and I use them regularly to get the mail.