Andrew and I had to get up super early to catch the first tube to Heathrow Airport this morning which was at 5:28am. Our flight to Rotterdam was at 7:30am and we wanted to allow enough time to get there and through security before heading to the gate. We timed it pretty perfectly really with enough time to grab some Breckie too! The flight took one hour so we touched down in Rotterdam at 9:30am local time because of the hour time difference.
Richard met us off the plane and Bert was waiting in the drop off area for us in his classic 1948 Blue Mercedes. We are staying with old friends of Anne and Richard (Desiree and Bert) who are a Dutch couple that lived in Mt Wellington/Takanini when Andrew and Alastair were very young. They have two boys (Sjoerd and Kit) and the family have been back and forth to New Zealand a number of times. Bert drove us back to their place which is about fifteen minutes drive from the centre of Rotterdam. Anne and Desiree were out doing some shopping when we got back to their house so we just chilled out until they got home.
Andrew and I were feeling the effects of the early morning start by now so we thought it would be a good idea to go for a walk to keep ourselves moving. Anne and Richard joined us and we went for a wander to the nearby shops observing the gorgeous wee houses along the way. We came across a stunning old church that sits in the middle of a circle of houses which is very much a focal point of the area. The houses nearby all have such beautifully looked after gardens and the front windows have interesting objects on display that appear to have had a lot of thought and design gone into them.
When we got back to the house Desiree had lunch served on the table which was a help yourself mixture of things. Just perfect! We had lots of laughs talking about funny Dutch words- 'dinges' in particular is one we won't forget! They use this word for pretty much anything and I would probably translate it as 'thingy'. For example "Pass me the dinges!" Desiree got out some old photos of them all together in New Zealand so we had some more laughs especially at Richard back in the day- "a Beetles Lookalike" as Bert put it! Hehe! The boys shared some memories of times with Andrew and Alastair and Desiree and Bert told us how Andrew used to climb up doorways with his hands and feet either side. Hilarious stories and such neat photos!
Then we got ready to head off to Kinderdijk which is a site located 15 miles east of Rotterdam that boasts 19 pristinely reserved windmills. The windmills were erected in the 1600's to drain the Alblasserwaard polders, which had suffered floods since the 13th century. One such flood, the Saint Elizabeth Flood of 1421, is both the source of the name Kinderdijk and of the associated fairy tale, "The Cat and the Cradle": after the storm, a wooden cradle was spotted on the flood waters, in which a cat jumped to and fro to keep the cradle afloat. When the cradle approached the dry land of the dyke, the locals discovered a baby inside - hence the name Kinderdijk, Dutch for "children's dyke". Nowadays the windmills have been relieved by more efficient screw pumps, but you can still visit the monumental 17th-century windmills that comprise the incredible man-made landscape of Kinderdijk. Andrew and I went inside one of the windmills and it was really quite incredible!
Once we returned to the house Anne gave me a little windmill charm for my Pandora bracelet that she had picked up for me during the week which is so special and what a fabulous thing to have for such a fantastic memorable day! Desiree also gave me this gorgeous antique pearl bracelet to remember her and our time together here. I am so very lucky and truly appreciate this thought and kindness. We had a lovely evening meal together to finish off an amazing first day here in Rotterdam, Holland. We are off to Amsterdam for the day tomorrow so very much looking forward to that! En Daar...