09 September 2010

Rural Holland

A lot of people who we've talked to have said that there's no nature in Holland. That's a bit of an overstatement, but it speaks to a truth about the country - its rural areas aren't really all that rural. They can still be very pretty. These pictures are culled from a few different places and towns. We came across the fields above as we were searching for a castle (that turned out to be more like a manor house) on our bikes in the rain. If it wasn't so misty, you could see a highway in the distance.
We fell in love with this little gatehouse cottage - it looked like someone actually lived in it. The lighter green strip in the picture is actually a canal, not grass. On a lot of the less-used waterways, the duckweed grows so thickly that it looks like dense spinach soup.
This is in Haarlem, which is a "rural city." The whole river, here, was dotted with boats on this Sunday.
This house was also in Haarlem. This part of the city seemed to be the "painted-house district." It feels like a small town in the center, though it does have its share of sprawl. The population density is very high here in Holland, so it's nice when you get a chance to pretend that you're in the countryside.

There are actually quite a few windmills. This one turned outside our room in Santpoort Noord. We were told that it ground grain. They are much larger than I expected.
I had always assumed that the reason that Holland had so many windmills was because it had a lot of wind. While this is partly true, there are two more important reasons why they built thousands of them. First, because they didn't have any swiftly moving water to power mills. Second, because they needed engines to pump water out of the fields to keep the land relatively dry.

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