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Trip Report: Sightseeing in Barcelona, Spain and the Netherlands (page 3)
All photos by Todd unless otherwise noted.

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With some travels in between, we eventually wound up in Holland to visit some of my wife's family and to see the sights. 
Holland is an extremely flat and somewhat boggy country with more than half the landmass lying at an elevation below sea level. In order to create more arable land, the industrious Dutch have created a system of dams to hold back the sea (you remember the story of the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike) and windmills to pump water from low lying areas. The mills in these photos are located at Kinderdijk.
If you haven't seen one in person, here's a video of a windmill in action. This isn't a languidly spinning toy, it's a working machine that generates enough lift to raise large quantities of water over 3 ft in height. 
The mills in these photos were all built between 1738 - 1761and many are still fully functional, though the bulk of the work is now performed by a modern pumping station.
In order to maximize wind power, the sails can be stretched over the hollow framework of the blades to the desired length. The tops of the mills can also be rotated (using the tail located at the back of the mill) to face directly into the wind. A series of gears transfers the rotational power of the blades to a scoop wheel (like a paddle wheel) beneath the mill which lifts water from the area to be drained into a stream or canal that flows to the sea.
The windmills in the Kinderdijk served as both homes and workplace for the millers who managed them, and feature small living quarters in addition to the machinery of the mill.
Holland is an extremely bicycle friendly place with dedicated bike lanes and paths, and biking is a popular form of transportation. The Dutch prefer these quaint touring type bikes which allow you to ride in an upright posture. Since there are no hills in the entire country, they have settled on a modest 5 gears to meet your pedaling needs.
This home features the interesting contrasts of both a thatched roof and a satellite dish. Proof that technology doesn't have to be new to be good.
Here's a little bridge spanning a lily covered canal we found while tooling about. Holland is a very easy country for Americans to get around in since English is commonly spoken throughout the country (though Dutch remains the official language).
This is another larger canal spanned by a drawbridge. Though you can't tell from these photos, the Netherlands has the highest population density in all of Europe. One result is that there is no wilderness to speak of, though it's rather peaceful in the more rural areas. In the busy city centers it's wall to wall people .
While the multi-city European tour preferred by many vacationers doesn't particularly appeal to me, I am glad I got to spend a few days in these urban areas since it provided a chance to see some sights, absorb some culture (much needed in my case, some would say) and get an idea how other folks live. Hope you enjoyed the tour.
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