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“If everybody comes from somewhere else, nobody is a stranger.” ~Rien Vroegindeweij

April 27, 2022

We began our morning in Rotterdam. It was a rather chilly morning but the sun was shining and we did a walking tour of the city. Our guide told us that on May 14, 1940, almost the entire city center was wiped out by German bombs in an attack that lasted barely fifteen minutes. The bombs took 900 lives and 85,000 homes leaving it a city without a heart.

Architects designed buildings to help rebuild the city. The Blaaktoren is a residential tower by architect Piet Blom. Also popular as the Potlood (Pencil) building in Rotterdam because of the pointy top.

There were other interesting architectural buildings, such as one with the curve of the windows on the bottom, so that people would not put nicknacks and photographs in them, although people put wooden shelving in the windows despite that.

Probably no other building was as strange as the famous Cube Houses which connect the Oude Haven (Old Harbor) and the Blaak areas in Rotterdam. The 51 iconic Cubic Houses (kubushuizen) in Rotterdam are by architect Piet Blom. With 38 actual Cubic Houses between 13 Company Cubes. The space inside is slanted walls and open windows where occasionally something will fall from the window onto the streets below. Because they look a little like trees, and the architect was Blaak, they are sometimes called the Blaak Forest. With narrow staircases and an unusual design they are difficult to live in.

There was a shipyard for reconstructing ships, and an unusual building that had a giant pass through which was decorated with a “mural” and on the ground level had many shops.

We enjoyed a cheese tasting at one of the shops.

Of course, as always you must keep a watchful eye out for the bicycles and motor-bikes. We enjoyed the unusual sinking cathedral and strange art.

After a light lunch we headed to the Kinderdijk Unesco Windmills. Nineteen beautiful windmills remain which were built around 1740 as a part of a water managment system to prevent flooding. In 1997 they were declared to be UNESCO World Heritage. We were blessed by sunshine but cool weather but again a lovely afternoon.

                            The Windmill by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

        "Behold! a giant am I!
        Aloft here in my tower,
        With my granite jaws I devour
       The maize, and the wheat, and the rye,
        And grind them into flour.

    I look down over the farms;
        In the fields of grain I see
        The harvest that is to be,
    And I fling to the air my arms,
        For I know it is all for me.

    I hear the sound of flails
        Far off, from the threshing-floors
        In barns, with their open doors,
    And the wind, the wind in my sails,
        Louder and louder roars.

    I stand here in my place,
        With my foot on the rock below,
        And whichever way it may blow
    I meet it face to face,
        As a brave man meets his foe.

    And while we wrestle and strive
        My master, the miller, stands
        And feeds me with his hands;
    For he knows who makes him thrive,
        Who makes him lord of lands.

    On Sundays I take my rest;
        Church-going bells begin
        Their low, melodious din;
    I cross my arms on my breast,
        And all is peace within."
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