Step Inside the Dutch Windmills on Nationale MolendagHeather Tucker, Monday, June 3, 2013
There are around 1000 old fashioned windmills in the Netherlands according to the VisitHolland website. And as icons go, the windmills tend to steal the show.
Finding a windmill in the Netherlands is easy. You will spot them from the motorway, in the middle of many of the older cities and on location at the famous Kinderdijk. Getting inside one, however, is a little trickier. Luckily, on the second Saturday and Sunday of May, the Nationale Molendag allows you access to a large number of these historical power machines.
Like many smaller events in the Netherlands, Nationale Molendag is not well advertised beforehand, so it is well worth marking the dates down in your agenda. A map on the website allows you to see which windmills are open and any special events they are planning. I quickly filtered the results to include windmills that would have bakery products and pancakes available. I mean, if you are going to visit a windmill you might as well add some food to the day - right?
The downside was that this limited the number of windmills in my area but there was at least one – De Zwaluw in Gelderland - that was within a reasonable driving distance away.
When out one window you see dark clouds and from another bright sunshine, you know it is going to be a crazy weather day and sure enough, as we pulled in front of the De Zwaluw it was chucking it down. We timed our run from the car to the double doors for a moment when the rain let up slightly meaning the puddle around our feet when we asked for a table was not as big as first feared.
Inside a long hall filled with wooden chairs, tables and more knick knacks than an episode of American Pickers greeted us. We quickly found a table and ordered two of the best pancakes we had ever tasted – fluffy, light and warm. Outside the sun began to make another appearance, casting a strong shadow of the windmill blades on the ground as they whooshed round and round.
Before we left we visited the bakery corner of the windmill where we could buy freshly ground flour, bread mixes and even cake mixes in a whole array of flavours.
As we began our journey back we talked about the great pancake, the friendly atmosphere inside and our recent purchases. We had had a good day, that was for sure but did that mean Nationale Molendag was a huge success?
For us, yes and no. Because of Nationale Molendag we found a new place to visit and a great pancake restaurant, but this particular windmill was not doing anything extra for the weekend. There was no tour, brass band or even a sign to indicate that it was anything more than another Saturday. Would that have been different elsewhere? Quite possibly. But unless we visit a new location next Molendag, we will never know.