Tilting at windmills


For our one full day in Rotterdam we went to the Kinderdijk museum, which has a series of 19 wind pumps built in the 18th century to pump water out of the otherwise marshy land. We got a bit of bad advice on directions there, since there is both a water taxi, and water bus, and several people told us directions to the water taxi instead of the water bus. The confusion was further compounded by conflicting information about which water bus line was running at the end of May. Eventually we figured it out though. We took the water bus, which was a quite big and comfortable boat, for about 20 minutes, then had to transfer to a smaller boat where we were crammed into an open air standing section for a 5 minute ride.

At the museum we learned a lot about how the Dutch have been fighting water for hundreds of years. 40% of the Netherlands is below sea level. I knew about the dikes to hold back the seawater, but somehow or other, I hadn’t realized that many of the “windmills” in the Netherlands are actual wind pumps. That is, they are not used to mill flour, but rather are used to pump water upstream, in a series of channels, sort of like locks, until the water can be pumped into a natural river which carries it away. These wind pumps have now been replaced with electric pumps, but they kept them around for historical reasons.

Clare and Rob at Kinderdijk

There are two windmills you can actually go inside and see how the Miller’s family lived back in the day. One of the mills still has the gears going to pump the water, which was pretty neat to see.

Fedibbletys at Kinderdijk
Fedibbletys at Kinderdijk

Architecture in Rotterdam

Several weeks ago we went to Rotterdam for a long weekend. I chose this destination mostly just to see a concert, which was fantastic. I still have Nate Smith + Kinfolk songs running through my head. It was only a couple hours by train, but I figured we might as well stay a couple days anyways. Clare found us a fantastic place to stay on the 16th floor, with a gorgeous view of the city. Rotterdam was mostly destroyed in World War II, and they decided to rebuild it in a very modern style. I am not usually a fan on modern architecture, but I really found the architecture in Rotterdam fascinating. And of course, there were many bicyclists.

Rotterdam: Nate Smith Concert

We chose to go to Rotterdam the last weekend in May because there was a concert by one of Rob’s favorite jazz drummers. He mentioned it online and two of his colleagues met us for dinner and the concert. It was super fun to get to share a meal and music with new people.

Nate Smith concert

Last week we went to Rotterdam to see Nate Smith + Kinfolk at the Bird. Nate Smith is one of my favorite drummers, and I have been looking forward to the concert for over 6 months. It did not disappoint. The concert was awesome! I have had a bunch of the tunes going through my head ever since.

They opened with Altitude. He did a drum solo into Rambo, into I Burn For You, and then back to Rambo. 

For the encore, Nate did another drum solo, of the sort I have seen from other concerts, where he gets the audience to clap along, and then plays around with all sorts of different rhythms. Then John Cowherd did an amazing organ intro into Fly, and they ended the concert in a quiet and peaceful setting. 
My only complaint is that they didn’t play Skip Step. Maybe he has gotten tired of playing that one. Also, it was hot in the venue, which Nate also complained about. I was a little bit worried that Clare and Alice wouldn’t enjoy the frenzied jazz music, but even they seemed to enjoy it, particularly Amma Whatt’s vocals, which were amazing. One of the things I love about Nate Smith’s music is the variety – he takes you through all the emotions, ranging from whisper to roar and back multiple times.

Several colleagues from Automattic joined us for dinner and the concert, which was also really nice. On top of all of that, we really enjoyed Rotterdam. I’ll post some more pictures from our trip soon.