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From Paris' most famous rouge cabaret down to Don Quixote's fabled Spanish giants, European windmills enjoy a romantic, even mythic status that spans across the continent. The most iconic windmills, however, lie a bit further north in the pastoral, tulip-covered Dutch countryside. A trip to the Netherlands should no doubt include a stroll amongst the Kinderdijk windmills, beautiful constructions that also happen to be an ingenious testament to hydraulic technology.
Ten miles east of Rotterdam sit a concentration of 18th century windmills supported by dykes, reservoirs and pumping stations. The area is bound by rivers and canals, and the 19 picturesque windmills serve to keep the surrounding soil from flooding by scooping up water and pumping it into a nearby reservoir that can be selectively allocated back into the river. The functionality of these mills only adds to the charm of the scenery.
Depending on the area, the windmills will look and operate somewhat differently. Most of the windmills, found in Nederwaard and Overwaard, are ground sail windmills, whose billowy arms almost scrape the earth. The Blokkerse wip in Alblasserdam, however, is more svelte, built on a brick base with spindly arms that make the whole structure wobble when spinning fast.
Look down in wonder at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedral from your glass-walled pod on the London Eye, then gaze out over the Louvre and the Champs-Elysees from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The scent of rich pine forests lingers in the breeze as the 13th-century ruins of Turaida Castle are revealed before your eyes in the lush Gauja River valley in a medieval sanctuary untouched by the march of time.
The aroma of dark roasted Viennese coffee hangs thick in the air as you tread the cobblestone laneways and bask in the elegant architecture, atmospheric cafes and refined restaurants in one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
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