Monday, February 14, 2011

First Wedding Anniversary: Part I

We had the time of our lives! So much so, it will take at least 3 parts/posts to get from beginning to end in our two days, 627 km (390 miles), driving through 9 of Holland's 12 provinces.

But first of all, can you believe we've been married one year!

February 5 was the big day and Astrid knew on Christmas Day at Kinderdijk how she wanted us to celebrate. I had asked her if people lived in the windmills at Kinderdijk (like they do elsewhere) and she said YES. That got her wondering if there was such a thing in Holland as a B&B windmill. Lucky for us, the answer is YES. But only two of them. On the spot, and as a surprise for me, Astrid picked one and made reservations for the February 4-5 Friday-Saturday weekend, with Friday off work.

Once she told me the surprise, we started planning the trip. If you look at the map (click to enlarge), you can see the route we took, starting in Gorinchem Friday morning, stopping in Lemmer and Sneek before arriving at our B&B outside Groningen late afternoon. On Saturday we continued to Delfzijl, one of Holland's most northern port cities where we could look across the Eems River and wave to our German friends. Then south through small towns to Rolde where we saw 2 of Holland's ancient Hunebedden burial sites...before heading back home.

In this post we will start with the main surprise of the trip: the windmill Molen Hunsingo B&B in Onderdendam, outside of Groningen. We drove through 6 provinces to get there on a very gray and windy day.

This was our very first view as we drove into the town of Onderdendam (= Under the Dam).
Did you notice the modern version (wind turbine) on the right?

And then, up close and personal: the Molen Hunsingo windmill B&B.
See that middle window under the platform? That was the floor of the BED part of our B&B.

Within minutes we climbed the stairs to the 3rd floor (2nd floor in Holland because the ground floor is, well, the ground floor and the next floor up is the 1st floor). The entire circumference of the windmill on that floor was ours...a complete apartment where we could have easily stayed a week.
With a pull-out sofabed, you could have even visited us!

Since we're early eaters, we reserved a dinner table for 5:30 there at the ground floor restaurant...and then headed outside to get the lay of the land before eating.

Onderdendam is in the municipality of Bedum and is so small you can't even Google for it in English. In Dutch, you can see it here. See the house in the top left-hand corner above? It used to be the prison. And the water you see there is the Winsumerdiep canal. It didn't take us long to see what we wanted to see....

...the nearby Hervormde Kerk from 1840, which can be seen from the windmill....

...and Het Jagertje, the monument to all the boats' women (usually the wives of the boat captains) who helped pull the trading boats through the canals from one city to another. Astrid says in the old days these boats didn't have engines and so were pulled along by women or horses, while the captain steered the boat.

By then it was time for our dinner reservation on the ground floor of the mill.
Some of the above images are also from the next morning when it was lighter outside.
But you get a feel for the charm of this place.

Everyone was so absolutely welcoming and pleased we were spending our first anniversary there with them. After we finished our meal, we ordered two specialty koffies with liquours from the Groningen province. When the maître d' brought us two forks, we immediately knew something was up....

The head chef had made us a special individualized black-forest cake for our celebration.
We felt so honored!
Notice the two liquour glasses, each with a different flavor, and the whipped cream on the side, so that we could both drink each brand.

A well-stocked bar...for specialty koffies!

And because the night was still young, we even had time to play Rummikub up in our apartment before being lulled to sleep by the howling wind swirling around the mill. Astrid found out later we had gale-force 'Level 8' winds (39–46 mph) that entire weekend. We were in heaven.

The next morning we enjoyed the BREAKFAST part of our B&B.
The mill has only two apartments for rent. The one beneath us was rented by a family with two young children...a boy and a girl. As we were finishing breakfast they were arriving to eat. I asked the kids if this was their first night in a windmill, to which they both said YES. En goed geslapen (good sleeping)? YES. :)

One last gift as we left Onderdendam...tulips and wooden shoes.
As Astrid would say, more Dutch you cannot get.

It was now Saturday and we were on our way home but the long way, driving north before heading back south....

[to be continued]


  1. SO cozy! The thought of staying in that tight space, inside bricks, with the wind howling outside -- in a windmill for heaven's sake -- is just tremendous.

    I love the photos of the dining room especially, and all those liquours, wow.

    Perfection for a celebration!

  2. A B&B in a windmolen! More Dutch you cannot get and more romantic you cannot get!

    I love the wooden sculpture of the woman pulling the boat. I have felt that way at times :) So good of Astrid to help with the load.

  3. That sounded like a really neat trip! I really would have loved to stay in that windmill too. Or even in the prison! Beautiful building! We've stayed in an old prison before, very interesting ecperience....

    Happy Valentine!

  4. ...not so sure I would want to be a captains wife... that' crazy. I think I would tell him to get a few more mules!

    What a perfect anniversary gift and that the wind seemed to celebrate it too. When we lived in our first house in Petoskey, MI, we lived on a hill with a view of Lake Michigan - and wind all the time. I loved watching the storms come in from over the lake - and the first few days we were moving in, a tornado hit Charlevoix (next town over) and I had watched those very clouds roll over our house.

    Yes, can't wait to see the rest of the trip! I'll live vicariously through you... is there such a thing as alone time without kids... I can't remember.

  5. Ruth: It really was tremendous. I'll never forget it. How can we top that, right? :)

    DB: It was the experience of a lifetime. I'll never forget it. And yes, that woman...represents all of us who have had to pull heavy loads!

    LCTB: A prison wouldn't be bad either, come to think of it, but it sure will be hard to beat a windmill. Thnaks for stopping by again.

    Margaret: HAHAHA. Those captains and their women. It was fun to see her so nearby the windmill. It was such a great experience...all of it. I LOVE the wind. As a Gemini, it's very important to me. Gotta have the wind...and all those clouds and storms. Are you a Gemini, by chance?

  6. Is it one year already? Whew! Wasn't that a fast year?

    Oh my goodness this was the perfect spot for that celebration.

    Congratulations to you both. More anniversaries to come.

  7. This is so gorgeous! I would love to spend some time in a windmill B&B. It looks so cozy! I'm happy that the two had such a good time celebrating!

  8. PC: Time flies when you're having fun! I know. The first year has whizzed by. How will we ever top THAT for a celebration. I know. But we will certainly try. :) Thanks, Maria.

    Carola: It really WAS cozy, especially with the wind blowing the entire time. Thank you for celebrating with us.

  9. This wooden sculpture is so unique! I am sure I would take the same picture:)

  10. And how time has flown by! Next thing you know it, we will also have a 1 year old just after your 2 year anniversary!

    Wow - what a treat. I would be so honored to have such a cake as well. I just love the charm of the inside of the windmill. The eating area is so beautiful, something I fall in love with!

    And did you feel comfortable speaking in dutch to the kids? I guess a year into it, it's getting easier?

    I got mum's last night from P, how fitting for me right now. :)

    Can't wait to read more!

  11. Sounds like a wonderful place for a celebration. Congrats on your anniversary!

  12. Ola: I'm sure you would. :)

    ET: That is so fun to think of your child being just one year less than our anniversary number! How cool is that for remembering. I love it. Our trip was so special, and YES, I felt comfortable speaking Dutch to the kids...but then, it wasn't much. Just enough. :)

    Mums from P. It took me awhile to get it. HA! How funny.

    Tim: It was a great place...and THANKS!

  13. Time flies, how often we say that to each other.
    Every time there is a celebration, it will be now our 'second' of everything.
    It was so much fun to make the reservations and make it all work.
    The weather was surprisingly very well, 'windmill-weather' as the miller would say.
    The stay at the windmill was beyond all expectations, never to forget.
    A few places on the trip I had seen before, but my joy is to see your sparkling eyes to see it again with me.
    Thanks, I keep repeating myself, thanks for making all these beautiful posts to 'remember'.

  14. Astrid: You are ever so welcome, of course, MLMAMV. We live for these wonderful memories together. We have so many of them. That means lots of anniversaries celebrating so much. I love how we make things happen! Thank you for your part in ths dance.

  15. Happy, Happy Anniversary Ginnie and Astrid! You documented it all so beautifully, as usual. :-)

  16. Oh my... what fun! Such a marvelous surprise anniversary present to stay in a windmill B&B! Amazing and wonderful... as are the images and the story! HAPPY HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to you both!

    (I have been missing my online visits... especially to your blog... have had a SPLITTING headache for several days and am just now feeling somewhat human again... AFTER breakfast I will visit part two of the anniversary story.)

  17. Christina: Thank you, dear friend. Can you believe it's been a year!

    Victoria: Ohhhh, I'm so sorry you've not been well! I hate it for you. Thank you for stopping by again. We feel very celebrated by friends like you, which means the world to us. Take your time on Part II. It's be there for a long time, of course. :)