I am on a high-speed train to Paris. Just a few hours ago, in Amsterdam, I disembarked Luftner Cruises’ Amadeus Elegant river cruiser, seeing off my shipmates who joined Lifestyle Tours’ “Tulip River Cruise.”

I’m excited about visiting Paris with my husband’s cousin’s wife, Deanna. What a surprise — the cousins used our Paris vacation as an opportunity to get together, as well. As the landscapes change from canals, polders, dykes, and windmills to gently rolling fields and forests, I will share a few of the highlights of my eight-day river cruise.

The group from Evansville included my stepparents and stepsister and her husband — very much a treat for me. For readers who did not know I had stepsisters, this is a benefit of my stepfather remarrying a wonderful woman (a widow) who, like my stepfather, had three daughters.

The Dutch have a saying: God created the earth, but the Dutch created Holland. This refers to the Dutch’s eight-century history of harnessing the water and taming their below sea-level land. Viewed from the water, I was fascinated by these efforts.

At Kinderdijk, Netherlands, a UNESCO World Heritage site, 19 working windmills dating to the mid 18th century can be toured. They are occupied by individuals or families who apply to live in the windmills and care for them. Applicants must be certified millers. There is a 19-year wait.

Each city and town in Holland and Belgium was as pretty as the last. Bruges, Belgium, certainly must be considered among the world’s most beautiful cities, largely untouched by the bombs of war.

On April 30, crown prince Willem-Alexander will be installed during an investiture. His mother, Queen Beatrix, will abdicate the throne. The entire country will take the day off to celebrate.

Next week, “300 Words” will return stateside.

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