Amsterdam & Aalsmeer

From our hotel on the North Sea we walked ten minutes to the Zandvoort Station and caught a train to Amsterdam.  Not only would the train be a new experience on this trip, it would save a lot of driving in the largest city in the Netherlands where bicyclists are "numerous and unforgiving."

It was a cool morning and rain was in the air.

The train was comfortable, and only a few passengers were on board.  When we transferred at Haarlem, however, the train became crowded with people on their way to work.

Architecture of Central Station in Amsterdam gave us a preview of coming attractions in the city.  Activity was high but not like frantic Grand Central Station in New York City.

This three-tiered bicycle ramp speaks to the traffic hazards in Amsterdam.  We are warned in related literature, "When you hear a bicycle bell, step aside fast!"  There are 400,000 bikes in the city, as well as scads of riverboats in the "Venice of the North."

Anne Frank wrote her famous diary from a hiding place behind this bookcase, where she and her family hid from the Nazi's for 25 months before being discovered and hauled to a camp at Belgen Bersen, where she died, along with her mother and sister.  Her dad survived to publish his daughter's diary.

Next door to Anne Frank's home is this large Protestant church called the Westerkerk.  Anne commented on the tolling of its church bells in her diary.

The downtown flower market was big, and there were many natives buying the fresh cuts and the potted plants.

Some of Amsterdam's oldest buildings house the most modern fast-food restaurants.

As in all cities great and small, the church is prominent in space and architecture, if not the lives of people in modern times.

We climbed aboard a canal boat to see many places of interest located on or near the canal.  From the canal advantage we could especially see that some of those tall buildings were no longer straight with the world.  Our boat captain told us the buildings always tip sideways, however, and not front to back.  I suppose that was to allay any fears we might have about our health, safety, and welfare.

Just south of Amsterdam is the city of Aalsmeer, home to the world marketplace for flowers and plants.  Every day the products are auctioned in front of huge clocks so that all the buyers know exactly what's for sale and how much is being paid.

The buyers sit with their laptops and are plugged into the place electronically.  Based on information on the clock face, they make a quick decision on how much they want to buy and for which price.  Carts full of plants move on trolleys before the bidders.

We learned that every morning tens of millions of flowers and plants change hands via the five auction rooms and 13 auction clocks.  Various batches of plants are split up and combined and sometimes repacked for the buyers.

And then the flowers are shipped to arrive at every corner of the world within 24 hours.  The buyers at Aalsmeer have customers from small flower stalls in the heart of London to garden centers in Moscow to specialty shops in Minneapolis.  The whole ordeal is mind boggling and fascinating.  Click here for the Grand Finale of our Dutch Treat!

Not the End

Love, Sue

Email:  Sue@PrintsPublishing.com

HomePage:  www.PrintsPublishing.com