Today, we traveled to the suburb of Amsterdam, Aalsmeer via bus to see the largest flower auction in the world.
Every week day, between 7AM and 11AM, millions of Euros worth of flower are sold in Aalsmeer. The Royal FloraHolland auction house provides the computer systems, the internal logistics, and the auctioning platform, while the individual auction participants stage the cargo for worldwide distribution. The plants are sold in a countdown auction style, but the auction is likely one of the least impressive parts of the overall process.
Thousands of carts of flowers are scurried about in a variety of methods, some by automated rails, others by small tractors, and the remaining carts picked up to be delivered to the distributor by an overhead track that carries the flowers to another processing area 15 kilometers away.
Viewing the processing and sale of a massive number of plants was impressive, as was the variety of flowers that were available.
I have had the incredible opportunity on this visit to The Netherlands to meet several members of my extended family. I met a few of my mom's aunts and uncles and quite a few of her cousins. To do this, Derek and the boys and I went on an adventure through the south of the Netherlands.
We started in a town called "Den Bosch" whose church dates back to the 1100's. There, we toured the town a little and took a tour of the canals that go under the buildings and streets of the town.
After the boat tour, my mom's cousin took us to Heeswijk Castle. The castle dates back to 1080, recently being restored. I loved that it had a mote around it complete with swans.
After a lovely dinner, we were able to meet one of my mother's aunts and another of her cousins in Escharen, the town where my grandfather and is siblings were born. After getting to know my family for a while, we were able to drive through Zeeland, the town where my grandmother was born, and see the church where my grandparents where married.
On our first morning in Amsterdam, we joined our hosts on a trip to the city zoo. We loaded four kids on bikes and pedaled our way through the city. The zoo was lovely, and it was interesting to have a private tour of the city as we rode to and from the location. There is so much history here!