Tuesday April 29 -- Kudelstaart to Wormerveer via Aalsmeer and Amsterdam
Our day began really early. We had coffee and were on our way by bike to the nearby flower auction by 6:45 a.m. (more on this below). It was dull and overcast and this weather stayed with us all day long. In fact, it ended up raining quite a lot during the day.
The flower auction is the biggest flower auction in the world, supplied with 19 million cut flowers a day! Flowers come into the Aalsmeer auction from all over the world and after being auctioned off, are sent on their way around the world within hours. The facility is a series of warehouses that cover over 188 acres. It is known as the World Flower Centre. The centre is owned by a corporation of 4,000 florists and employs 1800 people.
Tulips, roses, chrysanthemums, and a host of other flowers and potted plants were being ferried around the floor; a veritable bee-hive of activity with small tractors pulling wagons of flowers in all directions. It looked very disorganized, but was in fact well organized. There was a mezzanine gallery around the warehouse for tourists. We could even view (through large windows) the auction rooms which resembled lecture theatres in which trolleys of flowers were moving through on a continuous basis and buyers were sitting at computers bidding on lots they were interested in buying. It was amazing to watch. After an hour or so, we all returned to our bikes and cycled back to the boat for breakfast.
As we ate, the barge motored back towards Amsterdam and dropped us south of the city. We spent the next hour or so cycling through the centre of Amsterdam in the rain. It was rather hectic and we were quite glad to be out of the hustle and bustle of the city and onto a ferry to the north side of the river where things became much quieter. We stopped at the movie museum where we went inside for a hot chocolate and to eat our lunch.
We then cycled through the countryside until we reached Zaanse Schans, a unique historic hamlet where people live and work within original houses and buildings from the river Zaan area. The site is dominated by three operating windmills. We watched a demonstration of clog making, and then went for a walk around the village. It was packed with tourists, and not as interesting as we had thought it would be.
We left Zaanse Schans and cycled back to the barge at Wormerveer for dinner. It was another very good dinner and because we were both really tired, we had a really early night.