This was a big day for us! We got an early start out of our Amsterdam hotel and headed to the Alsmeer flower auction at the company FloraHolland. Some 20 million flowers are delivered, auctioned off, and then sent to their destinations each day of the week. Flowers come from many parts of the world, but particularly from the Netherlands. They get shipped all over the world as well. The workers are constantly moving individual racks of flowers from one place to another to quickly fill the orders. Most flowers stay in the warehouse less than a few hours. Amazing!
From there, we headed to the storm surge barrier that is found near Rotterdam. It essentially allows Rhine/Maas River traffic in and out from the North Sea under normal conditions but can close off the passageway if high tides/seas are expected that could flood the region. The barriers are simply massive in scale! It was a very interesting tour!
Next, we stopped for lunch in a small Dutch village in the Zeeland province and then headed to the town of Goes, NL where the Vermeer Corporation (of Pella, IA) has a plant. We were able to hear about the company and the challenges they face in working in the EU. After a great visit with the people at Vermeer, we headed south to the town of Brugges, Belguim where we will spend the next two nights. Dinner at the hotel was excellent, but not all of the students were fond of the fish soup (which was salty, but very good). After that, many walked down to the city square where some beautiful buildings were lit up nicely.
Tomorrow we begin our day with a visit to the Burke-Porter facility in Brugge. We then will have a guided tour of the city, followed by dinner in a local restaurant.