Today we headed into France. After a 4-hour drive, we arrived at our first destination, the Palace of Versailles. Before seeing the palace, everyone was on their own for lunch. The palace was built by Louis 14th and several other Louis kings lived in and expanded the palace, including Napoleon. We could see many rooms and then tour the large gardens behind the palace.
After touring the palace, we had a short bus trip through the city of Paris, seeing many of the famous landmarks. After checking into our hotel near the Eiffel Tower, we headed to the Cafe du Commerce for our supper. Following supper, we learned how to use the subways in Paris and arrived at Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart) on a mountain side that overlooks Paris. We had great views of the city.
Today was spent in the beautiful city of Brugge, Belgium. Our first activity was to visit a local firm called BEP-Europe. BEP is part of the Burke Porter Group of companies which ar based in Grand Rapids, MI. Bert Vermeersch and his colleagues gave us an in-depth introduction to the Burke Porter Group and the work they do in Brugge. We then had the opportunity to walk around their shop floor and see the machines they are building. Most of the machines are intended to perform testing of new cars as they are driven off the assembly line. After seeing the impressive machines, they offered us some refreshments before we returned to Brugge’s old city center.
After finding lunch on our own, we met up with two city tour guides that led us around the city, explaining what we saw and describing the history of the city. The weather was rainy in the morning, but the afternoon was partly cloudy and very comfortable. After the tour, all were off in small groups to find some supper and to continue exploring the city.
Our day began with a visit to the Vermeer Corp location in Goes, NL. Bob Shuman and members of his staff described the Vermeer corporation and the work they do in Goes. We were given a great tour of the place and were able to ask lots of questions.
We then headed to the Oosterschelde, one of the other major storm barriers keeping the country safe from big storms. Our next stop was the small town of Veere. The town used to be a port city on the North Sea, but when the storm surge barrier was installed, they no longer have access to the North Sea. Students were on their own to find lunch in the city of Middelburg in the Province of Zeeland.
Finally, we returned to the bus to drive to our destination for the night, Brugges, Belgium. After checking into the hotel, we had dinner at Maximilian’s restaurant. Dinner was excellent and the students walked with the professors to the city square after finishing our meal.
Our day began at the Flora Holland flower auction location. It is an amazing place that auctions off millions of flowers every single day, speeding them from the growers to the customers as fast as possible. We walked a catwalk over the areas where flowers on carts are moved around quickly.
Next, we walked through the old castle courtyard in Den Haag which is home to the Dutch parliament and government. Inside the courtyard is Knights Hall, a special building used by the King to give his state of the union address each September.
After a lunch stop in Delft, we traveled to the large storm surge barrier near the city of Rotterdam. The pictures show the impressive size of the barrier. Our day wrapped up when we arrived in Goes, NL for our hotel stay and dinner. This group of students really enjoys playing the game “Rook.”
for a video of some of us driving a “virtual” flower cart click on this link (start at about 0:50)
Our first stop after leaving the hotel was the Anne Frank House museum. What happened to her and her family was tragic. Next, we headed to a river/canal cruise company. It was nice to see the city without having to do a lot of walking. After walking around the city a bit more, we headed for our evening meal at the restaurant Haesje Claes and enjoyed a traditional dutch meal. Afterward, many decided to get sleep but a few had more to explore.
Quick update… After a short delay at the gate, our flight did take off and we arrived in the Netherlands early Sunday morning. Joop, our bus driver, was waiting for us and after we gathered our bags, we drove to the hotel to check-in and get a quick breakfast. Soon we will be leaving for the Anne Frank House and other activities for the day.
Well, things change… After boarding at 7:30pm for our 6pm flight, we sat at the gate until 9pm, waiting for authorization to go. The problem stemmed from a “dent” in the wing. The safety personnel had to check it out and clear the flight before letting us leave. Unfortunately, at 9pm we were told the flight was cancelled and we were to gather our stuff and leave the plane. After a long wait, we got reservations at a nearby hotel. They told us our bags would be available for pick up at a carousel. Well, it has been 2.5 hours since the flight was cancelled and still no bags have shown up. We may or may not wait for them before we leave for the hotel. Our flights were rescheduled for 5pm tomorrow (Saturday), so hopefully that will go well. Please pray that we will have patience through this unfortunate inconvenience. Until tomorrow….
We have had a fairly uneventful travel day so far. Currently, we are waiting to board the flight from Detroit to Amsterdam. It looks like it is going to be a bit delayed. Here are some pictures of our day so far.