Early in the morning of the first day we start our tour by minibus in Amsterdam
to visit the famous flower auction in Aalsmeer. It is the largest flower auction house in the entire world, in surface and total sales per day. The auction building has a surface of almost one million square meters (9 million sq ft!). Nineteen million flowers and two million plants change hands daily. Auctions clocks (13 in total) are used to sell the flowers and plants in a fascinating process and in fractions of seconds, large and small batches are sold.
This auction system in Aalsmeer also sets the world wide pricing of flowers and plants. We continue our tour along scenic rural roads to visit a cheese farm in the center of the green belt of Holland (the Green Heart). The farmer and his wife will welcome you with coffee while explaining the development of agriculture in this particular area. They will show you small scale Dutch cheese making, hands-on and of course you may taste the different styles and if you like purchase some. Driving over dikes, using a ferry to cross a river, we reach a Unesco World Heritage Monument.
It is a series of 19 windmills, formerly used to keep the Alblasserwaard polder area dry. Here you can see from close up the working mill and make pictures of the photogenic Dutch landscape. Delft, the city of the Delft Blue Pottery, is our next destination. Famous historical figures like the painter Johannes Vermeer and the scholar in law Grotius lived here. The University of Technology here, with its Faculty of Engineering produced some internationally well known Dutch architects.
We will see the production process of the Delft Blue Pottery and visit the tomb of William of Orange, who was the founder of the State of the Netherlands. He was buried in the New Church downtown Delft. Then we are moving in the direction of the storm surge defense system in the "Nieuwe Waterweg", ("New Waterway"), a typical masterpiece of Dutch Hydraulic Engineering. One may view this from a high positioned lookout, or see it at the exposition. As you wish, we can have lunch here with a view on the impressive steel construction of this water defense system, or enjoy lunch in the historic atmosphere of the city of Delft.
Continuing our way to a historical small town in South Holland, we cross "the New Waterway" by ferry. This water way gives access to the world port of Rotterdam. In this town, were we can have a short stop, lived at one time the only Pope that the Netherlands produced. (Pope Adrianus VI, 1522-1523). The house, in which he lived, still exists. Diving over impressive dams of the "Deltawerken", we entry the province (state) of Zeeland. This part of the Netherlands experienced a severe flooding in 1953, which caused 1850 lives. We would be happy to arrange hotel or bed & breakfast accommodations for you, in an old town on the former island of Walcheren.
The Second Day of the tour you can clearly see at the Delta Expo, how the Dutch responded to the disastrous flood of 1953 by constructing the "Deltawerken" (Delta works). This masterpiece of Dutch hydraulic engineering, the storm surge barrier of the Oosterschelde estuary can be seen from very close by. Through a long, 6 kilometer tunnel under the Westerschelde estuary, which is the access to the port of Antwerp, we are on our way to Bruges in Flanders. The center of Bruges dates back to the Middle Ages and is put on the Unesco World heritage list.
It was once the most important port of Western Europe and although it looks like an open air museum of architecture of the Middle Ages, it is very lively due to the 20,000 people that live in the old part of the city. While enjoying a beverage on a terrace at the market square "the Grote Markt", you will admire the historical buildings surrounding you. This leisurely watching is a wonderful experience. We also have enough time for shopping in town. A visit to one of the many "chocolatiers" with the many kinds of truffles, is highly recommended. Overnights in a canal house with a historical setting, can be arranged.
The Third Day of our tour through the Low Countries can be concluded with a trip to Train Stations of Brussels South or Central (with connections to London and Paris), or another destination in Brussels or Belgium.
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