Friday, May 1, 2015


Today we began with an early morning, boarding the bus at 6:30 AM to ride to the big flower auction that is held in Amsterdam just by the airport in a huge warehouse (actually, multiple warehouses) where flowers are bought, sold and delivered to trucks and/or airplanes to be transported all over the place.  We walked on a catwalk above the floor where hundreds of people drove carts full of flowers in all different directions, seemingly a completely chaotic scene, but actually orderly.  Our guide says it is rare that any of the flowers go missing.  Our guide was a young woman who runs a rose growing business out of Kenya, with 600 employees.  Her African workers cut the roses and they arrive in Amsterdam within 48 hours of cutting--200,000 stems, or something like that.  I find it hard to even imagine.

We returned to the boat for a Dutch Brunch (since we hadn't had much breakfast before) and the barge began its voyage back to Amsterdam.  Since the weather was better than ever before, chilly but not awfully so, we went out to the prow of the boat and watched her pass through thirteen bridges on the way to our docking position in Amsterdam.  Most of the 13 bridges had to be raised to allow our passage, and as we waved to the cars and bicycles, everyone looked pretty annoyed.   Getting into Amsterdam took quite a while, so I took time to pack up my suitcase for the flight tomorrow to Istanbul.  

Our last excursion was to the modern art museum of Amsterdam,  right back to where we began our tour at the Conservatorium Hotel.  We had an excellent tour from a young man who was perhaps one of the best guides of the trip--we saw some of the so-called degenerate art that the Nazis so despised, some late Matisse, Mondrian, and a video art installation.   I left Larry at the cafe and went downstairs to the Matisse exhibition, and found our faculty guest, Wanda Corn, leading an informal tour of the exhibit.  Wonderful, she's go so much enthusiasm for art.  I think she knows everything about everything in art history.

Now, we're back at the barge, preparing for the final festivities of the trip.  Tomorrow, it's off to a completely different part of the world.

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