Saturday, September 10, 2011

Aalsmeer and The Hague

During Traci's visit we started out Monday morning very early with a trip to Aalsmeer.  Our destination was the Aalsmeer Flower Market - the largest flower market in the world.  The interior of the building was the size of 120 football kidding.  It was massive - pictures and words cannot convey the immense size of this market.

Large carts carried hundreds of varieties of flowers and plants into the auction floor.

The flowers were cut the night before and shipped to Aalsmeer to be sold.  Everything is as fresh as it can possibly be in order to ensure that they reach their destination in good condition.

We were amazed at the scope of this business.  Thousands of carts were loaded with beautiful flowers of every color and description.  It was unbelievable!

These large blossoms in the front are called Hortensia.  They are very popular here because they bloom in early June and are still bright and colorful in August.  They have an incredible longevity.

Roses were also a very popular flower.  Of course by now the tulips are gone, but in April and May they would be a large proportion of the flowers being sold.

There were several 'auction' rooms where buyers sat in front of computers and ordered the variety and number of flowers they needed to buy for their customers all over the world.

As the flowers were passed through the auction room on the carts, buyers could type into their computers the amount they were willing to pay for each variety.  When the plants were all sold the next group moved in.

It was an amazing process to watch.

This is the season for these large sunflowers - a beautiful fall flower.

What an amazing sight and one of the most interesting things we have observed in this country.

Our next destination was The Hague where the International Peace Palace is located.  This building houses the International Court of Justice.  We called to see if tours were being conducted but we were told there was a trial in session so tourists weren't allowed inside.

(Just to prove I was also there.  The one behind the camera is the most invisable.)

The palace was very beautiful.  This is a sign in three languages announcing what was inside.

Holland has hundreds of 'interesting' statues. 

We next visited the Binnenhof - the seat of Dutch government.

Such a pretty setting for the serious business of governing the country.

This building is called the Ridderzaal or Hall of Knights.  It is here that the Queen gives her opening address to Parliament outlining the policies of her government for the coming year.  It is the most important building in the medieval courtyard.

The Mauritshuis Museum is on the block occupying the Binnenhof.  It was once a royal palace but is now a museum housing works of many Dutch painters -particularly Vermeer.  It is considered one of the richest small museums in the world.

We walked through this porticle to reach the inner court.

Originally a moat surrounded the compound.

This is the home of the Dutch Senate.

The royal crest over the archway identifies this area as a government complex.

The square was very large and spacious.  We enjoyed watching people come and go across the square. 

Smile for the camera!

This elegant fountain stood in the center of the courtyard directly in front of the Ridderzaal.

We went inside of the Ridderzaal (or Hall of Knights) to the room containing the royal throne.  It is located in the center of the picture and is where the queen stands while she delivers her "State of the State" address.

We next went to the building where the House of Representatives meet.  We enjoyed seeing the hall where Dutch laws were discussed and voted upon.  The colors decorating the hall represented colors prominant in the country:  blue for the water, green for the countryside, and grey for the sky.  (Yes, the sky is rarely blue.)

Well, we'd better call it a day.  We've got to prepare for the Young Adult Family Home Evening.  Goodbye, beautiful city.  We've enjoyed visiting here today.

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