After four solid days of antiquing, we were ready to spend our last day in Europe with a bit of sightseeing. It was late March and we had left a very snowy Colorado behind us (little did we know that winter in Colorado would be extended well into May!) but everything in Belgium seemed to be ready for spring. The newly budding trees and sunny faces of daffodils were a most welcome sight.
We began in Haarlem, the capital of north Holland. It is located in a major flower bulb growing district but we were unfortunately a bit too early in the season to visit the large blooming fields of tulips. In the city square, the Grote Markt was in full swing with an eclectic variety of items for purchase. Fresh fruit, locally-made cheese and preserves, fresh seafood, clothing, and of course, more flowers!
It would be impossible to overlook the massive gothic church that sits beside the city square. De Grote of St. Bavokerk was constructed in the late 14th century and features a wooden tower that is 256 feet high.
The exterior of the church may be impressive on its own, but step inside and prepare to have your breath taken away.
The most impressive feature of the church is the towering organ that was made by Christiaan Müller. G.F. Händel travelled to Harleem in 1740 to play this gilded organ and in 1766 it was played by a then ten-year-old Mozart.
Our next stop in Haarlem was the Corrie ten Boom House. During the Second World War, the ten Boom family turned their home into a refuge for Jews and other members of the Dutch underground who were trying to escape the Nazi regime.
The ten Boom family was eventually betrayed, arrested and sent to concentration camps. Corrie was the only family member to survive and was freed from Ravensbrück when it was liberated by the Red Army. Corrie’s faith was unwavering and her messages of forgiveness profound, saying, "God will give us the love to be able to forgive our enemies." She spent the remainder of her life as a public speaker, spreading the word of God in over 60 countries. It is estimated that the ten Boom family saved the lives of 800 people. It is a sobering, yet remarkable story.
By train, we left Haarlem and headed to Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. Amsterdam is a beautiful city with an abundance of character, canals, bikes, museums, and shopping. We took a boat tour through the canal system but most of our visit was spent wandering through the streets, admiring the architecture.
As the sun began to set, we headed back to our hotel to await our morning flight back to The States. The end of our travels is always bittersweet - the readiness to be home combined with the reluctance to leave such a beautiful part of the world.
I hope you enjoyed a look behind the scenes of our buying trip! And if you missed Part 1 and 2, you can find them here: