Today we took a tour of the Royal FloraHolland Flower Auction in Aalsmeer. As the Park Plaza Victoria Hotel in Amsterdam is directly across the street from Amsterdam Central Station we were able to pick up F Connection bus 172 by simply crossing the street. We boarded the F Connection bus 172 headed towards Kudelstaart at 6:50am. Pickup the bus at Red Arrow on map. You could also take Tram 5 from Amsterdam Central Station to the Amstelveen Bus Station and then catch Connection bus 172. Transportation on F Connection bus 172 was 5 Euro each way per person. We arrived at stop BVFH Hoofding, the departure point for the Flora Holland experience at 7:42am. From there it is about a 2 minute walk to reception for an entry ticket. Adult entry to the facility was 7.50 Euro.
After purchasing entry tickets, we navigated a few stairs and then we were inside. Immediately I wanted to snap a photo of the large indoor flower warehouse which is considered as the largest building by footprint in the world. Through the middle of the facility, a Catwalk was overhead so you could walk through the main warehouse and look down on all the action. We were completely enamored by what we were seeing and wanted to record every moment so as not to miss a thing.
After taking a bit of time we hurried straight to the flower auction so as not to miss the action there. At the auction room, we were looking through a glass window with countless other folks watching the bidding floor. The auction room consisted of two video screens showing the current item up for bid and several hundred auction stations where the buyers sat. There is an identical window on each side of the auction with the further side being much less crowded. There is also an indoor area posted do not enter on initial walk-up but only because this is a designated exit. If you go to the other side you can enter. This will put you in an area directly behind the buyers, again you are behind glass, and there is a nice cafe inside with a small amount of historical information and some floral displays.
In addition to the video pictures of the items being bid, the auction screen had a round dial consisting of bid amounts. With a little bit of study you could see how many stems were on the block and at what price they were being bid and/or bought. You could also see information such as product quality, buds per stem and total number of containers. It took us about 15 minutes to catch on with what exactly was happening. Refer to the handout you were given at reception for more detailed information explaining the entirety of the process.
Afterwards we went back to the Catwalk that we had rushed through on the way in. Now we had plenty of time to watch all the action on the warehouse floor. We observed the activities for about an hour. We quickly learned that items just auctioned would queue in a buffer area. Then a worker would attach a trailer of flower containers to his electric transport and using a pick ticket, make deliveries to different sections of the warehouse according to this ticket. At each designated section that he held a ticket for, he would load the required number of containers, and scan that the items were loaded. When the section trailers were full, another person would take the trailer to another area were the customers complete order was being assembled. The completed train of trailers would be taken out of the sorting area and moved into packaging and preparation for airport delivery. The whole days processing moves fast and furious with the added anxiety of merely 24 hours from auction to florist shop in your hometown.
At the end of the gangway, before exiting, there were several videos and interactive displays to get you involved. In one area you can film yourself pretending to drive one of the electric carts around the warehouse floor, in another you could photograph yourself on various green screens adding scenery to put yourself in the middle of the flower fields.
This was probably our favorite tour in Holland. If you have the time I urge you to visit this facility consisting of about 128 acres. It will help you to appreciate the work that goes into the processing and delivery of flowers from all over the world.
Steps logged: 2,400