30 April 2005

Flowers, Beer and Flying

Yes, folks, Mike has finally been to Europe! (And it only took 33 years)

Corinne's AIAA technical committee meeting was in Amsterdam during the last week in April, so of course I went along and we took a few extra days on either side to explore. And as it so happens, April is the PERFECT time to visit The Netherlands.

Keukenhof! 32 hectares (that's about 80 acres) of perfectly groomed flower beds, full of the most amazing bulb flowers you've ever seen.

More Keukenhof. Some ridiculous percentage of the world's flowers come from Holland. Keukenhof may be the centerpiece of the "tourist" flower industry, but the rest of the country is filled with fields and fields (and fields and fields) of flowers. I guess it helps that most of the land is below sea-level - certainly helps irrigation!

More beds at Keukenhof. The park is only open from late-March to late-May, so we were there at exactly the right time.

Motion platform. Wed through Fri we toured various facilities involved with motion simulation technology in The Netherlands. (We were here for "work" after all...) The actuators on the bottom are arranged such that the platform on top can be moved as smoothly and freely as possible.

Me, inside a simulated cockpit sitting atop a motion platform. (Unfortunately they didn't turn the motion on for that particular flight, though, so it was just a very expensive video game.)

In Delft, enjoying the local flavors. Yum... raw herring! (It actually was good!)

Sitting outside a cafe in Leidesplein, Amsterdam. Drinking Heineken and cappuccino (not at the same time).

Flowers, flowers everywhere. This was in an outdoor flower stand in downtown Amsterdam. I wish we had flower shops like this at home!

Koninginnedag. Aside from the flowers being in full bloom, the other reason this was the perfect time to visit is that April 30th is "Queen's Day", aka Koninginnedag. 36 hours of a giant street party in the whole country. The orange you see everyone wearing is the color of the royal house of The Netherlands, The House of Orange and Nassau. We were forewarned about bringing something orange to wear (Thanks Greg!), so we fit right in. Sorta.

- Mike (& Corinne)