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Going Dutch: King’s Day and Other Stories

Windmühle_aussenMetrohm Applikon is located in the town of Schiedam, which belongs to the metropolitan area of Rotterdam. The company produces the Metrohm Process Analytics brand: R&D and production as well as product management and marketing for Metrohm Process Analytics are done in Schiedam. While I was visiting, marketing manager and beer brewing enthusiast Alyson Lanciki, whom you might know from her informative blog posts on beer brewing (here’s one of them), showed me around the world of Metrohm Applikon.

Alyson is a New Yorker, but she’s lived in the Netherlands for many years. She and her husband just recently bought a house in Delft, the town known for its blue and white pottery. Alyson and I have known each other for several years, ever since Alyson moved from the application lab and into marketing. Since then, we’ve been working closely together.

Applikon

In process analyzer heaven (if you’re into that kind of stuff)

On my first day in the Netherlands, Alyson took me and some of the company’s young employees out for lunch in a windmill. The windmills in Schiedam are the tallest in the world. There used to be 20 of them. The reason for this is that Schiedam was the jenever capital of the world—a drink similar to gin—and the windmills ground the grain for its production. Nowadays, only 5 of these windmills are left.

Windmühle_innen

After lunch, Alyson and I sent the rest of the group back to work while we snuck out to Rotterdam for an afternoon of sightseeing. Rotterdam is a very modern city—like Warsaw, large parts of Rotterdam’s old town were destroyed during World War II («Cities my people destroyed» would be a very good motto for my trip right now; other ideas include «Traffic jams of the world» or «Eating my way through the Metrohm world»). Nowadays, there are tons of crazy architecture—you sometimes wonder how such a building is able to stand (and especially withstand the Dutch winds, which can be very strong). For example the cube houses, a modern housing concept with tree-shaped houses arranged in forests, or the De Rotterdam building, which is somewhat reminiscent of tetris blocks.

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The Laurens Church after the bombing of 1940. It’s the only remnant of medieval Rotterdam.

Wherever you look, you’ll find art: There are some murals, and there are sculptures everywhere. Many of them in some way relate to the 1940 bombing of the city. It reminded me of my visit to Hiroshima a few years back, where the atomic bombing of 1945 is equally present, with the difference that, in Hiroshima, mostly symbols of peace are found, while Rotterdam focuses on the pain and the loss of the bombing.

Orange Fever: Koningsdag in Delft

I was lucky enough to be in the Netherlands for Koningsdag (King’s Day) on April 27th. This date marks King Willem Alexander’s birthday and is the Dutch national holiday. Alyson and I had originally planned to join the celebrations in Amsterdam but I was having a very tired day and didn’t feel like I could handle the crowds and the general crazyness that would have expected us in the Dutch capital. So we decided to stay in Delft for the day—after all, Koningsdag is celebrated in all Dutch towns and cities. There are stages with music, food and drink stalls in the streets, and many Dutch people dress up in their national color orange and spend the day out on the streets celebrating. There’s also a nationwide flea market: on King’s Day, no permit is needed to sell things in the streets, so people sell things they don’t need anymore, for example, children’s clothes that their offspring has grown out of, toys, jewelery, all kinds of furnishings, and more. There’s hardly anything you cannot find here. It’s a day to walk through town while having some beers and just soaking up everything that is happening around you. And then go to bed and get some well-deserved sleep.

Blue_Heart_Delft

Alyson and I dressed up for Koningsdag in Delft. The heart sculpture, with its blue color, is reminiscent of the famous blue and white Delft pottery.

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