I felt like a real Haarlem Globetrotter this afternoon as a colleague invited me to her home in Haarlem, a city dating back to pre-medieval times just outside of Amsterdam. Haarlem has a rich history. From the earliest days, the residents had to fight against the waters of the North Sea on the West and the Haarlem Lake on the East. In fact, the name Haarlem comes from the Dutch word "Haarloheim" which means "place on sand covered in trees, higher than the others." I understand that to this day kids are taught to respect the grasses on the dunes whose long roots still protect the land from erosion. During the famous "Tulip Mania" of the 1600's -- when tulip bulbs were sold for outrageous sums -- Haarlem became a major center of the Dutch tulip trade. Just walking the city streets is like reading a history book. One of my favorite stories is of the Catholic church pictured above. When it was being built in the late 1800's, local residents split into two groups -- one group of men and the other of women -- to build two clock towers. The women, so the story goes, raised the money for their tower almost immediately and were subsequently able to fund the construction of the tower to the left. The men, on the other hand, weren't quite so lucky. They raised the funds alright, but spent a lot of the proceeds on massive beer parties (Haarlem had quite a few breweries at the time). As a result, they couldn't afford to add a clock to the tower on the right. I'll bet they got their clocks cleaned over that one ...!