Frans Goossens is a volunteer at Anno Haarlem. In his working life, he was an examiner and teacher at the CBR. When Frans retired, he wanted to do anything but sit still; that's nothing for him. He was a host in several museums, a volunteer in a hospital and a reader for children with a language deficiency.
"My wife saw in 2017 that a visitor center of VVV Haarlem opened. She asked if that wouldn't be something for me. At the time, Anno Haarlem was still a one-year pilot. It was created to simulate visits to cultural institutions in Haarlem. Anno Haarlem conveys knowledge about the history and culture of Haarlem. We do that with the video 'Haarlem in a bird's eye view' and showcases with objects related to the city's history."
'Haarlem in a bird's eye view' is a video that lasts about six minutes. The video takes the visitor back in time. It shows Haarlem in a bird's eye view since its inception until now. The hosts and hostesses at Anno Haarlem are happy to tell visitors more about the city after watching the film.
The visitor center is in the oldest part of City Hall. It used to be part of the hunting castle of Counts of Holland. "That's why it looks castle-like. This place remained after a big city fire. The location is ideal. You're right in the center and visitors who come through VVV Haarlem don't have to walk far because it's right next door."
French has always been interested in history and reads many books. "I am curious by nature. If I can't answer a visitor's question right away, I look up the answer at home. I already know a lot, but on the job you keep learning." It gives Frans satisfaction to impart knowledge and have conversations with interested visitors.
A workday always goes by quickly for Frans. "When the door opens at 11 a.m., there are already people on the sidewalk coming from the tourist office." There is a morning shift and an afternoon shift. Anno is open four days a week. "We have a good team, I dare say. Quality control is very important to us. We make sure the hosts and hostesses maintain their quality by having conversations about how things are going on the floor."
Frans was born in Haarlem. "The most beautiful places in Haarlem for me are the Grote- or St. Bavokerk and the Teylers Museum," he said. When Frans is in town, he likes to be at film and theater. He also enjoys taking a whisper boat through Haarlem's canals. "I prefer to do that with friends who don't know Haarlem very well. Then I can tell them about the city."
Nine years ago, Frans moved back to his hometown, and he knows he will now stay in the city forever. "When the wind is right and I'm on the balcony of my apartment, I can hear the Damias. That makes me feel like I'm home. I never want to leave here."