Gelderland, Netherlands

Gelderland is home to a few of our favourite places in The Netherlands. First there is the far eastern, capital city of Arnhem, which we’ve explored with our local friends. Then, there is Apeldoorn, home to one of our favourite zoos, Apenheul, affectionately known as ‘the monkey park.’ We also spent an emotional Liberation Day in Apeldoorn and Holton (in Overijssel) and we were blown away by the outpouring of emotion and heartfelt thanks to Canadians. We’d like to return to Gelderland and visit the palaces in the region as well as spend more time in the forests of the east.

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If you haven’t already done so, read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 of our European Adventure.

Saturday (April 15th) was the day that Mom and Dad’s trip had been planned around – our visit the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse.

In the tulip show house at Keukenhof

If you are a gardener or just a lover of flowers and plants, Keukenhof is not to be missed. The gardens are only open for a month each year, and although there are many different kinds of plants, the stars of the show are the Dutch tulips.

At Keukenhof, you will see tulips of every size, shape and colour – many of which you will never see anywhere else. It is truly amazing.

My mother is a garden goddess (who unfortunately did not pass enough of her skills along to her only child. While I love to photograph flowers, if it’s not in a pot it doesn’t do well at my house). We had planned for her to visit when Keukenhof would be at its peak – Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans.

The long cold March had delayed the blooming season by a few weeks. Although we visited Keukenhof during the middle of the month, the tulips were still just coming out.

Fortunately there is a large indoor aspect to the gardens as well. Inside the show houses things were exploding with colour and Mom was able to get at least some of the Keukenhof experience.

Me and my peeps at Keukenhof.

We spent the better part of the day there and finished up just as things were getting way too crowded. We did a quick drive through the bulb fields but again the cold had slowed things down. The riot of colour we had experienced the year before just wasn’t there.

For supper that night we headed back into Amsterdam for an Indonesian feast. Amsterdam is known for great Indonesian food from the Dutch East Indies. We hit up one of our favorite places for a Rijstafel (rice table). It’s basically a ton of small dishes of different foods so each person can sample a bit of everything. If you’re going to have a rijstafel, don’t eat for a few days prior.

With full bellies we walked towards the museum quarter where we did the other Amsterdam ‘must do’ – a canal tour. Yes, yes, Amsterdam residents are sick of the canal tour boats, I do understand, you listen to them all summer. However, if you only have a brief time in A’dam, it is the best way to see the city. Our tour was at dusk so we also got to enjoy the city lit up at night. It really does look magical.

The next morning we went to our other favorite place in the Netherlands – Apenheul, the monkey park. This was our second trip to the monkey park and things have changed a bit. There are a few new exhibits and the staff has become stricter about touching the monkeys (apparently they were getting a bit too tame which puts a really damper on release programs).

Most of the monkeys are in enclosed areas but the best thing about the park is that some of the monkeys basically have free run of the place. The little spider monkeys and the Lemurs are free to roam their areas and investigate visitors. At one point, while I was busy photographing a lemur family, I felt a tap on my back. Thinking it was Andrew, I looked up in time to see a Lemur use my shoulder as a springboard for the nearest tree.

“This sun is great! Dude, pass me a beer!”

This time, it wasn’t raining and the monkeys were out to enjoy the sun. Like the people of Europe, the lemurs were sick of the long cold March and were out to enjoy the sun.

We spent quite a while with the monkeys and then it was time to head home to Everberg. The driving portion of Euro Tour was over, but that wasn’t the end of the trip.

Tune in to my next posts to read about travels in Ireland and see more ‘lemurs’ enjoying the sun.

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Our last four days here have been some of the most interesting, fun and emotional times that we have ever had in this country. I was ‘hailed,’ adopted and bitten… but I’m getting ahead of myself …

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