Monday, July 27, 2009
A Day at the Park
Yesterday Gabriel and I spent the day at De Hoge Veluwe National Park near Apeldoorn, in the province of Gelderland. After deciding he wanted to spend the day in nature, Gabriel scoured through my Lonely Planet guidebooks to find the perfect place to day-trip. De Hoge Veluwe National Park is the largest park in the Netherlands, and is filled with beautiful marshland, forests, sand dunes, and drift sand. With 42 km of hiking trails and numerous bike trails, it makes a great spot for a day spent out enjoying the Dutch landscape (although the landscape looked more like the Canadian north than that of typical Netherlands!)
The best part of the day was when we discovered that the park has FREE white bicycles that you can ride along the trails. At each of the three entrances, you can pick up a bike and ride it, depositing it at any of the many bike racks in the park. Since we had packed a picnic lunch in our backpacks, and I also brought along my camera, I found a bike with a baby-seat for my backpack to sit haha!
We spent the day riding through the evergreen forests, stopping to have a picnic on a sunny patch of pine needles, resting against a fallen piece of timber. After that we headed to the game observation deck, where we tried to spot the wild boar, elk, deer, and mountain goats that frequent the area (although we didn't see any!) We stopped by the Jachthuis St. Hubert, a hunting lodge that was built in the 1930s by a wealthy German-Dutch couple. They also built the famous Kroller-Muller art museum, which houses more van Gogh paintings than the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and is located in the heart of the National park. We didn't visit the museum, but enjoyed lounging on the grounds of the hunting lodge, watching the wildflowers sway in the breeze and the lilypads float along the lake.
Our bike ride took us roughly 4 hours, through dunes, trails, and off the beaten path. By the end of our ride, we were exhausted, and took the opportunity to stop into the nearby town of Hoenderloo at Cafe De Zaak for a tosti and some Spa Blauws.
If you are looking to experience nature in a country with such a high population density, a trip to Hoge Veluwe will definitely satisfy your craving. We truly felt like we were up in Northern British Columbia, and on our drive out to Gelderland, we felt that the highways looked exactly like those leading up to Muskoka in Northern Ontario. A beautiful day and another fun Dutch adventure :)