Weekend two with the Mallons came with some wet weather, but we weren’t going to let that stop us. On Friday Dan & I met up with my parents in Arnhem with plans to bike in the Hoge Veluwe National Park and check out anything else we could.
As I mentioned before, my parents have now officially seen more of the Netherlands than I have. Prior to visiting Arnhem with us, they took a driving/biking tour for three days out of Rotterdam that took them along the western coast. It was a private tour & then came back with some great stories.
I went up to Arnhem before Dan (he had to work). It was the first time I’d taken the train alone and I had a few switches to make. It was reasonably easy, but I forgot to bring along my itinerary so didn’t quite hit the best route. Quick Tip: Write down your switches or do as I did and use a smart-phone app if you have one.
Arnhem is a nice looking city, kind of modern because of the damage it took during World War II, with some nice churches, proximity to several attractions, and tons of restaurants. My mother read somewhere that Arnhem is one of the best places in the Netherlands to go for international cuisine. We took advantage of this and had both Cuban and Japanese food during our stay.
Friday I had some time with just my parents, so we visited the Eusebius Church. Since it was partially destroyed during the War, it has been restored; including a glass elevator that takes you to the top of the Gothic-style tower. At the top the view of the city is great and there are a variety of signs to show what you are looking at as well as information about the disastrous Battle at Arnhem (Operation Market Garden).
The Eusebius Church from below is interesting as well. Within the sanctuary is the largest pipe organ I’ve ever seen and one of the original church bells. Even further below (down steep steps) is a crypt containing human remains. The path is mostly original stone; not much has been changed so the space feels very old. It was creepy, but interesting to climb below the surface and take in all levels of this church.
After the Church we visited the Historische Kelders (Historical Cellars) of Arnhem. Fairly inexpensive to visit and new, this attraction allows you to walk through 40 cellars from the 13th-15th centuries. They were linked together in the early 2000s to create a tourist attraction. The cellars were neat to look at and it would be fun to have an event down there (they do catering and parties), but there is a lot they could do to make this attraction more interesting. In particular, I would have like to know exactly the usage and age of each cellar as well as a map underground to orient the location. More information on how wine cellars operated would be interesting as well since there were lots of mysterious, blocked off passages and staircases.
Dinner that night was tapas at Barrio Habana, a Cuban restaurant with an deliberate urban decay feel. Down right tasty; it was the first time I’ve eaten tapas. Its a huge restaurant with four floors, a dance floor, and distressed leather furniture in the front.
Dan joined us late that evening at the Best Western (I know but frankly it was nearly as cheap as a hostel and much nicer).
Saturday we took the bus out to Hoge Veluwe National Park and borrowed some of their 1700 free white bikes to check out the park. I was most impressed with the variety of the landscape as we biked along the trails. There are at least two different kinds of forests, a grassland, a “wasteland” (or Barrens as my Dad called it), and sand dunes. The variety and gently rolling path made for a pleasant bike ride. We even found ripe wild blueberries along the path.
At one end of the National Park is the Kröller-Müller Museum, built when the park was created for the wife of the pair. It is a moderately sized art museum with a varied collection of art and a large statue garden. Photography without flash is permitted, so I had the chance to take pictures of some of my favorites. I can’t really do the museum justice, so I hope you’ll just check out some of the photos I took as a taste.
One of the statues I liked is the one pictured above. Its a huge fiberglass structure and walking on it give the illusion of being on another planet. I found it interesting, but it was too disorienting for some and we didn’t stay long. Also, it was very hot and bright on top of it because the tree could not provide enough cover.
That evening we went to a Japanese restaurant intending to have sushi, but ended up a Hibachi grill instead. Mom had a sprite because she was too nice to correct the waitress when there was confusion over her drink order. Afterward, Dan & I went back out to the Cuban restaurant for a couple of drinks.
Sundays are always a little tricky for tourists because fewer things are open. So despite the drizzle, we decided to visit the Burgers’ Zoo. Dan & I frequent visit zoos; they’re one of our favorite attractions and we like to see the different habitats each place creates for its animals. We went early to avoid the crowds and hoping to catch the animals while they were still active.
We were met at the door by the sound of braying penguins (who knew penguins could bray) and headed to the back of the park so we could work our way forward. We thought that there was a safari ride but only found a path. I think what makes the Burgers’ Zoo different from other ones are its distinct habitats designed to show visitors the environments that different species live in. There are Safari, Desert, Bush, Rimba, Mangrove, and Ocean habitats.
The most impressive was the Ocean habitat. It was designed to make you feel like you were walking to the bottom of the ocean from the shore. At the bottom is a fiberglass tunnel in which the fish, sharks, and rays can swim all around you. It was both amazing and disorienting; the fish seemed to be floating through the air above my head.
We wrapped out our visit with an early dinner and then Dan & I went home while my parents prepared for their last few days in the Netherlands.
We’ll hopefully be podcasting all about our adventures with the Mallons soon. In the mean time, here are my photos from Arnhem. Enjoy!