Today we had out last ‘excursion’ together (tear)! We woke up early and took a bus about two hours away from Leiden to the Het Loo palace in Apeldoorn. It is a former hunting lodge of the Dutch royal family.
Since it was just a hunting lodge it really wasn’t that big in comparison to say Versailles but nonetheless it was beautiful. The rooms were kept almost exactly as they were when the family used the palace. The last person to live there was the current Queen’s grandfather who was an avid hunter. There was an enormous bear skin rug (with the HUGE head still attached) in one of the rooms. One of the workers at the palace told us it was a brown bear from North America. He also had a room full of dear heads, antlers, etc which was rather creepy. This weekend is quite a ‘royal’ weekend in Europe. Not only are William and Kate getting married in England but in the Netherlands they celebrate Queen Beatrix’s birthday although her actual birthday is January 31st; the actual Queen’s birthday that was on 30th of April was Queen Juliana. So, tomorrow is a national holiday in the Netherlands. We will be dressing up in our orange and having all sorts of fun! Back to our adventure today… the palace was BEAUTIFUL and made me wish I had an elaborate palace to live in. Sigh. The ‘backyard’ was a large, elegant garden with several fountains.
After seeing the palace and the gardens we saw what used to be the stables, the cars and carriages the family once used. All of which were beautiful and so stinkin’ expensive looking. When we were finished here we got back on the bus and headed to Kröller-Müller which was about 15 minutes away from Het Loo. I had no idea what to expect. I had Googled it before we left but I was under the impression it was just a museum. But, in reality it is a nature reserve (De Hoge Veluwe National Park), a rather large one, as well as a museum. I can’t really describe the terrain that well so I’m going to post a pictures so you can get an idea.
It truly did not feel like we were in the Netherlands. The park/museum had bikes for us to use so we rode around for a good 2 hours stopping every once in a while to take pictures like these:
As you can see we had a wonderful time. It was beautiful weather as well. Earlier in the week they were predicting rain so we were ecstatic they were wrong (but what else is new). After our bike ride and photo shoots we made our way back to the museum. Upon arrival we learned that it has the second largest collection of Van Gogh in the world. We also learned that we (by we I mean most Americans) butcher Van Gogh’s name. The museum was very contemporary and the current exhibits were well… a little unusual. The artists used strange mediums such as parrot semen (don’t ask me how he acquired that because I don’t know), blood (his own), urine (also his own), thumb tacks, nails, as well as bugs (from China). Needless to say this section of the museum was interesting. Here are some examples:
There were also classic artists (a lot of Van Gogh like I mentioned earlier) and sculptures in this museum- it was quite large. There were also massive sculptures outside in the gardens. Unfortunately, there was a large group of French middle schoolers at the museum while we were there. One thing we all were shocked by was seeing some of them smoking. That’s something I’ll never get used to. It’s going to be nice to be around less cigarette smoke when I get back to the US. When we were finished walking around the museum we all sat outside on the grass and enjoyed the sunshine. One of our professors even showed us some of his Japanese gymnastics- he learned it in Japan 10 years ago. He stood on his head! As you can see today was a WONDERFUL day! I had such an amazing time and I’m getting really sad about leaving. Tomorrow is Queen’s Day so we’re going to enjoy ourselves and celebrate our time in the Netherlands!
^Pictures are here if you’re interested!