Category Archives: Netherlands

Monkey on child's shoulder

Free-Roaming Monkeys

Apeldoorn is a city in the Netherlands about an hour drive east of Amsterdam; it is the home of Apenheul primate park.  This is a park where, in many cases, the primates roam freely, interacting with the park guests if they so choose.  Even the species which have new young are loose and free to roam among the park visitors; they are simply unafraid of humans.  The larger primates, orangutans and gorillas for example, are intentionally kept at a safe distance from visitors.

Monkeys are naturally curious and the residents of Apenheul have learned to look in pockets, purses, backpacks, strollers, etc. because there might be food or other items of interest which they will take.  They  don’t hesitate to climb on park visitors, usually in an attempt to find and steal treasures, anything from tissues to lip balm to snacks.  As you might imagine, none of this is healthy for the monkeys to ingest.  But they do so anyway.

Monkey on person's arm

Apenheul

On a recent visit, one small monkey cautiously climbed up the arm of a member of our party.  The monkey then quickly looked in the hoodie pocket and finding nothing leapt to the out-stretched arm of a nearby gentleman.  The monkey quickly peeked inside the man’s breast pocket, found a roll of Smarties candy, grabbed it, jumped to the ground and raced off!

There are signs throughout the park stating that we aren’t to feed the monkeys and additionally, we are not allowed to eat food while wandering through the park because the monkeys will snatch it right out of our hand.  There are specific food-safe zones where the monkeys do not visit.  It is here we are allowed to eat food purchased from a park café as well as snacks we brought into the park (a completely acceptable practice).

In an effort to prevent the monkeys from ingesting contraband, the park offers free use of monkey-proof bags and encourages visitors to store all of their belongings in these large, heavy-duty, canvas, zippered bags which may then be carried throughout park.  At the entrance to the park, there are also lockers in which belongings not needed during the visit may be stored free of charge.

While Apenheul didn’t even garner a mention in our tour book – a glaring omission in my opinion – it is a wonderful place to visit for people of all ages.  The monkeys are not only cute but downright entertaining!

Amsterdam

We are staying near The Hague, Netherlands so we drove about 45 minutes to a park & ride outside of Amsterdam where we caught a tram to the Central Station.  We could have taken public transportation from The Hague but it would have been 20-30 Euro/person; with the three of us it made more sense to drive much of the way and then park!

Figuring out the Park & Ride ticket machine was the first challenge of the day!   Continue reading

Keukenhof Gardens

IMG_2673IMG_2636A feast for the eyes and a balm to the soul.  I couldn’t take enough pictures!  The Netherlands has been growing tulips for 400 years and those Dutch people know how to ‘do’ bulbs!  Centuries ago, tulips were so valuable that a single bulb was worth as much as a canal house in Amsterdam!  At Keukenhof Gardens (near Lisse, Netherlands) 100 participating companies showcase their living catalog of bulbs.  Every year, beginning in September, 7 million bulbs are planted – all by hand!  IMG_2625There are 30 gardeners and it takes 3 months to plant all the bulbs.  This park is only open for 8 weeks – during the bloom time of the bulbs:  daffodils, hyacinths and tulips.  When the park closes for the season all the bulbs are dug up and destroyed.

Hoping to avoid crowds, we intentionally visited the park on a weekday and in addition to all the privately owned vehicles, there were 30 tour buses in the parking lot when we ended our visit.  However, with the exception of simply getting through the entrance, it never felt crowded.

IMG_2693On our drive from The Hague to the Keukenhof Gardens we passed numerous farm fields growing colorful bulbs.  It looked like a rainbow in the fields.  The Netherlands exports 45 million flowers…every day!

This post is dedicated to my friends who are anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring!