I just finished the tour through the Arnhem area. I was so busy, it prevented me from updating daily. Having 50, fifth grades from a school with you on the trip doesn’t lend itself to free time. I should have remembered this fact from when I ran student tours in the 90’s.
Let me give a quick overview:
The second day was a bike tour of a huge natural preserve near Arnhem. We biked about 30 miles. I am attaching a picture of the bike I used, one speed with a coaster brake. I am amazed that I made it on this steel monster. In the middle of the wild life preserve, is a museum with the largest Van Gogh collection outside of the Van Gogh family. The preserve it self was amazing the diversity of landscape from sand dunes to forest to open field. It is truly a place I will have to visit again minus the children
The third day I went to Arnhem proper and toured the old town. Our tour guide was, Susan, an older lady who described to us the Battle of Arnhem and the “Bridge to Far” from the top of the church tower that offered a panorama view of the city and a direct view of the Bridge. She invited me back on 16 September to the annual remembrance of the Battle of Arnhem. If I have time I will try to go there.
The fourth day was another bike day of about 15 miles. We pedaled along the Rhine to Castle Doonawerth (sp? my Dutch is not up to par). It was a history of the local area from the building of the castle to present. I think it was one of the best castles I have been to. It was remarkable as the facade was all brick work, with a moat and gate house. The tour was interactive so the students I was with enjoyed themselves. Best of all and meets my gold standard: The castle had its own coffee shop! Fantastic!
The second part of the day took us to the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek. Our tour guide was a witness (survivor) of the Battle of Arnhem. Jans Loob, the guide was absolutely incredible. The level of detail from his recollection was enthralling for the entire hour he spoke. At 80 years old, he was in great health and could probably still bench press me.
I failed to point out that on this tour it was determined that I should be the one leading the ride. I forewarned the field trip leadership that I am an expert on finding short cuts and new routes that add hours to the ride. I am so good at this I do it naturally. They were undaunted, however after the fourth new route plan (very scenic) I think there was regret in their decision.
The final day we went to the Burger Zoo in Arnhem Note: for my American Friend s Burger means something like people or citizen not a place that they hold captive Big Mac’s. I am not a fan of zoos. I just don’t find them interesting, however this one was remarkable. They had created huge indoor ecosystems simulating the American SW desert, the jungles of SE Asia and an Aquarium. In the Desert it was dry and warm, I saw all the animals I would expect , to include Road Runners literally running along side me. I think what sold me on the zoo and made me decide to move onto the next area was the vulture that was flying overhead. While I really enjoyed the students, I would not put them past playing a joke on me and staking me down. Just to see what the vulture might do.
Overall I had a great tour with the British, Canadian, American, German, Scandinavian and Latvian students that I went with. They were a good group of students.
There was one side affect however for full disclosure…. the German students have decided to call me Herr Schnitzel. I guess seven years (Crystal’s tour length) I will just have to smile and wave, when a German student approaches me, smile and wave.
Today was my first day with the fifth graders out of AFNORTH ES. There was about a two hour drive up to the Youth Hostel. The Youth Hostel itself is one of the nicer I have stayed in.
The first day we did a walking tour of an open air museum. It has a bunch of historic buildings, equipment and artifacts depicting life in the Netherlands. All of the buildings are original having been pulled from across the Netherlands. The museum had an active – meaning made on site, bakery, papermill, weaver, blacksmith, shipwright, farmers (all sorts), trains (historic street cars circa 1910). I thought it was a great experience.
I got some good photos of windmills.
I spoke with several of the students and could not find from them a downside to the tour.
In the evening the children and adults were sized for bicycles.
I was quite surprised when I found out I would be pedaling a one speed for 50 KM tomorrow morning. The bike has a coaster brake only, no toe clips/cleats…. I am not sure I have been on a steel monster like this in 20 years. It will be an interesting ride. Up side I have 8 hours to do the ride.
that is all for now.
I am back in the Netherlands. For the next week, I will be on a five day field trip with the fifth grade students (British, Canadian, German and American) from AFNORTH ES. We will stay in Arnhem, NL at a Youth Hostel. It will be like having a flashback to my old days in Wuerzburg, running the Teen Trips across Europe. Only thing better is I am not the one organizing it. The AFNORTH School leadership organized it.
The students will bicycle a couple of days and tour a nearby Van Gogh museum. I am not sure but I hope we will get to see some of the WWII sites. I haven’t seen the itinerary. I also think they have to keep a journal.
As I was preparing, I basically forgot how to pack for youth trips. I used to have a bag pre-packed with trip clothes and gear. We will see how good I did.
More to follow