Field Trip to Arnhem

A Steel Monster

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.

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About baileyaj

American living overseas in the Netherlands.

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