On our last day in Holland, we drove an hour east to visit an unusual monkey zoo. Recommended by a military friend, we were delighted with Apenheul, an oasis for primates about an hour’s drive from Amsterdam. Ticket prices might seem a bit pricey (19.50euro/adult), but I have to say it was well worth it. Upon entry, visitors receive a descriptive walking map of the grounds along with a monkey-proof bag–a backpack for backpacks so tricky monkey fingers can’t get ahold of your snacks. So it came as no surprise that at the first stop, where we encountered the clever spider monkeys, they were instantly on our arms, heads and laps as we watched them try diligently to get at our food. Most of the stops along the path included informational presentations from zoo keepers about diet needs, social behavior and other helpful information about the animals in the zoo. Other animals were chimpanzees, lemurs, gorillas…all easily viewed from the platforms with very few obstructions to enjoy watching them. We spent about 5 hours at the zoo and enjoyed a delicious lunch while being entertained by peacocks.
Following a visit to the zoo, we drove to Friesland, a province in Northern Holland where my dad was born. His brother lives there and we had a great time touring the surrounding countryside and catching a glimpse of daily life in Holland. We enjoyed a great Indonesian meal and conversation on the back porch. Lilly had a great time entertaining Brownie the dog and Lilly managed to go into the ditch in the backyard as she threw Brownie’s frisbee into the water and tried to retrieve it. Lilly ended up happy that the accident happened because Akke had a pair of knit slippers from Great Grandma and Lilly quickly shed her wet shoes and slipped those handmade booties over her feet. Once it got dark, Uncle Ed set up a super strong telescope and we were able to look at Venus and Mars in the night sky. It was a surreal experience…here we were…Americans living in Germany, visiting family in Holland, looking at distant planets in our solar system. Imagine that!