As it turns out, there is a huge monkey park in the Netherlands, only about an hours drive from where we live, called De Apenheul. The zoo started in 1971 and is completely dedicated to monkeys. They have large groups of gorilla, orang-gutan, chimpanzee and last but not least over 200 squirrel monkeys running freely within the park just to mention a few good reasons to visit. I just knew I had to see this place once I heard of it and made Rob and my friend Marleen tag along even if it was sunday and odds were the park would be really busy. As we entered the park we were asked to put our personal belongings in special monkeyproof bags, to avoid harming the squirrel monkeys – I think the bags looked kind of cool so that was no problem at all ^^
We kept on going and after just a few meters we saw a squirel monkey with a little baby holding on to her back climbing on eager visitors. I stretched out my arm and just like that she moved on to me 🙂 I managed to give her to Marleen as well before she jumped on to the next person. This all went very quickly so it was hard for us to get good photos. We were really happy to experience this though and amazed to have done so within 5 minutes of entering the park.
We moved on to watch the orang-utans that were in a really large area consisting of several islands. I was really impressed with just how large the group of animals was and I got quite a few nice shots of them climbing around.
There was even a really cute baby 🙂
We moved on to watch the keepers feed the gorillas. Again I was amazed with just how large the family was, not to mention how big the leader of the group, Jambo is:
After walking around watching all the different kinds of monkeys in the park, we decided to go back to the start of the trail and see if we could manage to have one of the squirrel monkeys climb on us again. We were in luck, and one of the slightly bigger ones decided to play with us for a while. After trying to steal Marleens earring without sucess (we managed to steal it back just before his friend ran off with it) he tried to get into my monkeyproof bag. This also didn’t work out so he settled for climbing on me for a little while instead 🙂
This park is definitely worth a visit, but I do reccomend to try and avoid sundays – it was a bit too crowded when we went there.
The Dutch have their own tradition in December (in addition to Christmas) called Sinterklaas. It does seem to be a little similar to Christmas in some ways, but there are also several key differences:
- Sinterklaas is not from the North Pole, he is from Spain
- Sinterklaas does not drive a magical sledge, he has a ship
- Sinterklaas does not have magical elfs helping him, he does however have a sidekick called Black Pete
- If you are naughty you not only don’t get any presents, you actually have to come back to Spain with Sinterklaas and Black Pete :O
Im sure there is a lot more as well, but I am new to all of this so Im sorry about any mistakes, hehe.
Rob and I thought it would be fun to celebrate this special event with both of our families, and they were all on board 🙂 My parents, sister and brother all flew over from Norway to celebrate with us last weekend, and Rob’s parents and sister all made traditional snacks and drinks that they brought over for the special evening (that we decided to have last saturday so that everybody could make it).
Beforehand everybody had to draw a name, and become that person’s secret santa. The idea was to buy the person you got assigned a larger gift, and just buy small gifts for everyone else. The tradition is to also make a special wrapping for the larger gift, something most of us didn’t do, but my secret santa did really well:
Rob’s dad made this wrapping, as you can see it is flowers with the Norwegian and the Dutch flags 🙂 he also wrote me a really sweet letter. I think we all had a great time, and I know that I speak on behalf of my family as well when I say that this was a great way for us to experience Sinterklaas! 🙂
A few days ago I moved in with Rob here in Almere Haven, the Netherlands. I don’t think it has really hit me yet that I live here now, but I do like to be here so far 🙂 Rob was very sweet to me when I arrived, giving me flowers and making dinner – definitely a keeper that one ^^
My first weekend has been pretty social, saturday we had dinner with Rob’s dad, stephmother and sister and sunday we met up with his cousin and his cousin’s girlfriend, had lunch and went to central Almere. It is such a relief to see that dutch people eat more or less the same food as Norwegians and have more or less the same hobbies. Going back to Oslo to visit won’t be hard either due to the short distance and low airfares. I don’t think living here will be a problem at all 🙂