I heard about De Hoge Veluwe National Park from a Belgian couple we met here in Premantura. We were talking about Cape Kamenjak, a protected landscape just next to the village; and how cool it would be if the area was closed for cars, and if there were free bikes offered to visitors instead. It sounded so efficient, so sustainable, so northern: they talked about a national park in The Netherlands that had white bikes included in the entrance price and scattered all over the park for visitors to take them or drop them off whenever they want.
I forgot about that story until we ended up roadtripping trough Belgium and The Netherlands last October (I already wrote about sailing the canals of Utrecht in my previous post). After a quick research, I found out that the park is situated just about an hour drive from Utrecht, or more specifically, Zeist, were we stayed in a wonderful AirBnb. Lucky coincidence for us was that (as we found out from our lovely hosts), the park was home to the Kroller-Muller museum, which hosts the second largest Van Gogh collection in the world, some well known masterpieces from modern masters such as Monet or Picasso, and has one of the biggest sculpture gardens in the world. And that was a great alternative to Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam which was vaguely in our plans, but in the end we decided to leave Amsterdam for next time.
The morning of our daytrip didn't start promising- it was grey and foggy; heavy rain kept following us during the entire drive to the park. And then, as we approached the park, the sun showed up and stayed for a while, perfectly enough for us to take an exiciting bike ride trough the park and enjoy this peculiar landscape covered with everchanging skies. The moment we got off the bikes in front of the museum, the first raindrops fell, but we didn't mind. We had the entire afternoon to marvel at Van Gogh's Potato eaters and Country road in Provence by night, quite a nice collections of Paul Signac (one of Luka's favorite painters) and Odilon Redon (one of my favorite painters); even some Croatian artists, such as Dusan Dzamonja are represented. It is a good place to get to know some of the (not as well known as Van Gogh, but still amazing) Dutch and Belgian artists such as Theo van Rysselberghe, and all in all, it is an impressive collection ranging from modern to contemporary art.
The boundaries between nature and exhibition space are kind of blurred here, with tall glass walls that allow you to enjoy the greenery of the park from the inside and the sculptures that found their place in the sun in the park surrounding the museum. Approaching that museum in the middle of the wood seemed like a treasure hunt to us.
Visiting De Hoge Veluwe is a combination of spending an active day out in the nature and soaking up the culture in beatiful, natural setting. The cycling roads are paved and used by bikers and walkers only, crisscrossing a diverse and mostly flat (Yay! for a relaxing bike ride) landscape, ranging from yellowish grassland to pine tree woods with rich earthy scent and a lot of mushrooms (we even saw a couple of agarics, which looked exactly like Christmas decorations). Amazing alternative to a day in the city, and you still get that essential Dutch experience!
How about you? Have you ever visited this or some other interesting place where art and nature meet?
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