Fun in the Upside Down

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‘It’s dark, cold and foggy; it is overgrown with ropy, root-like tendrils’ – welcome to the Biesbosch – a vast wetland network in the South of the Netherlands.  It is home to many birds and animals including the beaver!

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The Beaver Forest

There were a number of walking trails of various distances one can follow.  We picked the 4 km trail.  But first things first, be warned of possible rotten willow trees – they can fall off.  And here’s Julia warning his Tats about it as she remembered it well from the movie The Jungle book where Mowgli tricked Shere Khan into climbing a dead branch to save himself.  But Tats would have none of it – so one moment he was smiling up the willow tree and the next he was on the ground.  Luckily besides his ego, he wasn’t seriously hurt.  Now there’s a real life lesson for Julia: before you think of climbing a tree, think about what happened to Tats.

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Just before the willow tree crumbled under Tats weight.

Bad luck for Tats, spooky place – the kids thought, but what surreal beauty. IMG_0283IMG_0288IMG_0293

After the walk we had a hearty lunch at the visitor center – very traditional Dutch green pea soup with brown bread on the side.  The visitor center itself had exhibits containing a wealth of information about the national park.

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After lunch we took a boat tour navigating the winding, sometimes narrow water ways for a different vantage point of the Biesbosch – the forest mirrored in the water.

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One would think that the harsh winter would have left this area barren but the varied landscape was fascinating – beds of reeds, trimmed willow trees, untrimmed willow trees and in the middle of nowhere a small cabin and the workers trimming the willow trees sunning themselves.IMG_0350IMG_0357IMG_0360

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Over beaver-shaped cookies and hot chocolate, we learned of the St. Elizabeth’s flood which pretty much shaped the landscape that we see today.

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Speaking of floods and its impact on Holland – which is mostly below sea level, one such big flood was the North Sea flood of 1953, a disaster so terrible the Dutch government was compelled to build the Delta Works – the Dutch defense against storm surges and flooding.  From the Biesbosch we drove westward to the Delta park to learn more about this unparalleled feat of engineering.

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The Delta park is an amusement park with the Delta works as the main attraction. The park I can imagine would be full during summer as a huge part of it is for water activities.  There were also some playgrounds, an aquarium and a seal show – where the two seagulls stole the show for me.  They had to behave and be quiet in their designated spots while the seals performed and then they also got their ‘fish reward’ – how often do you see trained seagulls?

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Across the park one can get up close to the Delta works and learn how the Dutch engineered their flood defense system.  Kuya was all smiles – look at those gigantic claws!

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