Introduction. We’d been stationed in Heidelberg for less than a year. Our four sons (ages 15, 14, 12 and 11) were starting their first summer vacation in Germany. Like most teenagers, they were not very interested in travel focused on history, art, or scenery, so we tried to plan a family trip that would appeal to them. We decided on The Netherlands because we thought they’d be interested in the castles, canals, dikes, and open-air museums we could visit.
Saturday, 13 June. We loaded up our 1965 Mercedes 300 SEL and left Heidelberg around 07:00. With autobahns all the way, we reached Arnhem about noon and checked into the Rembrandt Hotel. We left right away for Burger’s Safari Park, stopping along the road to eat the lunch we’d brought with us.
The Park had just opened in 1968 as a Lion Park (the first in Europe) and became a Safari Park when other animals were added the next year. Of course, the area was surrounded by a high fence. We drove through the gate which closed behind us. (Admission was 10 guilders per car - $3.60.) We were all excited that we were driving right in with the animals.
The lions were the main attraction. There were also several tigers and cheetahs. We drove into a pride of at least ten lions and stopped the car. They were lying and roaming all around us. Soon after, a small truck pulled up near us. The driver opened the window and began throwing large pieces of meat to the lions. Naturally, they flocked around the truck. Obviously trying to put on a show for us, the driver flipped some chunks of meat onto the roof of his truck, and soon there was a lion standing on the cab. When the truck left, we finally moved on.
Another section of the park was landscaped like a savannah, and there were giraffes, zebras, antelopes, rhinoceroses, and various African birds. Much to our surprise, it was a bird that turned out to be the greatest hazard we encountered in the park.
While we were parked watching the giraffes, there suddenly was a loud thud on the rear window. We all turned to see a large ostrich attacking the window with its beak. It was striking so hard that we were afraid it was going to break the window. I started the car and moved slowly away, but the ostrich followed right along, still pecking the rear window. It finally gave up on us and went after the car in front of us.
From the Safari Park, we drove to the Netherlands Open Air Museum, designed to preserve and showcase rural buildings, furnishings, costumes, and equipment from all regions of the country. It contains about 60 buildings on a 100-acre site. Most of the buildings had been moved from their original sites to the Museum. We visited all the houses, windmills and workshops. Even the boys found it interesting, and it gave them a chance to run around between buildings.
By now it was nearly 17:00, and we’d already had a very full day. Nevertheless, the sun wouldn’t set for hours this far north in June, so we hopefully drove to the Biblical Foundation’s Holy Land Park, just outside Nijmegen. As we feared, though, it was just closing. We drove back to Arnhem and had dinner in a restaurant across the street from our hotel. A special treat was fresh strawberries for dessert. We were all tired and glad to get to bed early.