Raj: Today we left Germany which I thoroughly enjoyed. Staying outside the main cities allowed us to take in more of the traditions, surroundings and gain a better feel for the areas we visited. Sausages and beers were among the highlights and thoroughly enjoyed!
We are now in The Netherlands for 5 nights, staying 15km outside Amsterdam. Driving through what struck immediately was the agricultural setting, very similar to NZ with plenty of sheep and cows to be seen grazing on large open spaces. There were also a lot of windmills and an increasing number of bicycles on the road as we passed through residential areas, consistent with Holland's sustainable approach to living.
On our way we stopped in the remote area of Herwijnen to visit Bart, Willemijn and their kids (Nando, Remi, Zita and Manoe), a family we met by chance while camping in Austria, when their youngest daughter (Manoe) injured her hand. Over 8 years they have created and developed an educational attraction called GeoFort, an exciting fortress in the New Dutch Waterline. We spent the afternoon exploring and learning about cartography and navigation in a very fun and interactive way, both indoors and outdoors. The maze (where you had to find your way out using smell), walking through dark tunnels, and creating building structures using wooden blocks which were tested every few minutes in an earthquake simulation, were just a few of the highlights.
We stayed on for a few drinks and dinner (curry!) afterwards, and had a thoroughly enjoyable day. Bart, Willemijn and family, thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality. You have created something very special which are grateful to have experienced. I hope one day you can make it to Wellington, NZ. We'd love to have you stay and show you around. I think your venture would be a huge success in NZ also, so maybe you could do some research "down under"(as we say) sooner rather than later!