20 September 2008

Rural landscapes

Two posts in three days? Why of course my friend!

The excursion today went really well, first we went to a 1930's radio station building near Apeldorn. The station was constructed by a famous Dutch architect and was used by the Germans after the Dutch surrendered. It was never bombed because the British had decoded the German messages. The building itself was interesting; it was an enormous concrete building that slightly resembled the Taj Mahal from a distance, my favorite parts were the sorrounding land and the rural landscape exhibition. The area had been completely deforested in the 19th Century for agriculture and quickly turned to a dessert complete with sand dunes. Starting at the turn of the century the government planted the area with many drought tolerant trees and now most of the area is new forest. The interesting thing though was that looking in one direction was the forest and in the other was the remainder of the desert and grasslands. Because of the new species that have adapted to the desert conditions they can't replant the area without loosing a tremendous source of biodiversity. The exhibit inside featured unique landscapes throughout Europe, including: the "green-line"- a strip of undeveloped land at the border between the former Soviet Union and Europe, a series of lakes in Holland created to deter invaders, and many others. The exhibit gave examples of unique landscapes and explained how they were being preserved and why they needed to be preserved.
Afterwards we went to the National Park de Hoge Veluwe and the Kroller Muller Museum inside. The park was nice, they had white bicycles for visitors to tour the grounds on and the area was just as diverse as at the radio station. Within a few hundred meters one could find sand dunes, forest, and grassland. The Kroller Muller Museum was the highlight with its Cezanne, Monet, Millet, Toulouse-Lautrec, and of course Van Gogh paintings. It's quite a suprise to find so many masterpieces in a museum in the middle of a national park. The paintings were great but my favorites were Van Gogh's "Blades of grass" and "Wheat field with reaper and sun", above. I think I actually enjoyed this museum more than the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam.

Thanks for reading, Andrew

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