A Day In ‘s-Hertogenbosch: The Best Things To Do In Den Bosch

Whether you’re visiting the Netherlands and Amsterdam is your base or perhaps live here and are looking for something different to do, you should consider a trip to Den Bosch.

I’ve put together posts on my recent trips to Delft, Den Haag/Scheveningen & Rotterdam, therefore, I thought I should put together one on Den Bosch.  Plus it is my “adopted” home city here in the Netherlands for the past 2+ years.   After you read this post hopefully, you’ll agree, it’s worth spending one day [or even a weekend] here in charming Den Bosch.

Den Bosch is a city in the South of the Netherlands.  Officially named ‘s-Hertogenbosch, except during Carnival when it becomes Oeteldonk and as you may witness the entire city turns “rood, wit & geel“!  Red and white refer to the checkered flag of the province of Noord-Brabant, yellow and white allude to the Pope. Moreover, red represents fire, love, and blood and yellow (or gold) represents richness and purity; white (or silver) then stands for wisdom.

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It is a small, yet charming city and because of its size, it is a city you can easily see and enjoy in just one day.  But it is large enough you can make a weekend out of it.  More historical information on Den Bosch can be found online on these wiki pages herehere and of course, tons more in the Brabants Historich Informatie Centrum (bhic.nl) located at the Citadel.

WHY DEN BOSCH WORTH VISITING?

While Den Bosch has a fair amount of tourists coming through, it certainly is not as popular as Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, or even one of the smaller cities like Haarlem, Delft or Leiden.  And those of us who live here are thankful for that.  Most tourists stick to Amsterdam as their to-go destination for short trips as it has incredible architecture, endless canals, lovely atmosphere, countless world-renowned museums, vibrant nightlife, and let’s face it, Amsterdam really the BEST choice of restaurants.

Sure, occasionally in Den Bosch, we have “foreign tourists” walking about but mostly the tourists I see, as a person living here, are other Dutch visitors coming from different areas of the country for a weekend trip of shopping & dining.   I’ve been told that people love to come to discover the “Bossche hospitality and the unique Burgundian culture”.  According to this article in the Dutch News, the city ranks #1 with the proudest locals.

Den Bosch is a city that has a bit of everything.  Beautifully historic cobblestoned streets, a handful of museums, a stunning cathedral, trendy cafes/bars, and restaurants, abundance of boutiques, and a few iconic Dutch canals which are luckily not filled with private boats.  Then again, I’d personally love to own a little boat (or a boat share) and go around the canals like I see locals do in Amsterdam and Utrecht.  So cozy!!

Den Bosch is known for its many festivals, events, and the huge part the city plays in the Dutch carnival every year – “Oeteldonk” being the most popular.   The frog aka Kikker is the symbol – so be sure to stop in the ‘ Opkikkertje Markt 38 for a visit & see the crazy collection of frogs.  I have a friend who hates frogs and this place skeeves her out! 🙂

If you are coming to the Netherlands, consider including it as a day trip away from the madness of Amsterdam – it’s only 55 minutes on a non-stop train from Amsterdam Central station!

WALKABLE CITY

Den Bosch is a very walkable city.  We do not have a tram or a Metro –  you walk or bike everywhere it’s that small.  When you get off the train or bus at Central Station, you simply walk straight out past the famous golden dragon fountain and you’ll be in the Markt in no time.  [Not to confuse you, the dragon is currently housed in the Noordbrabants Museum courtyard while the fountain is being renovated.]  Of course, you can rent an OV-Fiets at the station but it’s not necessary if you want to just stick to the city centre.

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WALKING TOUR

A great way to discover the secrets of the city and take in the beautiful architecture is with a guided walking tour.  Unfortunately, GPSMycity.com doesn’t have walking tours like they do in Delft or Rotterdam or two dozen other Dutch cities.   But I think we can all agree, there is no better way to learn about a city than from someone who knows it like the back of their hand.

The tourist information center VVV, organizes guided tours on Saturdays at 2.30pm. The tours last 1 hour and 15 minutes and five people need to have signed up for them to go ahead.  So, make sure you sign up on time! You’ll find the tourist VVV) at the Markt in a little building called – De Moriaan (will write about it below just above the music cafe P79)

Den Bosch VVV
Photo Credit: Auteursrecht

If you fancy discovering the city by yourself, just grab a map at the VVV and then go get lost in the tiny streets filled with cute boutiques.   There are some free maps and they also offer some more detailed walking and biking maps starting at €2.95.   In any case, walking around the city and taking in the sights is a must!

Alternatively, you can also check the Free Den Bosch Walking Tours Facebook page to see if Cora is offering tours when you are visiting.  They were canceled due to Corona but I saw they started up again but capping at 12 people and you need a reservation.   I blogged about them before here – highly recommend her tours.  She is a high school teacher but her family is from Den Bosch so is very  Speaking of tours there is another new tour of the city now – a bike tour.

DEN BOSCH BIKE TOURS

While I have not yet done this, I have read about a post from a different blogger Bossche Buik, who offers the Den Bosch Bike Tours.

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Photo credit: denboschbiketours

Her review (in Dutch only) makes it look fun and something fun to do with a group.    If I ever end up doing it with some friends, I’ll be sure to post here.  The highlight tour is 8 km and takes about 2 hours.   You can book online for €22.   They also rent their bikes per day for €10 so an alternative for an ov-fiets – nicer looking and you’re supporting a local entrepreneur. 

STEPSPEURTOCHT & OUTINGS

While I’ve never done this or do I have any interest in this, I’ve seen groups of people going around the city on red steps doing the Stepspeurtocht.

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Doe Den Bosch does this and other activities to do around the city like Solex riding.  These are mostly done by hen & stag parties but have other things geared towards families too like Bossche Bol making,  Escape Room, and even a Cluedo City Game.

TOUR THE CANALS BY BOAT

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If you’re visiting the city between the months of April and October, you can book a boat tour through Den Bosch canals. It’s a really fun and unique way to see the city and experience the canals in a different way. If you’re visiting outside of those months (or aren’t interested in the boat tour) you can be walking down a few streets and see some of the canals such as Molenstraat and behind the Hinthamstraat.

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The river Binnendieze was also used as water supply, a place for laundry and fishing, and as a waste yard. Up until 40 years ago, the river used to be an open sewer. Due to the construction of a sewage system, the river Binnendieze almost disappeared. This was prevented in 1972, when the Binnendieze was recognized as a protected city area. Only 4 kilometers, out of the original 22, remains. The water underneath the city now is one of the biggest tourist attractions of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

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We did this a few times – last time our friends were in from Ireland we did a different route but the boys were able to take turns steering the boat – once we got outside the city walls – they LOVED this.

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Tours are only in Dutch. However, a (written) translation in English is available at the information desk or online in PDF format.

If you do take the tour, just an FYI – the boats and tours are organized by volunteers who are simply passionate and do this in their free time so tip them a couple euros per person for their time and effort, when possible.

But unlike many of the larger cities, we only have one canal with a couple living boats, (small haven) we don’t have rows and rows of canals like you do in the bigger cities and many of them are under buildings and houses so that adds to the uniqueness. Also, it’s prohibited to drive a private boat around the inner city canals.

BOAT AROUND THE CITY

There are other options to go around the city and beyond like Heusden and beyond.   You can rent your own boat at Sloepvaren Den Bosch and Zelf Varen Den Bosch, including cute swans, but you can take more organized trips at these companies you can go on an organized excursion on the Rederij Wolhuis and Zoete Lieve Gerrit.

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Doing some searchings, I found the Donutboat – I think this would be the one my kids would prefer.

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BASTION ST. JOHN

As you are coming from the station into the city, as you pass over the first canal (well Dommel) you cross a bridge. Look down immediately right and you’ll see the Bolwerk Sint Jan.  In 1528 Bastion St. John was constructed. The city wall used to have an entrance gate, Koepoort, which at the time was a fragile point at ‘s-Hertogenbosch’ defense. Therefore, Bastion St. John was built. In 2015 the fortification is expanded and is now home to a brand new information point. Bastion St. John is located next to St. Johns canal.  In there, you’ll find the café Bolwerk Sint Jan – enjoy a drink or a meal and watch the boats pass.   In fact, we were recently having a drink and some nibbles there with the kids and saw a few going by.  You can SUP on that water and rent a boat from a couple companies and go around the outside of the city walls.  This is on my bucket list of things to do this summer”. 

DINING OPTIONS

The one thing we don’t have a shortage of is cafes, bars & restaurants.  You have so many choices here – just deciding on the place to go will be the hardest part – I’d say first decide on the area you want.

KORTE PUTSTRAAT

The Korte Putstraat is not only characterized by the diversity of catering establishments, but the atmosphere can also be called idyllic and almost village-like. 

Here is a <a href=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/192880257?color=f00024&title=0&byline=0&portrait=0De Korte Putstraat Den Bosch from August Louis on Vimeo.

“>video to see the vibe.”>video.

Some of my favorite places to dine on the KP are Allerlei & Visserij, Brasserij Breton,  Oh and just for the summer, Zoete Lief has a rooftop terrace worth checking out.  Haven’t been but on my list 🙂  I highly highly recommend you look on the KP website, find the place you want to eat, then book a table.  Waking up on a busy night, you’ll find yourself disappointed and turned away.

UILENBURG

 

Is closer to the station, I like this area a lot but it can get very loud. While I like where I live, this is my second favorite area and home to La Folie Antiek. .   It’s also the area where you board the canal tours so if you are going on the boat, try and find time for a drink on a terrace before.    Some of my favorite places are:  I’ve bee wanting to try Hello My Friend Bar but never quite got there yet.   I enjoy a beer Cafe Reinders and Bar Le Ducalways enjoy support classmates parents of my children 🙂  

SNELLESTRAAT

Nom Nom was the first place I met my friend Carrie – we had lunch there and of course, during Carnival, I love this street.  Eet Bar DIT and Meat (around the corner, Legends Sports Bar and Bobby’s Gin Bar are here too.  This street is also home of my daughter’s best friend, so it’s extra special.

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I NEVER go out on this street – to me it’s where the “younger crowd goes (19 year olds – as a 46 year old, I am THE mom 🙂 ” but there are some options here.   The Stamp hotel is worth mentioning.

PARADE

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Just opposite the Sint Jan, this large square that hosts Oktoberfest, the Winter Paradise, the Kermis, and many other events each year.  It’s also home to the Parade theatre and a half dozen terraces.   I have never eaten in any of them only had a few drinks here & there so I cannot mention any worthy.  But just up the same street towards Hinthamstraat is Nul073 – I had lunch there not too long ago and enjoyed it.

NATURE AREAS NEARBY

We are very lucky to have a few lakes and different nature areas on so close.  Just on the edge of the south of the city is the Bossche Broek Nature Reserve.  One of the nicest things about living in the city centre is this nature reserve just on the city’s edge.  You can walk, bike and birdwatch but you can also swim at the Zuiderplas.   A popular hotspot all ages – on warm days, you’ll find a good mix of older generation, families, and younger generation altogether.  There are even bathrooms and a beach bar that serves beer, ice cream, and snacks – a favorite of the kids.  There are other lakes in the area like Vught’s Ijzerenman, Rosmalen’s Groote Wielen, Strandbad Engelermeer, Oosterplaas and I’m sure there are more which I don’t know about.

Just a bit past the hospital is the Moerputten Nature Reserve when the bugs are not biting and the ground is not too muddy it’s worth a walk.   Fort Isabella in Vught is just down the street and of course, the Loonse en Drunense Duinen National Park is just a short drive or nice bike ride away – perfect for a day trip. 

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MUSEUMS

One of the most popular things to do in Den Bosch for visitors is to go to one of the museums.   They all off tours or you can visit at your own pace – I personally prefer going at my own pace.

Noordbrabants Museum

In addition to art, you can also learn about the history and culture of North Brabant at the Noordbrabants Museum.  I’ve only been here once, and that was when I accompanying Soren’s class so had to watch the kids more so than the art.  🙂  I’ll have to return again soon – heard they have a nice terrace too in the summer.

The tickets cost €15 for adults and kids under 18 are free.  And you can enter free with your Dutch Museumkaart.

Design Museum Den Bosch

Formerly called the Stedelijk Museum’s-Hertogenbosch, it is located in the same building as the Noordbrabants Museum so you can easily do both in the same day.  Here you’ll discover magnificent pieces of modern art by famous artists such as Picasso and Mendini and learn about the influence that art has on society.  In addition to the permanent collection, the museum features around ten contemporary exhibitions each year to demonstrate the cross-pollination that occurs between art and design. You can also attend lectures, concerts, and workshops.  They even do some kids workshops.

The tickets cost €10 for adults and kids under 17 are free.  And you can enter free with your Dutch Museumkaart.

Carnaval Museum

I visited this museum on time before when I was a chaperone for Maehb’s class during Oeteldonk – and it was great! Read about it here.  This museum while informative and is not that big so you only will spend about 1 hour there.  Take a tour with one of our host women/men, who will tell you all about the rich history and details of the carnival in your own way.  Find out everything about the carnival, also outside Oeteldonk – far beyond the borders.  A special overview of an (inter) national multi-colored party!

The tickets cost €7 for adults and kids under 3-12 are €3.50.  Dutch Museumkaart holders receive a 50% discount.

Oteldonk itself deserves its own post which is just far too time-consuming and well I don’t celebrate it enough to do it justice.  Here is one photo of a small group of us this year.  Note the dragon and the frog are actually Dutch :).  I’ll just add that Oeteldonk carnival has been discovered by tourists, who are dressed as clowns, monkies, strawberries, cows, and other odd costumes – but if you do come I’d suggest you NOT try and be one of those guys.  Chances are that some of the bars won’t let you in and you’ll be forced to buy cans from the local AH and drink on the street.    Oh and if you are not around in February, you can also witness the opening of the season “d’n Elfde van d’n Elfde” which takes place on 11/11 at 11:11 am at the Parade.  This only started is 2010 but it is now a huge day here in Den Bosch.

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This year my son was a frog in the Princess Carnival parade – he loved it!   

This day it was cold, windy and wet this year so I didn’t take many photos during the entire Carnival.

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If interested in knowing more, you can check out Cora’s post here about How to Make Sense of Oeteldonk and another one about the great stuff you’ll find the parade = Carnival Signs in Oeteldonk – Reading the Parade.

Here is a small collection of some photos of my daughter celebrating and the parade – she loves it!!

My neighbor, who is very active in Carnival, wrote a children’s book about Carnival, so you can check that out too!

De Wereld op zijn kop

Jheronimus Bosch Art Centre

In the centre of Den Bosch, in the former St Jacob’s Church, you’ll find the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center. A museum dedicated to the famous artist, Hieronymus Bosch, who was best known as an innovator of the pictorial tradition. This museum displays paintings and objects by this renowned artist that draw viewers into a world of fantastic creatures, faith, and symbols. Together with the interior of St Jacob’s Church, it makes for a “unique experience”.    You’ll find sculptures of his works throughout Den Bosch and once you see one, you’ll find them all around the city.

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Tickets cost €7.50 for adults.  Kids under 12 are €3.50   You cannot use your Museumkaart here.   But you do get FREE entrance to the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center with the Jheronimus Bosch boat tour.

SHOPPING

Of course, you have the major chain shops around Markt and the Hinthamerstraat (the main shopping street) but what Den Bosch has an abundance of are boutiques and concept stores, where you’ll find things that you can’t buy anywhere else!  For the best shops, you should visit Vughterstraat, Snellestraat, Verwersstraat, and Kerkstraat.  During Oeteldonk a visit to Hoofs is essential – even just to check out the merchandise.  .  On the Snellestraat you’ll find two shops Karakter & Wanderwood – both have beautiful items for you, your home, and great places for unique gifts. And there is the unique shop Boel Bazaar on the Hinthamerstraat.    Need a coffee or a smoothie to keep you going check out the urban jungle cafe Oerwoud or the new shop on the corner of the Vughterstraat and Schapenmarkt called PLANT.

MARKT

There is a lively market on Wednesdays and Saturdays in the center of the city (in the Markt square). You can find fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables, fish, textiles, and various other things. There is throughout a very laid back atmosphere.    Fridays there is a smaller organic market worth mentioning.

FAMOUS BOSSCHE BOLLEN

Den Bosch is known for its famous delicacy, the Bossche Bollen. A dough crust covered with chocolate, which is filled with the sweetest whipped cream. Essentially a huge profiterole.

DSC_8864Over the past few years, tourist trinkets to take home like socks, mugs, and even Christmas tree ornaments.  They have a display of items for sale at all of the VVV.

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Okay so now that I’ve said this I have to come clean – YES guilty – I do own the orange socks Bosse Bol socks.  I put a pair into the Xmas grab last year and I won them.  And yes, I do have a glass ornament for my tree, as I collect glass ornaments from places I visit.  So when a friend visited from Ireland, we both bought one for our trees.  But, NO, I have no mug – and am no not interested in that.

Now some places around town claim to have the “best Bossche Bol in the city” but the best place to get is the ORIGINAL bakery Jan de Groot near the central station.   You’ll see a long line – can take it to go or sit in their café – your choice.

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But either way, it’s an absolute must when in Den Bosch!  Even most of the attractions like a boat trip or the Giant Ferris wheel here for the summer season, which I’ll post about below, includes a drink a Bossche Bol.

SINT JANS CATHEDRAL

It’s hard to miss the massive cathedral in the city center.   This stunning cathedral was built between 1380 and 1520 and is an absolute must-visit when in Den Bosch.

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During the weekends and some days during the summer, you can climb the 43-meter tower.  A guide will show you during the ascent of the tower various points of interest: the belfry, the clock mechanism, and an exhibition showing the history, the fire of 1584, the construction, and restoration of the tower.  After a climb using small age-old stairs, you will be rewarded with a magnificent view of not only the city center and on a clear day the surrounding villages for miles around.  We took the tour on Tuesday afternoon and loved it.  There were 6 of us in total and the guide Nik, who was very informative.

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While the view is not as grand on the top as it was from the tour of the Dom Tower in Utrecht, but it is still lovely and worth the easy climb.

StarsStripesAndMayonnaise_DenBosch34StarsStripesAndMayonnaise_DenBosch40StarsStripesAndMayonnaise_DenBosch51StarsStripesAndMayonnaise_DenBosch33The exterior of this cathedral is highly ornate and features remarkable details.

StarsStripesAndMayonnaise_DenBosch7 They are constantly doing external repairs to the building due to toxic rain damage and it’s age – but do walk around and look for the angel with jeans and a cell phone!

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It’s free to enter the church and have a walk around – they do ask for a €2 donation on the way.    The cathedral is very active with weddings, funerals, and other activities around the Catholic holidays and during the winter holidays, they have quite a nativity scene display.    It’s a tradition for the schools to bring the children there to view it.  During the Christmas break 2016,  I took the kids to Den Bosch for the day and we visited the nativity scene.  I’ll never forget Soren asked if the confessional booth was for a “puppet show” – clearly we are not religious.

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As for the tour, you can book online as there are limited spaces available – and even less with Corona.   Tickets cost €6 for adults and €3 for kids ages 4-12.

Here are two videos I took during our visit to the top.

 

WHERE TO STAY IN DEN BOSCH

If you want to spend more then a day in Den Bosch there are options. Like every city, you can find accommodations ranging from a romantic bed & breakfast, a hip boutique hotel to an Airbnb, just search the web and you’ll find tons of options.

A few hotels I know about a few hotels have researched for out of town guests.  Book ahead if you’re visiting over a holiday weekend.

The Stamp, Boutique Hotel De Pauw , The Duke Hotel,  Golden Tulip Hotel Central

For something really totally unique, check out  De Bossche Kraan You get to sleep in an old crane looking out over the city.  Inside the yellow box, you have a double bed and a bathroom with a shower and toilet.  The shower room is

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equipped with bathrobes, towels, shampoo, shower gel, and a hairdryer. There is also a small kitchen with a refrigerator, coffee, and tea making facilities.  Breakfast is available at an additional cost but the accommodation includes 2 free bicycles.   How cool right?!

This whole Tramkade area has really changed in the last year.  It’s now called Kop Van t’ Zand and has a lot of old warehouses turned into shared workspaces and bars.   In the same area is Verkadefabriek – which is not new but worth visiting.  Also, Barkade and Bossche Brouwers.

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INTERSTING BUILDINGS IN DEN BOSCH

DE MORIAAN

This is the oldest brick house in the Netherlands. The house was built in the 13th century and now is home to VVV ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Tourist Information Centre) en P79, a bar located in the basement which hosts lots of cover bands.

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Den Bosch VVV
Photo Credit: Auteursrecht

The Moriaan was built in 1220 by duke Hendrik I van Brabant. At this time, more buildings were built in this shape. Nowadays, these buildings can no longer be recognized as such, or are demolished. In 1965, the municipality of ‘s-Hertogenbosch wanted to break down the Moriaan to make room for the traffic. However, this plan was refused by the minister. In the ’60 of the last century, the Moriaan was restored completely. Later, the building was recognized as a national monument. Would you like to visit the Moriaan? You can go inside, the local VVV (Tourist Office) will tell you all about the building and the city.

Credit: https://www.bezoekdenbosch.nl/

CITY HALL

Another place on the market square that is worth a visit is the Town Hall. It is located on the south side of the square next to the old Hudson’s Bay department store which is now Shoeby.

If you look up at the building you’ll see a special horse display which goes around on the hour.  When it goes off, we still stop and watch it. The present City Hall dates from 1670, and is in actual fact three connected residential housed. The interior of the City Hall is greatly decorated and furnished in several historic styles. Interested in visiting this building? Book a guided tour on a Wednesday here.   I’d like to do this tour in the near future, so when I do it, I’ll come back and post photos.

CITADEL

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Credit: BHIC.nl

The Citadel is a 17th-century structure. In 1637 this pentagonal fortification with ramparts was built at a strategic point where the rivers Aa and Dommel flow into the Dieze. The Citadel’s nickname, De Papenbril (The Papist Glasses), is due to the fact that the building was created to keep an eye on the Catholics of Den Bosch, who were still loyal to the former ruler of the area, the King of Spain. So the canons were not only aimed at the enemy, but also at the town’s own inhabitants! In later centuries the building also functioned as a military prison, a barracks, and an artists’ workshop, before it was transformed into the Brabant Historical Information Centre (BHIC). The view of the city from the walls is nice and you can almost feel its rich history come to life.

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De Bossche Zomer

A special summer program, De Bossche Zomer, was created this year to include food & drink, entertainment, and loads of fun things to in pop up locations all around the city for those visiting and those enjoying staycations.   I think one of the best initiatives was Smakenrad (tasting wheel)- the largest Ferris wheel in the Netherlands which was set up at the Petterlaarse Schans from July 1 – August 30.   We took the kids on it one day, where we had a choice of a Bossche Bol or a Worstenbroodje and a drink.  They offered other sessions for high tea, lunch, and even an evening meal with sushi and oysters!!

Then one day suddenly there were TWO Ferris wheels…and then a day later only ONE – not the Samkenrad.   Well turns out the Smakenrad is had to stop completely.  According to the municipality, the permit is not in order; 1500 seats canceled. The wheel was been shut down in consultation with the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).   One of these days, we’ll go for a bike ride and check out the replacement wheel.  Glad we got on when we did, in the even the “real” wheel cannot return.

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When we first saw it being built we rode our bikes over to check it out a couple nights in a row so getting to go on it was extra cool.

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The city and the people are lovely.  I personally think it’s a city worth visiting during your time here in the Netherlands no matter what the season! 🙂

Do you have a tip or suggestion of a great place to see, restaurant to try, or something off the beaten path to do in Den Bosch which I didn’t highlight?   I KNOW there are tons of things to do in the city that I have not touched upon here.  Send me a message and let me know.

 

 

 

A visit to the Nationaal Carnavals Museum: s’-Hertogenbosch

It is tradition that our kids school takes a field trip to the Nationaal Carnavals Museum just before the start of Carnival.  Oeteldonk runs in the blood of many people here in Brabant so naturally it’s a tradition celebrated in the schools here in s’-Hertogenbosch.   In fact, each year there is an school emblem competition [a patch worn on boerenkiels or jackets]..  While neither of my kids won, they both received an honorable mention for their badges.  I thought I took photos of their final drawings but I cannot seem to find them. Anyway I did find this one on my photo so you can get an idea of M’s.

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When the class mother asked if anyone could help chaperone the kids, I immediately volunteered.  It’s good for my oefenen and I somewhat enjoy the Carnival celebrations of my “adopted city” and have not yet been to this museum so I signed up!  Our kids do not have boerenkiels or jackets (yet – we do hope to have them soon) but I wrapped Maebh in the traditional red white and yellow Oeteldonk colors scarf complete with a frog on her shoulder (Soren’s scarf from last year) and sent her off to school.

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The Oeteldonks Gemintemuzejum is located in an idyllic spot in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, on the site of the former gatehouse of the medieval Sisters of Orthenklooster and located on the Binnendieze.

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Foto credit: Indebuurt.nl

Essentially off the Hinthamstraat and down an alley way.  I was totally immersed in the rich history of the national, international and Oeteldonk carnival.  The “muzejum” has a permanent collection with all kinds of masks, clothing, promotional material, weapons, shields and other valuable and important objects from the history of carnival and Oeteldonk. Thematic exhibitions are also organized in the summer months.  We had a tour with a very informative & passionate woman who told us EVERYTHING about the history and details of the carnival in her own unique way geared towards children.    And truthfully she was a lot more patient than I could be with children – especially 10 year old boys who cannot stand still and focus 🙂    I learned so much about carnival in, but also outside of Oeteldonk – far beyond the borders.  I highly recommend a visit to this museum if you are ever in Den Bosch and curious about Carnival.

If you are not 100% sure what the fus is about Oeteldonk or why Carival is so big here in Den Bosch.    First the name Oeteldonk stems from Den Bosch’ geological condition and history (donk = sandy hill; oetel is agreed to allude to frog): a sandy place found in a swampy area outside the town. The vernacular language of Den Bosch is spoken, best understood if it’s not written, but spoken out loud.  Cities change their names for the period:  Den Bosch becomes Oeteldonk; Bergen op Zoom Krabbegat and Tilburg Kruikenstad.

Secondly, check out this blog post “How to make sense of Carnival” done by Cora of Free Den Bosch Tours – she touches on the FAQs quiet well.  Forget the cow and bunny suits filling up with cans of beer in the AH on Vughterstraat – do that elsewhere – preferably far away say in Maastricht but not Den Bosch… you won’t fit in here.  🙂  And it if you haven’t done one of Cora’s Free Den Bosch Tours – do it!

Beyond the name there is the Prince and the Jr. Price (and his court), and parades with amazing floats, a kids parade, the clothing, brass bands and carnival songs.  It’s just something you need to experience.   I will add that some people absolutely HATE it and leave town for the period.    Being from abroad, I neither love it or hate it but I am in the middle – I certainly don’t buy a one way ticket out of town nor do I go out each until 4 am.

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Many store fronts decorate inside and of course.  In fact, last year the kids did artwork at school and they are put in the store windows around the city and there is a competition between schools.   We are then given a map and the kids and I walked around and found their specific pieces on display.   Oh and each day I get to see hundreds of people come by my house going into the city on the bikes dressed in the decorated jackets.

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In case you are inspired to visit, all the details for 2020 Carnival here in Den Bosch including the parade route, etc can be found by clicking that link.

UPDATE:  Me and M have jasje’s which we are pimping out now – working on getting on that fits S and then working on his last.   Exciting 🙂

I have so many photos from Carnaval which I will add in the future… for now here are a few from Friday.

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Review: Terrarium making working at Werk aan de Winkel – MixStore – s’Hertogenbosch

Yesterday I made my first ever Terrarium at Werk aan de Winkel  here in s’Hertogenbosch.   It was a lot of fun and while it sounds old fashioned and boring it wasn’t.

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The store is so cute and filled with so many lovely things.   If I need a gift, this is where I’ll go here next.  I already know that I’m going to buy M the neon heart light for Xmas!

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Many bars and restaurants in the area provide her with their jars and bottles for The Green Bar to use for her eco-systems and terrariums.  Love that!! So, instead of just recycling my glass blue Bombay Sapphire blue gin bottle, I’ll be brining them by for her to use as they actually use them for eco-systems, etc.

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I actually organised this event for a group of International women who live in town.  Five of us attended so it was cozy and each person received loads of one-on-one instruction for their terrarium.   She even did the event in ENGLISH for us as not everyone speaks Nederlands well enough (if at all).   We started off with a cup of tea and some freshly-made pieces of a cake.

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How it works. 

The first step in your plant-making adventure is learning about your materials and then prep your planter.   She showed us a number of examples (both dry & wet) and told us all about drainage, soil types & nutrition so that our mini garden survive.

First we had to choose a glass container from a large collection which were set out on a table.  I chose a recycled roasted pepper jar with a strip of leather on the top.  Even the leather was recycled.   I found it rustic and thought it would be perfect for low plants.   If I was doing a wet terrarium, I would have chosen a taller one as the plants are taller.

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With a wet terrarium you choose plants that like a humid climate, such as Ferns, Fittonias, Hypoestes, mosses, Tillandsias and Asperagus etc.  If you prefer cacti and succulents, like me, then go for a dry version.

She then explained to us step-by-step how to add different types of rocks to the planter, layer by later to be sure to get proper drainage before adding the soil – which you use different soil for wet & dry terrariums.

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Once your planter is prepped, you’ll move onto actually adding your plants.  This was a fun part as this is where your personal style comes in.   I choose a furry cacti and not thinking the handling part through too well – ha ha.   All in all it was fine, not too many pokeys to pull out. 

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The final step in your planting experience is decorating.   The dry ones are topped with tiny pebbles, and if you want you can add a few stones and a tiny creature.  I chose a Oeteldonk frog – after all we do live in s’Hertogenbosch 🙂

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Once satisfied with your terrarium,  take it home to enjoy for as long as your heart desires.   You need to water it every once in a while to make them last as long as your memories of the event.

I’m not a green thumb at all – in fact, I own ONE plant and I’m surprised it has lasted as long as it as.   I normally kill every plant – even killed cacti in the past – I’m determined to keep this alive.

If you are interested in making one, it costs €36 and you can book online.  They have other workshops too and we’re now looking at booking a hand lettering workshop.

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REVIEW: TumTum IJs Den Bosch

While Nils and Soren are at the season opener of their football club – Maebh and I had some alone time and decided that after picking up a few pairs of pants for back to school, we’d pop in and check out TumTum IJs Den Bosch on Minderbroederstraat 23.

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The concept is the same as Pinkberry, which the kids visited when they were living in Boston but were way too young to remember.   We only just saw this place a few days ago and decided to pop in.  There are quite a few ice cream options around Den Bosch and we have our favorites, but figure we’d give this place a try!

How it works – very simple!

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1.) Take a cup – several different sizes
2.) Fill it with ice cream (choose from 8 different flavors  – which were Vanilla, Strawberry, Banana, Chocolate, Hanzelnut, Mango Yogurt & Vegan and of course, mixing is an option!)
3.) Choose from more than 200 toppings
4.) Go the scale where you pay €1.95 per 100 grams.   In my 9 year old’s case – mama “aka her banker” will pay for her delicious, unique ice cream covered with various toppings.  Seriously it was not that expensive –  I paid just over €5.75 for the both of us.   I’ve paid far more at places but what I love is that here you are supporting a local business!!
5.) Sit inside or out and enjoy!  The terraces belong to the restaurants opposite and next door but there is a big bench which is public so you can sit there without an issue!

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My 9 year old LOVED every minute of this experience and cannot wait to come back with her 11 year old brother soon!  While she does love an ice cold slush at times, she’ll skip a McFlurry and do this instead!

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WHAT DID WE GET?

I got a small cup, with chocolate ice cream and some chocolate sprinkles and a twist of white and dark chocolate.    Personally, I’m not a huge fan of colored candy.

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My 9 year old choose a larger bucket (of course kids always naturally want a bigger portion), with vanilla ice cream and tons of stuff on top — I couldn’t keep up with all the items she put on to list them.   She loved it and was thrilled to dig in, but in the end, she couldn’t finish it – was too much and had to toss it out!  She agreed next time – smaller portion!  You know the saying – Mama knows best !

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I also love the recycling efforts at the end… plastic spoons in one bin and cups and tubs in the other.

I DO HAVE ONE SUGGESTION

I know not everyone smiles all time time nor is happy all the time, but it’s an ice cream store with tons of kids coming in & out and it really is a happy place.  I think a greeting coming and going would be great but I’d take just one direction too! A smile from the staff, however, to me is a requirement – don’t know about you? Happy to report our second time in, two young guys, Max & Noud, were working and they were SUPER friendly, greeted us, asked if we were there before – offered an explanation to those who have not as to how it worked – EXACTLY what I would expect in an ice cream shop – LOVED IT!! 

I would like to add that we have been back SEVERAL times since our first visit and the staff have been WONDERFUL!  

WILL WE BACK?

Absolutely 100%! With my 11 year old and with some friends for sure!!  In fact when my nieces and nephews visit us, I’ll be sure to bring them here for a special treat!  It’s a special place that I know all kids would LOVE!   They even have Vegan 100% plantaardig ijs so that is a plus for our Vegan friends & family!! 

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There are quite a few ice cream shops in the area to choose from but I think this is one you must try.  Have you been here yet?   What do you think?

UPDATE:  Came back with my 11 year old and his friend – they both LOVED IT!

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Of the three kid portions – can you tell which ones belong to two 11 year old boys ?  They didn’t leave much room for items to go inside.  This time I tried the vegan – plant based ijs – very yummy with a few twix cut up and some chocolate sprinkles, shaved coconut and some chopped nuts – so good!    Total for 4 of us €13.  The cost of a McFlurry is €2.75 and this is MUCH better! 

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UPDATE:  We visited again today – and this time they have schommels (swings) installed which adds to the “fun-ness” of this place!

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Avond4Daagse – Our First Time!

Another Dutch tradition for me and the kids to experience is the Avond4Daagse. This is the FIRST year for our kids to participate.  Not sure why we didn’t do it last year when they were their newcomers class but we never heard about it.

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KEY POINTS

  • Kids  walk 5KM, 10KM, 15KM or 25KM each night for 4 consecutive nights.
  • Whole point is to promote outdoor, healthy exercise.
  • It is an offspring of the Nijmegen Vierdaagse.
  • It seem that kids start to join in from age 5, but I did see some younger kids too.
  • Most walk together with their school groups with coordinating shirts.
  • One person holds a flag or teddy with same shirt up high so you can find your group and stick together (if you want).
  • Warning: Cover your ears when you enter tunnels as kids scream as loudly!
  • Not sure if it’s true but I was told you want to be the first in your school to get back to the start. We did NOT try for this at all.
  • Kids bring snoepjes to eat and share with friends.
  • Each school sets up a table with drinks and treats someone where along the walk.
  • Kids pay €5 each and get a small treat each day (apples were provided 2x, water and kit kat bar).
  • Strangely enough, you are NOT required to walk all four nights (it used to be but not any more!  There are no check points or stamping system, so you can walk only one night (closest to your house and take home a metal – but you must pay the €5.
  • Final night, each child receives a medal – with a number representing the number of times you’ve participated so in our case #1 – EXCITING!

WHERE DO YOU WALK?

Each night the location changes where it starts… but it’s all within Den Bosch so you really get to see a lot of the city.  Still maintain our area is the BEST!  Depending on where you live, you’ll have to trek across the gemeente to the starting point.  This is best done on your bike as there will be traffic and parking issues.

Day 1:  De Donken
Day 2:  Hintham
Day 3:  Schutskamp
Day 4:  City Centre

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Our friends in Den Haag do it every year and knowing them they are walking the 15 or 25 KM 🙂   There are walks that take place all over the country, co-ordinated on this website.  Anyway, our eldest at 11 chose to walk the 10K with some classmates and our second at 9 did the 5K with me.  That was plenty for her… even next year, I think 5KM is plenty!

NIGHT ONE

We first started off at their friends house where we’d cycle with them and their dad – he’s from the area so us being able to tag along with them was very handy!

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We had to first cycle 5.5 KM, then walk 5KM, then cycle 5KM home.   Our non-native Dutch legs were fine. Earlier in the day, I was dreading it.  Ha ha    All in all it wasn’t so bad, but my 9 year old was mad at me because I was over protective of her cycling.  She kept going out to the left on the bike path so I was concerned other that she be hit by the fast cyclist going by and the scooters, etc.   She has never had a bad fall on her bike as we do in the Netherlands – no one wears helmets, I’m concerned for her.  But after three days of cycling like this – she was so great, I’m very comfortable with her cycling skills.

They were very particular about looking at the kaartjes this year before they gave out the water, but they didn’t stamp the cards.   So unlike years before where you had to do each and every night, you do NOT have to do all four nights.

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After the first night, Soren came home excited and told me that I have to make him this “lemon and peppermint thing” which he can suck on like some of his friends.  Oh okay – so immediately I search it up and discover to what he is referring.

You cut an orange or lemon in half, put a few peppermints on top and then wrap in a cheesecloth or tea towel.  Kids suck on it when they walk.  Dentists hate them and encourage parents and kids to not use them.  Some kids love them.  After the one time – Soren didn’t need it again – great! 

NIGHT TWO

First we need to get from the city centre to the starting point in Hintham (edge of Rosmalen) near Den Bosch Football stadium where co-incidentally they were playing so you could hear chants, drums and yelling from time to time.   So first cycle 4 KM then walk 5KM then cycle 4 KM home.   

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First we walked through some estates and over the Ah river.

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Then it took us around the Oosterplaas which was nice as I’ve never been there. 

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NIGHT THREE

While not as far as night 1 & 2, Maebh & I cycled over to CHC Voetball club where this walk began.  It was a fine walk – through neighborhoods of their newcomersclass school, by the Paleiskwartier over behind the Jeroen Bosch Ziekenhuis and then back through the same neighborhoods and returned to the CHC to grab our bikes and head home.

The 10K loop did the De Moerputten and Soren came home COVERED in bug bites – need to remember for next year, we must cover him in insect repellant!

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NIGHT FOUR

I love this location – it starts & ends at the Parade, so we’ll just walk from home!  When we got there we didn’t see any of M’s friends nor the school flag but we did see a girl in Soren’s class which Maebh is friends with so we walked with them … perfect!

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During the walk, kids from our school detour and stop by the Zuid school where the kids pick up their medals and can stay and have a drink and a bit of party.  Many families go home from there, but some continue on to the Parade where there is loads of music and entertainment where the final event comes together!  Some families buy chocolates, flowers and other treats to congratulate the kids for walking – now I find that a bit silly and a waste of money but I guess it’s part of the tradition.  We didn’t make it to the Parade this year, we finished up at the school.  But next year, we’ll grab the medal from the school yard and go straight on…   I’d like to see what’s happening there.

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At first Maebh was angry that we didn’t go to the Parade, but Soren and Nils are off to the UK early this am to watch a football match and I didn’t want to make it any later.   She got over it rather quickly, thankfully!  It was already nearly 9 pm when we walked home – look how beautiful – and the hot air balloon started to take off as we walked home.

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I’m also pleased that our kids walked ALL FOUR NIGHTS and happy the weather cooperated all four nights!  I suppose to me this was the best night – probably because we are all happy our lives are going to return to ‘normal’ and I walked with both kids together.  Now no more super fast dinners and out the door, riding our bikes across town then walking 5KM or 10 KM.  Figuring out who Soren can go to and from while I walked with Maebh.   Kids can go to be earlier and be less grumpy in the morning when I’m getting them out of bed.

Glad I got to experience our first Avond4Daagse – great for my Inburgering 🙂  So will we do it again next year – ABSOLUTELY!

Moerputten Nature Reserve Den Bosch

Yesterday was the first official day of spring in the Netherlands and was the warmest 16th of February ever with temps as high as 18 c in some parts of the South.  So we head out for a walk to enjoy the nice weather.   An alternative nature area to the Bossche Broek Nature Reserve near Den Bosch is Moerputten which is a 120 hectare nature reserve which lies to the west of Den Bosch. It is managed by Staatsbosbeheer (check out their site for activities and other routes in the Netherlands)   

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Moerputtenbrug is a bridge which is 585 meters long and was built between 1881 and 1887 as a railway bridge.  Until 1972 it was part of the Langstraat railway line and there were trains running between ‘s-Hertogenbosch (via Waalwijk) and Geertruidenberg / Lage Zwaluwe. This track was built for the shoe industry, hence the iconic name ‘Half Soles Line’. After a few years’ restoration, the bridge was opened in 2011 to hikers and cyclists, with a beautiful view over the marsh and the nature reserve.  And again it was recently renovated and open for walkers and cyclists to enjoy!

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We decided to take the yellow walking trail as it was only about 5 km and would include both the bridge, a walk by the butterfly area (which clearly is not the right season) and the wooden planks over the marshes.

The wooden planks over the swampy marsh and mossy trees was the favorite part for all of us.   The kids were using their imagination and talking about alligators coming out from the water, etc.

And nothing to do with us, but this guy did a video using his drone of the area – which you get a great view of the bridge.