A day out in Arnhem, Netherlands

Last Saturday a girlfriend and I explored the city of Arnhem.  Well, when I say “explored” we essentially picked a Dutch city neither of us has visited before and walked around.  This was the first of many cities we plan to do. There are some others who want to join us on our city trips here & there so I’ll update when I do them.

Here in the Netherlands, we are still up to our necks with COVID restrictions, all the terraces & restaurants (except some which offer takeaway), museums and interesting tourist attractions like zoos are still closed for the public – with some exceptions of test trials – and I’m doing one this coming weekend – but more about that later! What we an do is book an appointment to shop at some stores – but there are also rules around that.  Need to book at least four hours in advance, wear face masks, social distance, etc  So when walking down the street you see a nice shop, you cannot go in.  We even asked at the door, but were turned away.  [I so look forward to the day when we can look back and read these restrictions and all this be in the past]. We had an appointment at TK Maxx (Europe’s version of TJ Maxx!) and a Kringloopwinkel located on the outskirts of the city. So our plan was to wonder around, take in the city, admire the Dutch architecture, I would take some photos, find what, if anything, makes Arnhem special and chat – which is what we did.   We had a LOT of laughs along the way.    I downloaded a walking city tour in Dutch on WalkMyCity before we visited, but we didn’t end up following it. 

BRIEF HISTORY OF ARNHEM

Situated on the banks of the Nederrijn and Sint-Jansbeek rivers in the eastern Netherlands, the city of Arnhem – capital of the Gelderland province – is a home to a number of notable sights – some listed below. In the current area of the town of Arnhem, there were signs found of human habitation that dates back to 70.000 years ago!! Which seems that Neanderthals had populated the area. The oldest remains of the modern human in the area of Arnhem dates back to 5000 years before Christ. In the towns of Warnsborn and Schaarsbergen near Arnhem traces were found from farmers, which means that they had a permanent residence there, that date back to 2400 before Christ. Of course it’s famous in WW2 with the Battle of Arnhem – for more info you can visit this wiki site here. It’s also surrounded by nature reserves, such as the Hoge Veluwe National Park. That is worth it’s own trip in a future.

GETTING TO ARNHEM FROM DEN BOSCH

Originally, we had planned on taking the train which would take just about an hour to get between Den Bosch & Arnhem Centraal Stations but in the end, she decided to drive as I don’t own a car so it worked out perfectly.  That was handy for our shopping and for the “avondklok” – the evening curfew which is still in place.  Essentially everyone has to be off the streets at 10 pm (it was 9 pm but recently moved to 10 pm).  We parked the car in the lot of Centraal Station – an easy drive and parking cost €15 all day.   

When we arrived, we stopped by the VVV (Tourist info desk at the station) but there you also needed to pre-book an appointment 4 hours in advance to talk to them.  How dumb is that? A tourist office not to be open representing their city – so the two employees stood there chatting the entire day.  So we left on our own to explore the city without anything from the VVV.   Having already read a few great blog posts about the city, I had a bit of an idea of what to expect and just went with the flow.  

SHOPPING IN ARNHEM

As with all large Dutch cities, they have main shopping streets which criss cross have every store possible – here was no different.  One after another you see all the big shops including some big ones we don’t have here in Den Bosch – such as Primark and TK Maxx. But what Arnhem does have is a reputation for unique shopping and fashion aka “MODE”. It’s home to the top design school in the Netherlands. So many of the man had a very trendy look – which of course, I liked 🙂

Seven Streets – Unique!

While Amsterdam has the ‘Negen Straatjes, Nine Little Streets’ the fashion & vintage heaven for fashionistas, Arnhem has its own version, called the Zeven Straatjes, Seven Little Streets, where interior lovers can shop to their heart’s content. The Arke Noachstraat, Bentinckstraat, Eiland,Kerkstraat, Pastoorstraat, Wielakkerstraat and the Zwanenstraat offer a different shopping experience to the main high street stores on and around the Ketelstraat, Bakkerstraat and Koningstraat. You enter this area under two bronze gates – super cute!

We wandered through here a few times – super cute shops – again couldn’t simply go in any of them – you needed an appointment which again needed to be booked 4 hours in advance – unless it was an essential store with food – then you can go in.    

While we wandering that is when we discovered the store Medikamente Die Grenze Parfumerie!   It was crazy – it was a German discount store which offered a bit of EVERYTHING for cheap.  Some things had a short shelf lives though not all. I think we were in here for at least an hour.    I bought Thai shrimp soup starter mix which has been discontinued at the AH. I love this soup and used to get it all the time. At AH was over €2 but here is was 3 packages or €1 so bought 6. In hindsight, I should have bought more! I grabbed a box of Starbucks coffee (which turned out to be the WRONG pods again – how did that happen again?! – thankfully I put them on a Gratis Facebook site & a local lady came and picked up them yesterday so not wasted. I bought Knorr bullion, a variety of make up from Douglas, etc.   Cognizant of the fact we’d have to carry our purchases until we got back to the car hours later, I didn’t go overboard. Not that I would ever buy them but look at those giant cans of beans!   But I will certainly look up this store again on future trips to the East of the country as it was brilliant and worth visiting.    

TK MAXX

Us two were just like most American’s living here in Europe, when we see a TK Maxx we are like YES, we need to go in there – we just love the store. But this one wasn’t the best.   We had an hour-long appointment booked.  Of course, I went straight to the shoes – but nothing – not a single pair that I’d buy.  I had my eye on a a travel Triominos game, and one pair of city sneakers but they were too bling bling.  I think I’d be sick of them after a few wears.   So I ended up with some night face cream , a kitchen thong gadget, and some nie olive oil which yes was heavy in the backpack. I did like the o Bags there too but even with the discount out of my price range and not the colors I’d choose. Oh and by the way, the Dirty Vegan – Matt Pritchard is quite unique – check out his insta page as currently rowing in the Atlantic ocean!

Kringloopwinkel 2 Switch

After our hour-long shop at TK MAXX, we had to get across town walking to the next appointment which was at a kringloopwinkel – it was HUGE!  But we didn’t factor in travel time so it cut down on our shopping time there, but that was fine.  I ended up getting a little mustard jar which reminded me of the time we lived in in North Norfolk UK (north of Norwich – home of Coleman’s mustard) and a small jacket for working out. 

I saw this really nice large glass jar (probably used for pickles or something years ago) and if I had a car outside in the parking lot, I would have bought it). But that I was not walking 20 minutes back into the city with that and my bags, etc. I soo wished I bought it. But I’ll be on the lookout for something similar next time we go closer to home!

DINNER AT SONSBEEK PARK

We ended up meeting up with another girl from the US who lives in Arnhem for dinner.   We ordered takeaway Poke Bowls at Poke House Arnhem, grabbed a couple of nice Brouwerij Ijwit beers from the SPAR (which I continue to pronounce incorrectly as “Spaaaa” with my Boston accent) and headed up to Sonsbeek Park – overlooking the city.   What a beautiful park and upmarket neighbourhood. The houses are pretty lux (many 30’s style – my type of house but updated a bit inside with a mix of old and new. I know this because, as with most Dutch homes, myself included, we leave our curtains wide open all day long ha ha) and just on the edge of the city. Of course, here we didn’t a have beer bottle opener here either, so had to ask a man here too if he could open for us hilarious! Once again grown giggling women looking for a person to assist in opening our beers.

Speaking of beer – if the terraces were open we saw some from which looked great including the ‘t Taphuys.  They have over 80 different wines and 100 beers – I’d be I heaven.  It’s one of those places where you get a card and pour your own beer. I’ve NEVER done that before – on my list!!  Just look at this photo from their site – HEAVEN for me! The building is amazing too – the old post office – the details! 

foto credit: Taphuys Arnhem

A couple others we saw were Cafe Meijers and Cafe ‘t MoorgatAnd this little place Oranje Koffiehuis is a cosy brown cafe which you know I’d have to visit if open. 

And here I am with one of my Brouwerij Ijwit beers outside on our self-made terrace in the sun! I also suggested we order takeaway and have the bike driver bring it to us at this picnic table but was overruled by the other two ladies – I found it a good idea but it was pretty windy – looking at my hair 🙂

LOCAL ITEMS TO BUY WHEN IN ARNHEM

Arnhemse Meisjes – local cookies at Bakker Hilvers

At Bakker Hilvers in Arnhem, you can buy Arnhemse Meisjes, which are traditional cookies only made in Arnhem. And in fact, this bakery makes the only original ones.  We did NOT try these but I do regret not bringing some back for the kids.

foto credit: Bakker Hilvers

Grofjes at Arnhemse Bakkertje

At the Arnhemse Bakkertje, you will find something that is called ‘grofje’. This is bread that you can tear apart and is filled with raisins & currants. It was already made before the Second World War and they luckily brought this delicious bread back. When we were walking we walked by the shop so we went in and bought 4 each – and of course, I took a few photo outside.  So cute, right!   I popped them in my freezer and gave to the kids to try.  They thought they were okay – too many calories for me so sad to say not a huge hit in our house but they do look amazing.

The walk back to Centraal Station was really nice – Sonsbeek is a great neighbourhood!  I was also was told that Klarendal is the most fashionable and hipster neighbourhood in Arnhem but we didn’t make it there but I would have liked to see it.   We did a lot of walking that day 26,000 steps per my Fitbit but I know it was more as my arm was holding two bags for our 20 minute walk back to the city so that part wasn’t registered.

WHERE TO EAT?

I LOVE Food Hallens (viisited Rotterdam, Amsterdam & Eindhoven) so we decided to go there.  As their website was not updated, we were not 100% sure if it was open or closed.  We thought perhaps it would be just takeaway from one of the 13 vendors, so we walked up to see.  Clearly it was VERY much closed!  Located on the river Rijnkade, this place is where we would have certainly had our dinner but yep – COVID!   A future trip back to Arnhem, I’m going here for sure.   Read about my visit to the Amsterdam Foodhallen. Never made one for the other two.

During the day when we were walking around, we were both a little hungry and we saw an Indian & Pakistani Street food vendor, so we had to stop and get a portion of something he was selling.  I choose the Vegan Pakora and my friend chose the samosas.   So yummy!  

Again all the terraces were closed but we had a takeaway Verse Munt thee and sat on a bench outside what would be a bustling terrace, but there were so many cool looking places from Vegan restaurants to Café Dudok like the one in Rotterdam.   Like all large Dutch cities, when open you have so many choices. As I am far from local, I cannot recommend a place unfortunately. During the walk, I did see three super cute benches which I had to take photos.

WALKING TOURS OF ARNHEM

There are various origanized tours offeredin Arnhem. LIke all big Dutch cities, they tend to be advertised as FREE a contribution at the end is grately appreciated. Petra Dielman from Arnhemlife.nl offers various tours from walking, bus, bike, street art, Battle Field, etc – the list goes on… but you can also use your smart phone and do it yourself walk. Two major players in this spare are GPSMyCity and WalkMyCity. The later only offers Arnhem in Dutch. Just a simple google and you’ll find options if walking tours are your thing.

SOME TOURIST THINGS TO DO IN ARNHEM – Outside of COVID LOCKDOWN

Cellars of Arnhem – Experience the city from below!

As it sounds, you can enjoy the city from below. There is a part of the city of Arnhem, under the shopping streets, which you can visit. The 30+ Historische Kelders or historic cellars in Arnhem were restored in 2001 and the Stichting Gilde Stadswandeling organises guided tours of these cellars throughout the year for a small fee.  Unfortunately, almost entirely not accessible for wheelchair users and yes closed now with Covid! But I would have loved this tour!

Oude Oeverstraat 4a
6811 JX Arnhem
https://historischekelders.nl

St. Eusebius Church (SINT-EUSEBIUSKERK)

St. Eusebius Church also known as the Eusebiuskerk or the Grote Kerk, at 93 metres is the largest church, and the largest building in Arnhem. It is named after the 4th-century saint Eusebius, Bishop of Vercelli. Notably the building contains an elevator that was added to the church in 1994, which allows visitors to travel to the top of the spire and view the city of Arnhem from its highest point. The glass balconies – completely made of glass! – are on the east and west sides of the tower. Constructed at a height of 60 meters, they offer a phenomenal and unobstructed view of Arnhem and the surrounding area. It is the selfie place par excellence. Each balcony weighs around 2,500 kilograms and is attached to the tower by a variety of methods including steel cables. The glass plate that forms the bottom can easily carry up to six people at a time

Visitors to the church are also able to enter the crypt below the building. This part of the building has only very dim light in a central part. By carefully exploring a number of darkened cavernous areas, most of which are either barred as if being a part of old gaol cells, or in some cases as clearly exhumed shallow graves, the visitor can find ancient human bones which have been left in the state of their burial or death

View their website for booking details corona restrictions and see photos of the glass balcony – not sure I’d stand on it. Part of me says yes – live a little and be adventurous, but the sensible side says NO WAY!!

Sabre Gate (Sabelspoort)

Sabre Gate (also known as Eusebius Gate). The gate was first mentioned in 1357 and that is considered to be the period when it was built. The main function of this gate was initially to defend the city. Later it was also used to guard the prisoners and the insane people. Before the WW2, the gate was surrounded by houses, but during the war years these houses were so badly damaged that after the liberation they were demolished. The tower itself was damaged but restored. The gate was restored 2 times, once in 1642 and then in 1952. After the restoration the second gate part of the Province House became the province of Gelderland.

Devil’s House (DUIVELSHUIS)

This is a city castle from the 16th century. The house was owned by Duke Charles of Gelre and was sold to Martin of Rossum after his death. Then it came into the hands of the municipality and got the name: Maarten van Rossum Huis. Yet the name Duivelshuis is still used, which is derived from the satyrs (beings where the lower body is a goat and the upper body is a human). There are several folk tales about the Duivelshuis. The house is still part of the town hall where many marriages are closed.

MUSEUMS OF COURSE

Located in Sonsbeek Park, this museum has been on my to visit list with the kids for a long time.  So when things open up again we’ll have to return and visit it.  Then I have an exuse to stop in that crazy shop and eat the FoodHallen.

Airborne Museums Arnhem

Two museums belong to the Airborne Museum. The first one ‘Airborne at the Bridge’ can be found inside the city of Arnhem near the John Frost Bridge. This museum in Arnhem will mostly give you information about the battle on the John Frost Bridge and in this area of Arnhem.

There are other museums in the area – including the very popular Netherlands Open Air Museum (Nederlands Openluchtmuseum), which you can find on the Museumkaart website.

Burgers’ Zoo & Safari Park

Also on my list to visit is this one Burgers’ Zoo – I hear it’s huge and would be a great day out for both adults & kids.

Rent a bike and explore the surroundings of Arnhem

The area of Arnhem is lovely for cycling. You can cycle to the Hoge Veluwe National Park or The Netherlands Open Air Museum, for example. But cycling along the Nederrijn river is also a perfect idea. Renting standard city bikes in Arnhem can be made at City Bike Experience (note there is also always a deposit which must be paid in cash, and you need to bring an id/passport).

Walk the bridge to bridge route in Arnhem

Every September there’s a running event in Arnhem that is called the ‘bridge to bridge’. You can participate in this running event that exists out of several routes, but if you’re not there during that time, or don’t want to run you can just walk the bridge route.

To walk the bridge to bridge route in Arnhem you have to walk from the John Frost Brug to the Nelson Mandela Brug. You could walk a full route and walk on the side of the centre of Arnhem one way and along the park on the other side the way back.

Go for a ride on the trolley bus

Trolleybuses in the Netherlands are very rare! Arnhem is the only city in the Netherlands and the Benelux that still has a trolley bus network and it is one of the biggest networks of trolleybuses in Western Europe. If you want to know more about the trolley bus, then you can visit the Trolley Bus Museum in Arnhem. This is one of the free things to do in Arnhem. You can see what they look like in the photo behind me and my friend – nothing special to look at truthfully. I think the old trams in Den Haag are much nicer!

Of course, as stated above as most things were not open, so we didn’t go inside the famous tourist things mentioned above so this post is not the most insightful but rather a place to capture my memory of our trip to Arnhem. 

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 Arnhem for a future visit?  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 any hidden gems or off-the-beaten track things worth seeing. I know for sure that I will go back and visit again when things open. Plus as my Taalmaatje is originally from there she offered to show me around a bit too.


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.

StarsStripesAndMayonnaise_116

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.

StarsStripesAndMayonnaise_120

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.

boat2

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

donut boatDucky boathselfvaren

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.

KARRENSTRAAT

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!

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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.

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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!