The last couple of months have been crazy for me in terms of traveling. So what did I do when I finally came back home? Sleep? Rest? No! I went out to explore some more, but a bit closer to my home in Belgium. I headed to two cities in the Dutch province of North Brabant: Heusden and ‘s Hertogenbosch, (or often just called Den Bosch).
North Brabant is often dubbed the most hospitable province of the Netherlands. And even though the title is self-proclaimed, I must say it’s absolutely true! It is one of the reasons why I keep returning there over and over again. Heusden is a little cute historic city and it’s so cool to wander around! I started the day at Heusdens Ijshuys. An ice cream shop! You’re never too old, and it’s never too early in the morning for ice cream! Owner Gijs makes all the flavors himself right in town. He’s a very friendly guy so if you’re there make sure to say hi! From there you can basically walk anywhere in town in 5 minutes. There are so many amazing small entrepreneurs in Heusden that you’ll want to stop at every shop! It’s great to stop by and ask those creative people about their profession.
One thing I found really cool, were the Heusdense Havendagen, the ‘harbour days’. Okay this was a specific event during that particular weekend in September that I was there, but I don’t want you guys to miss out. They managed to gather lots of historic ships and for a ship lover as me, that was a real joy to see. The event was really well organised, could even do round trips on some of the ships!
Best restaurant is definitely Restaurant & Kookstudio VaNDijK, in the heart of town, not far from the iconic mill. Quality of the product is key here. Expect a 3-course menu with honest and recognizable flavours and that really fits the atmosphere of the entire Heusden.
For the night I stayed in De Logeerkamer, a super romantic B&B with only one room on the top floor. It’s super romantic and decorated with lots of respect to how a traditional interior from back in the day would look like.
The lovely city of Den Bosch is the capital of North Brabant and was once the home of the famous Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. The name gave it away, didn’t it? I’d been there last year and then my trip was all about food, but I was there only briefly and now it felt good to explore the city a little more at my own slow pace.
What I would recommend is to do a boat tour through the canals! It’s a bit similar as what you have in Belgian cities like Bruges or Gent but it feels much less touristy. On the way you’re passing along and even underneath many of the buildings in Den Bosch and the person that’s driving the boat will tell you all the interesting facts you need to know. It was one of the many highlights of the weekend in North Brabant, a place in the Netherlands where I feel more and more at home each time I visit.
Maybe another reason why I felt at home so much is that I tried some very delicious local beers! ‘Jongens van de Wit’ is a microbrewery in Den Bosch and I must say they have some very tasty ones. The brewery is upstairs, and the bar is downstairs. Beer is going straight from the tanks to the tap installation!
In Den Bosch I stayed at The Duke, a trendy boutique hotel in the heart of town. I’ll do a separate blog post about the hotel later so make sure to check back!
Mountain biking in the dunes
Too much city for you? Don’t worry because there lots of other stuff to do in North Brabant. This time I head out to the ‘Loonse en Drunense Duinen’. What a name! It’s a 35sqm large national park full of dunes. It’s located so much inland that it’s a really interesting thing to see. The dunes look like a desert with a forest around it. You can rent mountain bikes at Herberg De Drie Linden, one of the restaurants on the edge of the park. Just beware that driving a bike in sand is a lot more effort than you’d think! You can also follow the paved path through the dunes and the forest where you’ll be fine with a regular bike. The ‘Loonse en Drunense Duinen’ are also a great place for walking or having a picknick with friends.
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