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Breda, The Netherlands 2010

Jack n Nanda's gaff, Prinsenbeek

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During this visit to the Netherlands we were invited to stay with our very good friends Nanda and Jack in Prinsenbeek on the outskirts of Breda. They really looked after us and fed us well with traditional Dutch grub! Another week and we’d have been as tall as them.. We were re-introduced to chocolate sprinkles with our breakfast which could included rye bread, peanut butter (known as cheese there due to it not being legal to call it butter?!.. cheese it aint!) and sweet apple paste, ha who needs tea and toast. We were also invited into their well stock ‘wine cellar’, not that well stocked now of course :>, as again we were treated like royalty..lots of snifters and Nespresso. (Still thought we could have got that machine in our suitcase!). Our evening meals were delicious and that chicken.. Yummi!

Breda is a very historical city. The Peace of Breda helping to end the second Anglo-Dutch war was held in the castle here. The ancestors of the Dutch monarchy were buried here before occupation by the Spanish forced the change of location to Delft which has remained the situation since. Also, and more importantly :>, on the way into Breda is a supermarket from the Albert Heijn chain which we simply called Albert! The place has a huge cheese counter, such a shame we hadn’t taken the car as we’d have packed it to the roof along with the liquorice money drops they sell there which are sooo nice.

We visited Breda a few times during our stay, and frequented the colony bar for some refreshing Bock beer. The bar itself sits under the Hotel, the clock, and has a great atmosphere, its interior reminiscent of earlier times. The church too was worth a visit although the tower only opens Saturday which we missed out on due to a private function.

On the Friday we headed to the birth town of Nanda, Zierikzee (and where she and Jack met arrrr!) On the way we stopped off at the watersnoodmuseum , and learnt all about the disastrous floods of 1953 where whole villages ended up under the waters of the North Sea. A combination of peak tides and high winds undermined critical dykes. 1835 plus 1 died (check out the site to see what this means) as well as cattle such was the suddenness of the flood. This flooding continued for months with the tides until eventually the last concrete caisson was lodged into place. The museum itself has been created out of the four caissons, each one having a differing theme.

After arriving in Zierikzee we had a snack lunch in the converted ship yard a meal called UitSmijter (Bouncer!). This consisted of layers of ham cheese with fried eggs on top all on a base of buttered brown bread. Really nice and very filling. That set us up for the afternoon’s walk around the town. Later on we drove to see the Oosterscheldekering just one element of the delta project, a series of impressive mammoth flood barriers, borne out of necessity to keep the sea out for good

Time pushed on and we didn’t manage to the beach in daylight however we did get time to have a ‘snifter’ in Perry's beach club.. If only there was one like this in Crosby! Later that evening we had some pasta in Il Nettuno d'Oro back in Zierikzee

Saturday evening was spent at the Chasse theatre, restaurant and Holland Casino, a fabulous location all under one all encompassing roof. We were entertained by Steph Bos a Dutch singer with his band who spends a lot of his time in S Africa. Originally a gospel singer his work is biblical although being in Dutch we enjoyed the music for what it was and really enjoyed the live performance. The performers were excellent, as was the meal we had there. We were tempted by the Roulette in the casino but at 10€ for minimum bet on most tables gave it a miss!!

Monday brought an excursion to Rotterdam was a very different city to Amsterdam for instance with modern buildings as lots of the old ones were flattened during the war. The Cube houses were amazing to see although I’d imagine living in them perhaps not as much! The Old harbour retained much of its atmosphere and the ‘white house’, which at one time was the tallest building in the whole of Europe, was paid a visit for a warming coffee. Later on we had lunch in the New York Hotel, created out of the original terminal buildings where emigrants headed out on ships including the SS Rotterdam to new Amsterdam er I mean New York and other destinations in the new world of America. We also managed a snifter in Grand Cafe DUDOK an old haunt of Nandas which had previously been a print works

We managed to visit Delft on our last day exploring the canal lined streets before having a well earned beer in De Waag (real beer a speciality!) A visit to the New Church was a must which contains the royal crypt.

On the way to Delft we stopped of at Kinderdyke, a famous and typically Dutch location due to the existence of 19 working Windmills. Although cold and windy it was a very an impressive sight, the windmills dating back to 1740. Unfortunately the tourist mill was closed for the season but the many signs around the site explained the workings of it all. Impressive engineering considering it was almost 300 years ago!

Time to come home and I was well impressed, at the airport, with being able to buy an egg sarny without having mayonnaise on it! Why cant sandwich makers here in the UK take the hint and realise NOT EVRYONE LIKES MAYONNAISE! Quite simply done: a separate sachet of mayo (and also pepper) for those who want it is included. Simples!


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