We arrive at the end of the afternoon and park the motorhome at Camperplaats Wouw - Het Beekdal, close to Bergen op Zoom. These natural surroundings make it the perfect base for visiting both town and countryside.
The next day we visit the Markiezenhof City Palace in the centre of Bergen op Zoom. This is the oldest city palace in the Netherlands, there is always an interesting exhibition to see, and the building itself is magnificent. A bit further on we are standing in front of the prisoners’ gate. We decide not to visit the escape room that is now housed there, and instead view Bergen op Zoom from above. We climb more than 180 steps up to the top of the ‘Pepper Pot’, as the tower of the St. Gertrudis Church is known, and enjoy wonderful views of the city and the nearby Brabantse Wal nature reserve.
Just a fifteen-minute drive from the centre and we are standing with our feet in the water without getting them wet! De Mozesbrug (Moses Bridge) at Fort de Roovere is not a bridge over the water, but through it. It’s located in one of the trenches from when Fort de Roovere was a defence to hold back the pillaging and conquering Spaniards. Once again we take a climb, this time up the Pompejus lookout tower.
Barely half an hour after leaving Fort de Roovere we are in the garrison town of Willemstad which is named after King William of Orange. We enter this attractive town through the city gates. We find a street café in a long avenue with leafy trees, then stroll through the remaining fortifications. We pop into the Mauritshuis just before closing time to learn more about the Zuiderwaterlinie (Southern Water Defence Line).
No point in driving directly to the motorhome site, we are fascinated by Fort Sabina. Locals call this place West Brabant’s best kept secret, and what an amazing place it is! Our final destination for that day is a 15-kilometre drive from Willemstad. We park the motorhome at Mieke’s Hof in Hoeven for a well-deserved night’s rest.
The next morning, and with some treats from the farmhouse shop, we walk for half an hour to Oudenbosch, where we immediately assume we must be in Italy. The Holy Agatha and Barbara Basilica turns out to be a copy of St. Peter’s in Rome. Climbing stairs seems to have become a recurring theme of this holiday. Looking out from the dome of Oudenbosch Basilica is literally and figuratively the highlight. We buy a packet of Brabant sausage rolls from a local baker and gobble them up in the Arboretum botanical gardens. What a wonderful place this is!
On our way to Breda we stop off at the Menmoerhoeve, the starting point for the Van Gogh NP Walking Route Etten-Leur. This varied route is marked out at junctions, and takes us through woods, pools and flower-filled meadows which are typical of this 706-hectare nature reserve. The characteristic Zwarte Schuur (Black Barn) is located along this route and is a great place to take a break. After a 14 km walk we get back into the motorhome for our last stop this weekend, the historic town of Breda.
We explore the city the next day, and we do it in a really cool way. We walk from one piece of street art to the next with the help of a useful app. More than a hundred murals in the Blind Walls Gallery tell us the story of the town. And however attractive a boat trip on the canal seems, we get back on our bikes. The Mastbos, one of the oldest coniferous woods in the Netherlands, is on the southern edge of the city in the Ginneken suburb. We choose one of the Top Nature Routes of Brabant. This walking route takes us alongside the River Mark in the Markdal valley and the fairy-tale Bouvigne Castle. We settle down at a café on the Ginnekenmarkt and toast to a wonderful weekend. They know how to enjoy life in Brabant. That makes you want more!
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In the middle of the countryside, but always close to the city!