After just a fifteen-minute drive from our pitch in Heeze, we are now in one of the largest cities in the Netherlands, Eindhoven. This Brabant city leads the way when it comes to innovation, design and technology. But it is also a very pleasant and green city, in other words the perfect starting point for our motorhome holiday in this region.
Mr Philips perfected the incandescent light bulb here. Philips was also responsible for the electric shaver with rotating head, the cassette tape and the compact disc, and indeed the CD (be sure to check out the Philips Museum). More than 125 years ago the Philips factories were operating at top capacity. Nowadays as we walk through the former industrial sites with names such as Strijp S,T & R, we come face to face with trendy shops, numerous catering outlets, luxury apartments and creative hubs.
From the Down Town Gourmet Market to a street-art tour and from the DAF-museum to St. Catharine’s Church. And even though we are sleeping in our own motorhome, we walk into the NH Hotel and take the lift to the top floor so we can enjoy the view across the city from the sky bar with a drink in our hand. Cheers.
‘When we arrive back at the motorhome site in Heeze, it’s as quiet as a mouse. A small light is shining in a little greenhouse full of fresh crops. The neighbours who are staying in the wooden ‘shepherd’s hut’ are sitting under a blanket on the veranda and staring at the stars in the clear sky. What a wonderful place this is.’
‘Houdoe’ Eindhoven – we have already picked up a bit of the Brabant accent – and we are setting off towards Helmond, barely half an hour’s drive from our motorhome site. But have we been sitting behind the wheel for too long? No, that’s not possible, it wasn’t such a long journey. But what’s that we can see? Those houses in the distance, they are… cubes. Not only cubes, they are hanging sideways.
The contrast between the remarkable cube houses and Helmond Castle could not be greater. The largest moated castle in the Netherlands, which is 700 years old, was home to many noble families according to our guide. Not always without its problems however, because power, love, war and deceit were rampant in those times.
Before rounding off our day’s travel and parking up the motorhome for the night, we stop off in Deurne. The ‘Het Dorp’(The Village) footpath is a pleasant diversion of 2½ kilometres. With a route description in our hand, we pass by the most important sights in the town.
Jos and Jolande from Camperplaats Croy are real treasures. With their three daughters, they make a fine crew. The fields are full of flowers and as the sun goes down, we can hear a frog croaking and the neighbours even spotted a deer in the distance yesterday.
Helmond and Deurne together with four other Brabant towns, make up the Land van de Peel. This region is not only packed full with interesting sights, it is also a part of North Brabant that is renowned for its incredibly beautiful countryside in De Groote Peel National Park.
We take the bikes off the motorhome in Asten and prepare ourselves for a trip of about 60 kilometres. We pedal through the Deurnese en Mariapeel, which together form the Groote Peel. This is a Natura 2000 area that protects biodiversity. As we pedal though the nature reserve, the birds are chirping with delight. In former times, the locals used to dig peat in the villages of Griendtsveen and Helenaveen which are on our route. This dried peat was a fuel that was found in abundance here. We decide to visit the Buitencentrum De Pelen outdoor centre again the next day, but then we’ll take our walking boots with us. But first, off we go to Camperboerderij De Soley, a quiet motorhome site in the middle of the countryside near Someren.
Here we are back at Buitencentrum De Pelen outdoor centre. Although we enjoyed our cycle trip immensely, we will discover today that the Groot Peel is designed for walking. We start the day with a coffee, and immediately decide to buy a walking map at the kiosk. We choose a route of about 5 kilometres, partly along a so-called log path.
Our shoelaces are tied, our arms and noses plastered with sun block, and we’re ready to go. Once again we can hear many types of birds chirping; which ones are they? It’s a mystery to us. The views are fantastic, as are the marshlands. And the highlight of this walk, literally and figuratively, is the lookout tower.
We stock up on some local produce at the end of the walk, the motorhome door is closed, and we set off for home. Goodbye, North Brabant, see you again some time!
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