We’ve spent the weekend as tourists. On Saturday, we took the train (quick and cheap) to s’Hertogenbosch not far away. They have their outdoor market on Saturdays, so we walked around that a bit (and I finally found a lap blanket!) and stopped in the VVV (tourist office) not so much to get information as because it’s housed in one of the oldest buildings in town. Not far from the market square (referred to in all our guidebooks as the town’s “triangular market square” (!)) is Sint Janskathedraal, a beautiful Gothic cathedral built from the 1300s to the 1500, and restored a couple times since. We walked around the cathedral, found that the office selling tour tickets didn’t open until 13:00, and walked around the market a bit more. It has stalls selling clothing, fish, meat, cheese, candy, fabric, shoes, hair accessories, and lots of fresh flowers.
At 1PM, we bought tickets to tour the cathedral tower, then walked into the small cathedral museum nearby. Our Dutch is not good enough to tell that the only sign on the museum door said “Please shut this door” but a moment later the woman came in to chase us out – apparently the museum isn’t free. Oops. The cathedral tower tour was interesting; the tower was originally part of a Norman church begun in 1220, which was repaced with the current Gothic one, and it has been changed and heightened over the centuries. The tour guide was a nice gentle old man whose English was somewhat spotty, but some others on the tour were from a Welsh choir that had been singing in town and brought their own interpreter. However, the old man, when he answered a question, answered the heck out of it, up, down, sideways, and diagonally, and didn’t quite seem to get the idea that when you’re speaking to an interpreter it is a good idea to pause frequently for him to translate. He was a very kind man, though, with a lot of knowledge, and one way and another we did get all of our questions answered. (The nest tour caught up to us about two floors up.) He showed us the bells, the carillons, and the fascinating old clock machinery (now supplanted with an electrical system), and we got a wonderful view out over the city.
The other main thing I wanted to see is a museum of Hieronymous Bosch, a native son, in another church, but it won’t open for another month so we’ll have to go back. On the way back to the train station we stopped for the obligatory kopje koffie, actually onion soup for both of us and a sandwich for Ted, plus koffie for him and thee for me (coffee and tea, as you probably guessed) and a Bossje Bol to take home and eat later. These are the local delicacy: basically round éclairs, the size of a softball, with chocolate icing on top and whipped cream (slagroom) inside.
On Sunday we stayed closer to home and rode our bikes to the nearby Historisch Openlucht Museam – and outside museum with two areas including an Iron Age village and a Medieval one. It was another nice day, and there were living history enactors there, brewing tea and making bread and soap, and a large contingent of swordfighters. There are several types of farmhouses, bread ovens, both Iron Age and Medieval forges – being demonstrated – and so on. It’s all set in a pretty park on the south side of town, and is a pleasant short bike ride from our apartment.. The museum was smaller than I’d hoped but nicely done, and we finished off with a snoep (snack) in the medieval inn.