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My dad and I had been planning to explore Breda in the Netherlands for some time now, but each time we found a day we could go together, it rained, I got sick, something unexpected came up, and so on. Luckily we're both organizers and so we'd already prepared a list of things to do in Breda, the Netherlands and had long kept April 7 free as our back-up date.
A good thing we did!
After weeks of snow, cold, rain and greyness, the sun came out on April 7 and temperatures even climbed to 10°C. 10°C! In April! Imagine that.
Things to do in Breda: a little tour through the city
No need to say we were both thrilled when we left not so early in the morning. Breda is only an hour by car from my parents' house and by 10.30 am we parked in the underground parking lot De Prins, near Spanjaardsgat.
I had printed out a map of the city center, but there are also signs spread throughout the city that guide you to the most important sights.
From the Spanjaardsgat we headed to the Kasteelplein and the Valkenbergpark, which was really nice for a stroll. I could easily imagine myself relaxing there on the grass, with a picnic and a book.
From the park we walked on through the Catharinastraat to the Begijnhof, which was pretty small but very lovely. I'm guessing it's even more beautiful when all the herbs they've planted start to come out.
A really nice ‘discovery' (it was on my map but I hadn't been looking for it) was the Willem Merkxtuin. This is a small garden that's open during the day for visitors, but there are also people actually living around it. Quite a peaceful place.
After that we explored a little further, but it soon became time for lunch so we went on the hunt for food. When we made it to the Grote Markt (Grand Place) there were already plenty of people enjoying a drink or a bite on the terraces. Although it was just a mere 10°C, they were enjoying that first spring sun we’d all been waiting on for so long.
Because we wanted to have a decent meal without being cold, we opted for the veranda of De Colonie, a brasserie that served smaller snacks as well as real meals. We got to sit behind a window the width of the entire restaurant so it was almost like sitting outside, without being so cold (until they decided to leave the door open, that is).
As so often happened, I forgot to take pictures of our lunch. I think when hunger kicks in and food is presented to me, I can only think one thing: “EEAAAAAAT!!!!”. As a consolation, I do have a picture of the menu.
Pfff, such a tough choice… Maybe looking outside will help me decide…
Eventually, I had two ‘sateekes’ (chicken squares on a stick) covered in what I think was peanut sauce. And when I say ‘covered’, I mean covered. Luckily I liked the taste of the sauce and what I didn’t want could easily be scraped off.
My dad had steak with fries and a salad. The fries and salad were ok, but we agreed that his steak was rather small. I could’ve finished it, which normally isn’t the case when I order meat – (I didn’t finish my ‘sateekes’ either, so dad could have the leftover. Oh, that reminds me; my dad got his sauce in a separate bowl, which we both thought was a better way of serving it. That way you can at least choose for yourself if you want a bit or an entire lake of sauce.
Belgian chocolate… in Breda!
We didn’t do a lot of eating/tasting in Breda, but when we found a small chocolate shop that sold Belgian chocolate, my dad just couldn’t resist. He bought 3 bags filled with Easter eggs for just € 5. He later gave one of those bags to me and the chocolate eggs were just delicious.
With the emphasis on were, as I already ate all of them.
The shop on the next photo was still closed when we passed it, but we head to get a shot just because it says ‘Foreign cheese’ on the right.
Why is that funny? Well, because we always eat ‘Hollandse kaas’ (cheese from Holland, part of the Netherlands). It’s the cheese that’s most widely eaten on bread in the Netherlands and in Belgium as well.
And some more Belgian goodness to close off
By the way, we also found a small shop selling Belgian waffles in that street. When the shop owner saw me taking a picture of his window he gestured me to come in, but as I’m watching what I’m eating a bit ‘just a bit, chocolate excluded), I passed. Luckily he didn’t seem to take offense.
Shopping in Breda
With the sights seen and our tummies full, all that was left for us to do was one more thing: go shopping in Breda!
I used to go shopping quite often, but ever since I started working at my current job and started dancing on Saturdays as well, there’s not much time left for shopping and to be honest, I don’t miss it. There are other things I prefer to spend my time and money on.
Once in a while, though, I get an itch. I decide that I have to find this or that and until I find that piece – unless I'm able to wait just long enough – that feeling just doesn’t go away.
This time, I wanted a pair of Vans and a sweater. Or two. I’d been wanting some Vans for quite some time but for some reason I’d never really tried them on and whaddayaknow, one of the first (sneaker) shops we went into in Breda had the perfect pair for me!
Easy buy, you’d think, right?
Well, not if it’s me shopping.
I’m an eternal doubter. This goes for everything, but definitely also for shopping. So there I was, with the pair of shoes I wanted in my size, in a nice color, and yet I decided not to buy them because I’d first have a look online if I didn’t find any cuter colors.
Of course I didn’t. Well, at least not in the model I wanted. So the day after we got back from Breda, filled with regret, I drove to a nearby shoe store and ordered them – Of course they had them in every possible size but mine).
So I ordered them. And now I have them :-)
Funny stuff at Footlocker
I also tried on some sneakers at a Footlocker and while we were there a girl walked in. The saleslady asked her if she was looking for anything particular to which the girl answered… “I'm looking for some sneakers”.
I couldn't constrain myself. I had to laugh SO bad. I know they also sell some clothes at Footlocker, but I really had this “Well, DUH“, reaction.
This, of course, has nothing to do with the shopping streets in Breda, but I just had to tell you guys.
The shopping scene
Anyways, I was going to tell you about the Breda shopping scene, right? Well, there are a lot of small cozy shopping streets around the Grand Place and what is nice is that some of them are car-free. There’s also a big shopping mall, De Barones, but we didn’t check that out as we felt that the weather was just too nice to spend time in a shopping mall.
What also comes in handy for someone who’s occupied most of the day on Saturdays, is that every first Sunday of the month the shops in Breda are allowed to be open in the afternoon. The downside to that, however, is that it can get really crowded. Around 3 pm we fled from the shopping area to take another peaceful walk… in Dordrecht.