A day in Breda

We didn’t choose Breda, it chose us, or rather the house did. It was the only house we could rent at the time. But we are glad it did choose us, as Breda is a vibrant city located in the heart of Brabant’s green landscape.

Breda is a great city for children, and the combination of its rich history and numerous day activities makes Breda an inspiring city to visit and to live in. It has now grown into a city with around 170.000 inhabitants.

The name Breda comes from a contraction of the word Brede (wide) and Aa. It is the place where the two rivers, the Mark and the Aa, meet. In 1252 Breda obtained its municipal rights, and at the beginning of the 14th century it was walled in and surrounded with moats, making it a fortified city. You can still find them all around the city.So, where to start your journey around Breda?It’s a very accessible city, with trains and buses coming in from all corners of the Netherlands and Belgium.

The VVV (tourist office) Breda would be a good start to your trip. It is located right outside the train station and here you can find information about:• Hotel reservations• Information on sights in and around Breda• Special events agenda for Breda and the Breda region• City walks, also conducted by a tour guide• Breda and Holland souvenir sales• Theatre and concert reservations.

Breda and its surroundings offer several possibilities for daytrips for families. Here are some of our favourites from our Summer Bucket list.

Children’s farms
Kinderboerderij Breda-Noord Lots of lovely animals at this petting zoo.

Bezoekerscentrum Wolfslaar Not only a farm but a natural park. There are many activities from farm animals, treasure hunts, bike hire, natural lakes and forests.

Joepie – indoor playground Raining? One of the many indoor playparks in Breda. Ball parks, climbing frames and slides galore.

Valkenbergpark Breda’s largest central park, right by the station. It is an ideal place for a picnic before shopping or sightseeing round the city. With a lake, river ducks, chickens and rabbits; there is lots to see. There is a small playpark with a sandpit and also a small café/restaurant.

Labyrinth in a cornfield A great invention! Spend the day trying to get out of a cornfield! What better way to keep thehusband and kids entertained.

 Puppet theatres 
 Two lovely puppet theatres with shows throughout the year.Muzipo    Irene Laros

 Kasteel van Breda Children and castles – a great combination! This castle is maybe for the older kids though. The castle can only be visited via tours conducted by the Breda tourist office.

The Breda Museum has opened several small establishments in Breda called ´Buitenposten’. All of them have some expositions for children too.
Miniaturenmuseum Breda Collection of doll’s house sand miniatures and other mini delights from Breda.

Only a few large cities in the Netherlands are surrounded by as many forests and scenic areas as Breda is. Those who want to exchange the noise of the city for the peacefulness of the countryside can choose from numerous possibilities in the direct vicinity of Breda, including boswachterijen Mastbos, Liesbos, Ulvenhoutse Bos, Chaam, Strijbeek and Dorst. There are about 4000 acres of forests and nature altogether.
Informationcentre Staatsbosbeheer  Forest where children can play (Mastbos). Climbing trees, a dwarf forest and much more!

Canal cruises
Why not take to the water and rent a boat to go round Breda’s rivers? Check out the tourist board for more info.

Swimming pools
Wolfslaar heated outdoor pool
Sonsbeeck indoor and outdoor swimming pool

Natural pools
Around Breda there are many natural lakes and “beaches”, try:
Asterdplas in Haagse Beemden.
Galderse Meren in the Mastbos.

Hof van Overveld  With mini-golf, animals, a corn field labyrinth and a pancake house, there’s lots to keep everybody entertained.

After a picnic in the park, why not take a tour round Breda in an unusual way?
Horse & carriageThrough the city centre. Tickets available at the tourist office.
Tourist TrainCatch the train outside the tourist office.

So many things to see and do, but of course there is one more thing definitely not to be missed. Three times the size of Disneyland California, it is the Netherlands biggest theme parkThe EftelingNot in Breda itself, but just outside, it is well worth a visit and easily accessible by public transport.

This post was originally on Amsterdam Mamas

The Speelotheek

It is a cold grey rainy morning, weather that really puts me in the mood for today’s activity. The weather represents the people and the activity. Makes me wonder why we do this every month, whenever we actually remember.

After breakfast we get the boxes out. Find, in the very organised filing system the paperwork for each box and the counting starts with the itemised lists in hand.

Box 1: 5 people one with brown hair (the others don’t), a door, the roof (which is actually attached, firmly with screws but is individually listed incase you have a child that pulls everything apart) a table, 3 chairs , 6 beds ( one was missing but the list now says it has been found) a house, battery cover and 4 screws.  Check all complete and counted. Into the bag it goes.

Box 2: Easy, these are coloured we can organise them in stacks of 10, doesn’t matter about the colour as if there are 50 (5 stacks of 10) all is great. Oh wait, one without a number, no F-123456 code must be one of ours.

Box 3: A game, easy, a board, 4 counters, and 23 cards. Wait a minute, there should be 24. Panic starts to set in. Oh the humiliation, the devastation, the embarrassment. Frantic searching under the sofa and CIA style interrogation to my 4 year Funky Monkey reveals nothing. We will have to face the devastating consequences.

Ready to go? Check the main form, S**** we are actually 1 week late, meaning more humiliation, more devastation and more embarrassment. Why oh Why do I put myself through this each month. Dutchie husband has given up, after one experience he refuses to go. But I say  to myself each time I do it for her, for Funky Monkey, she likes it.

3 boxes and 1 child piled precariously onto the bicycle we wobble our way towards our destination. No don’t glare at me big BMW, who didn’t know which way I was going to turn, can’t you see that I can’t possibly stick my hand out and let you know. I have 3 boxes to deal with and a child who is asking why she can’t later take home the Little Tikes police car that she can sit in. Anyway none of the Dutch ever indicate on their bicycles.

We arrive and jump into the best lift ever, a 10 minute ride to go up one floor which is 2 metres above us.
Funky Monkey runs on ahead and I can already hear the thoughts in their heads. “Oh, watch out, everybody at your positions, she is here”
I walk in and greet the lovely elderly Dutch ladies with my biggest smile ever. They are already smirking and thinking How late are you this month?

I hand over my bags and sneak away to search for more boxes to take home (Why I don’t know as I’ll have to go through all this again).

I am just figuring out the instructions in Dutch to a highly complicated game, when I hear ” Eh excuse me, excuse me” (They can’t mean me, can they? Please no) “Eh, English lady” I glance round hoping the room has suddenly filled with lots of English women. Nope Just me.

I saunter over confidently  trembling, here it comes, the humilation, the devastion, the embarrasment.
One of the ladies glares at me, “One of the cards from this game is missing” I mumble that I know and that we frantically searched for it all morning and that is why we actually arrived here 20  mins before closing time, certainly interrupting the long closing process that they always go through.

“We will have to fine you I am afraid and give you a ticket” Oh gosh it will go down in my Dutch criminal record.
I am processed and duly handed a ticket and fine of  2 euros.  2 euros for a square piece of card 2×2!!!

“Can we have the money now please? ” Now, but can’t I pay when I leave, when I pay for the things I take, I only have a 20 euro note.
“No it has to go in a separate FINE tin” Did she really have to shout it out, everybody turns round and looks at me heads shaking, What a bad mother.

I head off down to the bar to change my 20 euro note, trust me if I wasn’t pregnant I would have downed something very alcoholic by now.

I pay my fine and am told not to lose the ticket as I need it if I ever find the lost card under the sofa. (No I wont lose it , been through this before and brought back a lego block, clearly labelled with G- 123445 so it wasn’t ours (as I don’t know about you but I don’t tend to etch my children’s toys with numbers) But it couldnt be taken back as I had no ticket to prove that it was the one I had lost!

I try to make ammends by stating cheerfully that in box 2 I have organised the duplo blocks into towers of 10 and that if you check the list there should be 50.
“Oh but we have to check the colours and the ones with pictures”
“But they all have J-4685906 on them so they are yours and there are 50 in total, 5 blocks of 10 = 50”
Whoosh! it doesn’t matter the towers are destroyed and counted individually.

I wander away to check my new wares, I collect the revelant lists located under the relevant sections J for Jigsaws, C for Construction. I sit on the floor and with the help of Funky Monkey translating the Dutch words I don’t know, we finally have 3 complete boxes of new toys minus one army man which duly is written as MIA on the relevant list.  Maybe he went into combat under another poor bad mother’s sofa.

We go to pay.

“You are a week late, this means another fine” Now comes a scene that reminds me of the League of Gentlemen toy shop
“Josephine, Josephine.. this lady has to pay a fine, How do I put that into the atiquated computer system we have”
“Ok “I mumble
How much now? I only have 18 euros left after the last fine.
“It’s 25 cents per toy, per week, so that is 75 cents.
I hand over a 2 euro coin.
“Don’t you have any smaller change?”
Eh no? this is someone who pays everything by card you are lucky I even have 2 euros on me.
A huge sigh is given and the change handed over . She smiles and says “I would try to bring them back on time next time then you won’t get fined”
Oh my gosh not another 75 cent fine.

I walk out. Say goodbye and hear them “Tea, Maud? ” “Yes please Josephine, it was a hard morning”
I vow never to bring things back late again. (But I have a nurses set at home which should have been taken back before the Summer hols, now they are not open in the Summer, at 25cents per week I will have to pay a fine of 3 euros Oh the shame!)

The Speelotheek (Toy Library) something I did with Funky Monkey. Haven’t been there since having Cheeky Monkey but I will have to brave it once more I think!

Speelotheeks are located all over the Netherlands. They can mostly be found in Culture centres, libraries and town halls. For a small yearly fee and a monthly cost you can cheaply borrow toys.

Don’t let my experiences put you off! I love it really and moving to an expat country is all about integration and adaptation, I just haven’t got used to it yet in this instance anyhow.

Here are some in the Brabant area:

In Breda:

De Wigwam

De Panda

In Tilburg

De Duizenpoot (Reeshof)

All over Brabant

And in case you fancy an experience to mine!

T’treintje in Rijen

For other areas see this page here.

This post was written for the Expat blog hop. Week 23’s theme was Activities we do with our children in our new country.
Is there a new activity you share?
Link it up below. Then please go and read all the other lovely entries.


Bi weekly Day out tip – Mais Doolhofs

 Mais doolhofs. These are dotted all around the Netherlands. They are maize fields which have been made into mazes with treasure hunts and questions scattered round them.

Spend a day in a corn maze for a day of joy and fun. They are not too expensive. And many have other things to do too, such as trampolines, kart racing, climbing. Many have small restaurants and bars where you can get a snack too.

We went to this one in Brabant, near Dongen  http://www.maisdoolhofbrabant.eu/
But there are many more ……………..






Search on Google for a Maisdoolhof near you