Sometimes you just need family. On Sunday I bustled Tess & Dane into the ol’ VW and drove to Den Bosch (officially known as ‘s-Hertogenbosch, birthplace of my oma, my mom & countless family members). It was a gorgeous day. Gorgeous drive. Little traffic and I was there in 5 hours. Why don’t I do that more often?

It turns out, Heidi (Zoë and Heidi visit Stuttgart; Climbing the Sint Jan; Kinderdijk; Falcon Trainer) needed me as much as I needed her. Her only child, Zoë, recently fled the nest, leaving Heidi rattling around the house alone. This is not as wonderful as I would imagine. We ordered Chinees (really an Indonesian “rice table”), drank a little wine and both let our heavy thoughts out. Her brother, my cousin Bart, joined us and soon I felt loved and myself again. Family is everything.

I had planned to see Nickleback in concert, my cousin Anne-Marie (Ted & Anne-Marie & Thieme) had scored us some tickets. But without Cole, the true Nickelback fan, and with my mind & soul just exhausted, we stayed in Den Bosch. It was wonderful! We played tourist and ate and shopped and laughed and giggled. I am rejuvenated.

The best thing we did, besides maybe eat kibbling (deep fried fish bits with garlic sauce), is tour De Binnedieze. De Binnedieze is the maze of waterways underneath the city of Den Bosch. The city itself was built on a swamp, as much of the Netherlands is, and the waterways were originally both a goods delivery system, as well as the city’s sewage system.  In fact, up until I was born it was still used as the city’s sewage system.

Because of it’s use as the sewage system, many Bosschenaren wanted the Binnedieze filled in.  Thankfully people like H. Bergé en J. van der Eerden understood the historical significance and importance of the Binnedieze and fought for its preservation. In 1973 work started on the restoration, and in 1998 it was finished… to the tune of 43 million guldens (the Dutch currency before the Euro).

The boat tour itself is worth it’s meager 7 (kids are half price). It’s not quite an hour, and the driver both steers the boat and tells the tales. I think my face was set on stupidly happy the entire trip. The kids and I loved the long underground portions.  There are many hidden staircases, some still in use, some blocked off, leading up to stores, streets or homes.  My favorite is the old, still in use, City Hall stairs.

My Opa worked at the Den Bosch City Hall for years. A couple of years before his untimely death, he took me to visit his old workplace.  He led me through secret passages, behind paneling and tapestries, even down the stairs to stare at the then-disgusting Binnedieze.  Nowadays bridal couples can marry at the City Hall and choose to take a boat (vs. carriage or car) to their reception. I almost want to get married again just for that experience.


Me, Heidi & Dane in Den Bosch


Playing tourist in our hometown


Off we go on our adventure under the city!


It starts getting darker early on.


There is light at the end of (almost) every tunnel.


Do you see the cows in the window? My people.


Going past the old prison on our way out into open water.


We are now outside of the tunnels, outside of the city, on the Dommel, looking at the old city walls.


Going back in through the old sluis gates.


When you leave the marketplace, and cross this bridge, you arrive at my aunts house.

Back under we go.

The balcony belongs to the home of J. van der Eerden, one of the leaders that stopped the closing of De Binnedieze.

Quote by J. van der Eerden


Entering the truly dark part and seeing the original city walls from the 14th century.


The kids loved this! They even hugged ❤


Almost back where we started. Time to go back to the 21st century.