University was closed for the Day of the Flemish Community. The weather was good, birds were tsjirping, my legs were aching for some action. And that's when I decided to do a large bike trip. After some deliberation on remote-but-not-to-remote places, I decided to go for Tilburg, a city in the Netherlands, about 100km from where I live.
Tilburg is a large city of more than 200 thousand inhabitants in southern Netherlands. Tilburg already had a castle in the late medieval times, but it wasn't until the 18th century, when Napoleon gave Tilburg city rights, that it became a city of some importance. During the Industrial Revolution it became more of a mayor city, when wool factories were constructed, making it the wool and textile city of the Netherlands 1. After the second World War, it would hold the position but the economy imploded due fewer government money being poured into Tilburg.
Culturally, Tilburg houses two concert halls, three theaters, three cinemas, and some jazz bars and other smaller music venues. Besides the famous modern art 'De Pont' museum, it also has a museum about textile and many galleries and local artists.
Now that we got Tilburg covered a little, theoretically, it was time for the real thing. After some preparations, I left on Sunday around half past twelve.
3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Go!
It was a very enjoyable ride along the canal. The ride was prosperous, passing landmarks, such as Bobbejaanland and Hoge Rielen (where I had done a big 30th birthday party with friends).
I even enjoyed it so much, I decided to do a little detour. However, I found out I was ill-prepared, and had forgotten to bring food and/or drinks, and there weren't many places to have a quick bite or drink. After some hours, I passed a small city, and had some fries and burger. Quite tasty it was. It was curious to see that many of the shops there had poems in their vitrines or inside. I asked the fries-lady, and she told me it was for some game in the city.
After 6 hours, and some 110 km, I arrived without problems at the Hostel Roots hostel, a refurbished bank (including a secured vault).
The staff, Caroline from California and Wayne from Manchester, were very friendly. It was the latter's first time registering someone (as he was usually behind the bar), so it took a while before the process was completed. My room was at the ground floor, which came into the main hall, which had a grand piano 2.
After having settled, I went for a pasta (because that's what cyclists need!) at Happy Italian -- tasty and quick!3 I biked some more around, and got back to the hostel.
It was just me and the staff, and they invited me to come along for a beer in Little Devil, a bar 50m down the road. After it closed around midnight, we went back to the hostel, and I and Wayne 4 had some beers at the hostel bar, and had a game of darts, which I gloriously won :) Wayne got too drunk, and was rambling and forgetting everything, and I just went to sleep.
In the morning I walked and biked around, and bought some sun stuff, as I got burned the day before :( As I mentioned before, I was ill prepared, and didn't know that all the museums were closed, including the famous museum De Pont.
So I settled for some food, biked through RAW (trying to copy Berlin's RAW?) and visit the La Trappe brewerie. But I arrived too late, and they didn't do any tours anymore, so I walked around a little on the domain, and bought some cheese and beers. Biked back through the rain, played some piano, and went to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge because there was nothing else to do.
At the hostel I had a beer with Carlos, another member of the staff, and sat in the main hall, and listened to some guy's stories 5
It was a boring day, with not much to do, and not that much interesting company. Bleh.
On Tuesday I was leaving again. Woke up around 9, was delaying leaving a bit ... I don't know why. I packed, checked out at 10:30, played some final piano, and it was only at half past twelve that I hit the road. And the battery of my music player was empty :(
I did a small detour to see the rotating house, and then I headed south. It was a different and shorter route than the one I used to come here, but due to the wind and absence of sun, it was not as much fun. It was quite noticeable where the Netherlands stopped and Belgium started: the roads were in a much more abominable state ...
The part along the canal took a loooong time, but luckily I was able to buy some fresh milk along the way which gave me some power, together with a sandwich. When I arrived home, I suddenly felt exhausted, and I was very glad to be back 6
Tilburg is a very small city, quite colorful, but also has the feeling it wants to be bigger and more hip than it actually is. Also, my timing was not really good to visit it. The week after, there was some fair going around, and during the year, there's plenty of students.
I would certainly recommend the hostel, if you plan going to Tilburg (which I wouldn't recommend doing in July, at least). When I arrived there was nobody, but the other days there were quite some people, many there just for work.
- As wool was treated with urine during the process, employees had to bring a bottle of urine to work every day, giving the nickname of Kruikezeikers, those who piss into a jar, to the Tilburgers
- I tried to play some tunes, and got some compliments from Caroline ;)
- Some guys were throwing around pizza, and a piece landed on a girl. Her boyfriend stood up immediately, and a loud dispute followed, but it ended without fighting after 15 minutes
- Always been a barman, since he was 15 and got kicked out of the house
- He was a Dutch guy, who used to be a welder, grew up to management, and now apparently had made a 3e9 EUR deal with Belgium to replace all the iron bridges
- But I still had to see the play Rosas dances Roasas ... it was tough to stay awake