‘s Hertogenbosch – by Mal

June 5, 2024

Hi hi! Today was our 3rd official day of biking! Most of us didn’t actually bike though, we took the train to our stop ‘s-Hertogenbosch (applause for those that did decide to bike today). For those of us not biking, we went to the market in town. The shops were mostly clothing and food, including homemade stroopwafels. It was fun to walk around and see all the shops, people, and pigeons. There are a lot of pigeons here.

It was a really beautiful day, sun shining and all that. It was perfect for trying haring, which are pickled herring with onions. You kind of just dangle the fish over your mouth and lower it in.

In the afternoon, we were warmly welcomed by Francien and Ferd with the water study group at Kring Vrienden. Ferd provided us with a professional presentation. He discussed a bit of the water management history about the Netherlands and specifically ‘s-Hertogenbosch. His presentation included some really interesting comparisons between the Netherlands and Vermont (e.g., the Netherlands has 20x more people per capita than Vermont).

He also shared some of the issues with flooding that the area had in their past as well as what the town, and the entire Netherlands do to prevent future damages. These would be the 21 Water Authorities that are responsible for flood protection and water management in their regions. While they still have a lot of work to do, especially given the issues with rainfall this year, they have made a lot of progress already (such as, Room for the River, which was discussed yesterday). 

We then went for a trip to a bakery (Jan de Groot) to try something that looked like chocolate covered cream puffs. Locals call them chocolade bollen (chocolate balls) while visitors attach a form of the town name (Den Bosch) to them by calling them Bossche bollen.

Later, we went on a boat tour with Ivo, another volunteer from the water study group. This was a very cool history lesson once again. We went underneath the buildings and streets of the town and looked at the canals while hearing about things from old sewage pipes to trees and paintings. My favorite part was probably seeing the bat sculptures that they put up, even if it was for tourists (I fell into their trap!) and seeing the lily pads.

The actual last thing we did though was go to dinner at an Italian restaurant. Good reviews of the food all around, pizza was really good, pasta dishes were delicious. Then we went back to the hotel. 

Just to touch on it briefly, I was responsible for discussing the social sustainability pillar today. So, especially when discussing floods, I can recall back to the Ahr River and how it led to destruction of so much economically and the loss of so many community members for their residents, even if it did show the strength of community in that region. When we look at natural disasters like floods, we tend to focus on physical loss of life and property– but what of the loss of community and the disruption of a person’s mind from such events? Another thing that I observed was how the government and Water Advisory of ‘s-Hertogenbosch was intent on minimizing flooding and its effects (even the more conservative people still want to mitigate the risks for floods) and actually managed to get it done. In the US, it feels like we can’t ever accomplish large scale projects like the Dutch have, so it definitely piqued my interests. 

To my family and my three kitties, love you and miss you all!

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