Loosdrechtse Plassen

Things to do in Hilversum: Loosdrechtse Bos, Hilversumse Hei en Zonnestraal

I wrote the majority of this post a few months back and never got round to posting it, but since visiting Vliegveld Hilversum (Hilversum Airport) over the Easter weekend, now seems like a good time to share it with you. I’m obviously slightly biased towards Hilversum because I live here… but if you happen to find yourself in the area, then hopefully I can provide some ‘insider tips’ to keep you amused. So here goes…

Loosdrechtse Bos

Loosdrechtse Bos (bos = forest / woods) is located at the edge of Hilversum, bordering Loosdrecht (hence the name) and Hollandsche Rading. If you put ‘Loosdrechtse Bos’ into Google Maps, it’ll direct you straight to the Zonnestraal compound, in the heart of the woods. (More on that later.)

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The woods are extremely beautiful and (as most woods are…) just a tiny bit spooky feeling… especially if you’re on your own. The perfect place for cycling and walking in Hilversum: loads of people take their dogs for a walk here.

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If you want to visit, but aren’t familiar with Hilversum: a well-known landmark is Zuiderhof, a cemetery on the edge of the woods. Aim for here and then enter the woods from either side of the cemetery. (Note: don’t enter the cemetery itself as it is a dead end. No pun intended. Argh!!)

Hilversumse Hei

Hilversumse Hei or Heide (meaning hay, heath or moor) refers to the large areas of open space in Hilversum. I’m a bit confused about what all the different parts are called, but according to Instagram tagging, the bit that we visit most frequently is known as Hoorneboegse Heide.

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There are cattle grazing in the fields so pay attention to the signs and keep your distance from them. You are in their home, so play nice and follow their house rules. Like me…

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Or be like the Dutchie and go in for the full on close-up… he thinks he’s bloody Rambo or something! 😉

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I’ve seen these things run, so I stayed well back!! Aside from the scary cattle, it’s a great place to walk around and explore. You could easily spend a couple of hours wandering around the heath and the woods. (Or run or cycle, whatever you’re into…)

Landgoed Zonnestraal

Slap bang in the middle of Loosdrechtse Bos is Landgoed Zonnestraal (meaning Sunbeam Estate). It’s a former sanatorium used in the 1920s and 1930s for patients with tuberculosis. It was designed by architect Jan Duiker and is an example of Nieuwe Bouwen (Literal translation = new buildings, meaning Modern Architecture).

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It’s a bit more run-down than I was expecting but still interesting to look at. The reason for the sheer volume of glass was to let as much light as possible to enter the patient’s rooms and help them feel better. Sun = happy, right? These days it’s used a conference centre which can be hired out. Many local businesses are also located here – mostly clinics and fitness-related.

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There’s not much to do here, unless you’re feeling peckish – then there’s a brasserie. I made a special trip by bike to take photos for this post as I’d never been before and I have to be honest and say I was a little underwhelmed. (Trip Advisor – you actually let me down this time!!) The buildings are different, that’s for sure, and if you’re really into modern architecture then I’m sure you’ll like it… but personally I wouldn’t make a special trip. If you’re already visiting the area and fancy a walk anyway, ok, but don’t come here especially.

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In fact, I found this building in front of the Zonnestraal much prettier, especially with a dusting of snow! (Told you I wrote this post months ago!!)

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Vliegveld Hilversum

If you’re walking / cycling in this area you may also come across Vliegveld Hilversum (Hilversum Airport) which does what it says on the tin.

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We went for a bike ride in the area on Saturday, well – actually we were planning on cycling to Loosdrechtse Plassen, but we never made it that far – so we stopped here for a bite and a borrel instead!

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The two female waitresses were really welcoming and the menu had a good selection of typical Dutch cafe food… broodjes, uitsmijters, borrelhapjes etc. We had the bittergarnituur mixed platter and for once I actually enjoyed the kaasstengels! It’s a miracle!

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With bitterballen, obviously. These only score a measly 6/10 but as I’ve said before: you can’t get bad bitterballen!

For some reason this place is ultra dog friendly, so if you’re taking a furry friend, there’s a special menu for dogs called “De Waf Kaart!” (In Dutch, dogs don’t say “woof woof” – they say “waf waf”!)

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Oh and a hondenbar! The owners must be dog-people…

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So there you have it. How to spend a few hours in Hilversum on foot or by bike. And if you’d like more info…

THE LOWDOWN:

ADDRESS: Various. To enter the woods on foot or by bike, aim for Zuiderhof, Hilversum. Or park at Vliegveld Hilversum and start there.
OPENING TIMES: Always. (However I did see a sign that you can’t enter certain parts of the woods between 8pm and 6am. Seems sensible!)
PARKING: Free street parking near Zuiderhof and at the airport.
MORE INFO: Landgoed Zonnestraal | Brasserie Zonnestraal | Hilversum Airport | Hilversum Airport Restaurant (Websites all in Dutch.)

Next on the ‘Things to do in Hilversum’ list is: Film Theater Hilversum.

Where are your favourite places in Hilversum / Het Gooi area?

Hayley x

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Bitterballen Proeven: Trivio, Loosdrecht

Last night we cycled to Loosdrecht and stopped at a pretty little restaurant by the water to enjoy a glass of wine (Sauvignon Blanc for me, beer for the Dutchie) and take in the view. We’d already eaten dinner, so the plan was just to have a drink, but whilst I popped to the ladies, the naughty Dutchie ordered bitterballen! Naughty because we’re both supposed to be on a “pre-wedding healthy eating regime”… but what could I do? 😉

Trivio Restaurant, Loosdrecht

Veilige Haven, Loosdrecht

10 out of 10 for the view! I love being surrounded by water!! The bitterballen get a solid 7.5 out of 10. I like my bitterballen to be perfectly round, so a minus point for that. The mustard was a bit funny tasting, way too tangy, so that also gets a mark down and the bitterballen themselves were ever so slightly greasy, so a half point deduction. Still lekker and sitting on the terrace was gezellig, so a double thumbs up from two happy customers!

Hayley x

Fietsen naar Loosdrecht (Cycling to Loosdrecht)

We didn’t manage to cycle at the weekend as the Dutchie only picked up his bike on Sunday evening (after it had been lovingly stored by a friend for the past 3 years) but we went on our first bike ride together yesterday. The Loosedrechtse Plassen didn’t disappoint and I’m so glad to have them on our doorstep! (In Dutch terms, 30 mins by bike is “on your doorstep” :))

Bike ride to Loosdrecht

Bike ride to Loosdrecht

I was quite proud of myself for getting there without doing something embarrassing like crashing or falling off my bike… you see, I’m not a natural born cyclist. The Dutchie on the other hand was born with a bike between his legs it seems. He was happily speeding along, beer in one hand, phone in the other taking photos!  (He’s one of those annoying people who are good at everything: cycling, snooker, darts, ping pong, even football. You name it, he’ll do it well.) But we eventually reached a happy medium once I’d gained a bit of confidence and speed!

Taken by the Dutchie of me lagging behind!

The Dutchie took this pic of me lagging behind!

We arrived at the lakes at the perfect time, just as the sun was beginning to set, which made for some spectacular views!

Sun setting in Loosdrecht

Sun setting in Loosdrecht

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We also saw some people water-skiing which looked like fun, but far too dangerous for a scaredy cat like me!!

Water skiing in Loosdrecht

Water-skiing in Loosdrecht

After we had soaked up the views and taken some pictures, it was clearly borreltijd so we went off in search of beer and bitterballen! Whilst we passed at least 5 cafes en route, it was hard to find one which was actually open at 9pm on a Monday evening. We wanted to stop at “The Quiet Piss” (De Stille Plas – it actually means The Silent Lake, but plassen also means to pee, so I prefer my translation!) but unfortunately it was gesloten (closed.) Sad face.

De Stille Plas, Loosdrecht

De Stille Plas, Loosdrecht

Instead we found Het Praethuys (Old Dutch, it means the Talking House) which was an excellent choice. The lady behind the bar was extremely friendly, nothing was too much trouble and the other patrons were really friendly too – greeting us when we arrived and when we left. It’s located on a caravan/ holiday park (one of many in the area) so maybe that’s just what the community is like there 🙂 Gezellig! 

Eetcafe Het Praethuys

Eetcafe Het Praethuys

We had some lekker bitterballen and kippen vleugels (chicken wings). If I’m Bitterballen Bruid, the Dutchie should be re-named Kippenvleugelman! He’s obsessed!

Loosdrecht bitterballen

Bitterballen at Het Praethus, Loosdrecht

I have to be a bit critical and give the bitterballen a 7/10. They were quite small, a bit too much colour on them for my liking and the coating was quite thin. I’ve had better… although they were perfectly edible and served with a tangy mustard (it tasted home made) so props for that!

Loosdrecht bitterballen, bijna op!

Loosdrecht bitterballen, bijna op!

I don’t think I’ve had a BAD bitterbal yet to be fair!

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View from the cafe

A lovely evening in Loosdrecht! I’m sure we’ll visit again very soon! My best friend is coming to visit in 2 weeks, so I’m definitely adding this to our to-do list!

Where’s your favourite place to cycle?

Hayley x

 

Being Dutch – Part 7: Fietsen

So, having had my first bike stolen (luckily… before I’d actually purchased it) I found another on Marktplaats (the Dutch version of Ebay) and I am now proud owner of one of the 18 million bikes currently in the Netherlands! A fully fledged member of the cycling community!

Mijn fiets (my bike)

Mijn fiets (my bike)

Isn’t she a beauty!? Of course, being a girl, next on the list was to make her look pretty… so off to the market we went! It was very wet and windy on Saturday but that certainly didn’t dampen my spirits!! We managed to buy a very beautiful, yet reasonably priced, fietsmandje (literally: bike basket) and some bloemen (flowers) to boot!

Pimp my ride!!

Pimp my ride!!

I haven’t ridden a bike for at least 2 years, so it was a wobbily start… but it’s true: you never forget how to ride a bike!! With a bit of practice, I’m already gaining confidence. It feels a bit like my struggle with speaking the Dutch language… you just need practice and confidence and you’re already halfway there! Now let’s hope I don’t fall off! (That 2 years ago was on a very wet day in England and I was waaaaay too confident!! Misjudged a curb and went straight over the handlebars!! Ooops!!)

In addition to the extensive network of cycling paths along the main roads here in Hilversum, we’re also very lucky to be on the doorstep of Loosdrechtsebos (bos = forest) which has excellent fietspaden (cycling paths.)

Fietspad

Fietspad

I think the Dutchie and I are going to spend A LOT of time exploring our local area by bike! It’s absolutely stunning!

Fantastic views right on our doorstep!

Fantastic views right on our doorstep!

Plan for the weekend: ride to Loosdrecht to explore the famous lakes, “the Loosdrechtse Plassen”… which makes me giggle because plassen means to pee! 

Yep, I’m a child! 😉

Hayley x