Mike Strachan’s e-mail journal — Entry #24, from Netherlands
Received 16 May 2008
Travels for May 14/08 — Oostburg, The Netherlands
At 6 AM I'm suddenly awakened in my hotel room overlooking the square by the noise of a truck, then what sounds like plastic garbage bins being dragged over cobblestones. Hopefully it will stop if it's garbage removal, but it doesn't. It turns out the truck is loaded with produce, and it is pulling a trailer which opens up into market stalls. No sleeping in for me today. The sound of voices haggling over produce starts at 8:30.
Breakfast was a good laugh — the server was the hotel manager, and his English was partial. He asked me what kind of bread I wanted, rye or white, and I asked for rye or brown, so he brought white. This on top of the buses being on strike, and I just had to sit there and laugh about it.
After breakfast and checkout, I find that the whole square is filled with trailers selling clothing, cheese, fabrics, etc. At a so-called internet cafe, I tried to use a pedestal-mounted keyboard with a touch screen — very awkward. I managed to send a three-line e-mail to Tia before I gave up in frustration.
The tourist information woman arranges a taxi ride to the ferry for me at 11:15. She also tells me that market day is only on Wednesday — it figures. I just have enough time to go to city hall to see the QOR plaques there, unveiled by QOR members on 10 May, 2000. The plaque lists the names of the QOR members killed in the battle for the town, and a description of the attack which started on 25 October 1944, and was over the next day. Lt. J.E. Boos received the military Cross for leading a charge on enemy positions.
The cab ride is €20 (€2.50 by bus), and the driver tells me his boss has gone easy on me, as the normal charge is €2.20/km, and it's a 17 km trip. The ferry is a larger version of the Seabus to North Vancouver, but the trip is a longer distance.
The train station is around the corner from the ferry terminal at Vlissingen (Flushing), and the trip to Breda involves a transfer at Roosendaal. On the trip I feel sleepy, and I have cotton mouth, so it's a good thing I carry a water bottle in my day bag. It's hot these days, sometimes up to 29 degrees.
Today is just for getting a room and doing some trip planning. On the trip I notice that the Beveland Peninsula is very flat, with a dike in the distance atop which is a road lined with trees. These are the roads used by the Canadian army in 1944 when the fields were flooded and an enemy artillery observer could see for miles.
At Breda the tourist information centre (VVV) is across the street from the station, and soon I have a reservation at a hotel and information about rental car offices and internet cafes.
It's about an eight-block walk to the hotel, and the proprietor and I talk about the Canadian army in Holland for 15 minutes before I get to my room. It's a small room, but comfortable. Then it's off to the car rental agencies, an even longer walk. Hertz has no cars due to the bus strike, and Europcar has just one — a BMW Mini for €110/day! The agent says he'll reserve me a less expensive car if he gets a cancellation.
Next I go to find the internet service at the Café Sam Sam on the Grote Markt. No problem, and it's free, plus a North American style keyboard which only takes me a few minutes to get used to again. On my way back to the hotel I take the long way around along the canal, and I get photos of life in Breda — a fountain in a lagoon, an apartment building like the Sun Building, and a lighthouse at a dead-end on the canal.
Last items — planning tomorrow’s tour, then bedtime.