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Bergen op Zoom

47km (29 miles) E of Middelburg

The center of this small town (Zoom is pronounced zome, as in "home"), close to Zeeland and the Belgian border, is alive with many cafes and restaurants.

Getting There -- The town lies on the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Vlissingen rail line, with trains every hour in both directions. By car, take A58/E312 east from Middelburg and west from Breda.

Visitor Information -- Contact VVV Brabantse Wal, Korte Meestraat 19, 4611 TL Bergen op Zoom (tel. 0164/277-482; fax 0164/240-176; www.vvvbrabantsewal.nl).

Breda

36km (22 miles) NE of Bergen op Zoom; 38km (25 miles) SW of Den Bosch

Breda was granted its town charter in 1252. In 1625, it withstood a 9-month siege before surrendering to Spanish forces. In 1667, the Treaty of Breda (between England, France, the Dutch United Provinces, and Denmark) awarded the New World colonies of New Amsterdam and New Jersey to the English. Today, life in Breda centers around the rectangular Grote Markt and the town's many fine parks.

Getting There -- One direct train arrives every hour from Amsterdam, going via Rotterdam and the Hague; and there's up to another six per hour involving either one or two transfers. By car, Breda lies just off the junction of A16/E19 from Rotterdam and Antwerp (in Belgium this expressway is designated A1/E19) and A27/E311 from Utrecht.

Visitor Information -- VVV Breda's main office is at Willemstraat 17-19, 4811 XS Breda (tel. 0900/522-2444; fax 076/521-8530; www.vvvbreda.nl), across the street from the rail station; it's open Monday from 1 to 5:30pm, Tuesday to Friday from 9:30am to 5:30pm, and Saturday from 10am to 4pm. A second office is on the main square in the center of town, at Grote Markt 38, open Wednesday to Saturday from 10:30am to 5:30pm.

Den Bosch

74km (51 miles) SE of Amsterdam; 64km (40 miles) SE of Rotterdam

The full name of the Noord-Brabant provincial capital is 's-Hertogenbosch, meaning the Duke's Wood, but the place is generally referred to simply as Den Bosch -- maybe the locals, too, have given up on trying to pronounce the longer version! This cathedral town (pop. 100,000) was given its town charter in 1184. Parts of the center city have retained their medieval atmosphere, in particular around the crooked alleys leading up to the odd triangular market "square," the Markt.

Getting There -- Up to four trains arrive in Den Bosch every hour from Amsterdam via Utrecht, and more from Rotterdam, the Hague, and Maastricht. By car, take A2/E35 and E25 southeast from Amsterdam.

Visitor Information -- VVV Meierei & Noordoost-Brabant is at Markt 77, 5211 JX 's-Hertogenbosch (tel. 0900/112-2334; fax 073/612-8930; www.vvvdenbosch.nl). The office is open Monday from 1 to 6pm, Tuesday to Friday from 9:30am to 6pm, and Saturday from 9am to 5pm.

Eindhoven

32km (22 miles) SE of Den Bosch; 120km (82 miles) SE of Amsterdam

Its town charter dates from 1232, but Eindhoven limped along for centuries as not much more than a village. Today, it is tomorrow's city, a laboratory for the latest ideas in urban design, and ranks as Holland's fifth-largest city (pop. 200,000) -- thanks almost entirely to the giant Philips electronics corporation, which has been headquartered here since 1891. Despite its size, Eindhoven has only a few points of genuine interest for visitors.

Getting There -- Trains go to Eindhoven every 30 minutes or so from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and the Hague, and every hour from Maastricht. By car, Eindhoven lies on the main north-south A2/E35-E25 Amsterdam-Maastricht expressway.

Visitor Information -- VVV Eindhoven is at Stationsplein 17, 5611 AC Eindhoven (tel. 0900/112-2363; fax 040/243-3135).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.