When a man is tired of
LondonEdinburgh, he is tired of life
On impulse I bought tickets to Eindhoven, in the Nederlands. Why Eindhoven? Two reasons – it the cheapest option, and I had never heard of it before; I really like the idea of going to a place so foreign to me that I couldn’t point it out on a map(or even tell you the country it’s in).
I had no plans for this trip, no expectations and no knowledge of the city, just an AirBnB reservation and €20 in my pocket. Needless to say, my lack of direction ended up being my downfall, and on the bus from the airport to the station I started to panic. Not only do I not speak a word of Dutch, but Eindhoven isn’t really a tourist town – it’s the equivalent of someone flying to the UK solely to visit Liverpool – so my thinking was there would be little in the way of attractions for me to burn time before I was due in my reservation and I’d end up wandering aimlessly as the sun set and darkness fell.
Once I’d managed to get to the town centre (a 2 minute walk from the station that I somehow managed to turn into half an hour), I very quickly realised a flaw in my otherwise perfectly thought out plan – it was 4pm on a Sunday, and all the shops and museums and galleries closed at 5, so I had about an hour to ‘do’ Eindhoven, a task at which it’s fair to say I failed. After a short while walking around the rather small town centre and looking into empty storefronts, my enthusiasm for this trip was flagging. To add further complications, my map (aka my phone) was very nearly out of battery and I had no idea where the AirBnB was.
It’s fair to say at this point I was thoroughly disappointed, not with Eindhoven but with myself. My total lack of preparation, local knowledge and phone battery were all preventable and by not taking necessary precautions it seemed I had scuppered what could have been actually quite a nice little city break. However, don’t feel too bad for me, as my luck was about to change.
I headed in the general direction of the AirBnB I had booked, and just as my phone coughed out its final direction I saw someone in an otherwise empty street hovering outside a building. Holding a suitcase. Looking at her phone. It took a few minutes for us to realise that we both had reservations in this 6-bed shared room, and once the initial confusion had subsided and we had checked in, we set out to explore Eindhoven.
Out of sheer coincidence and no planning on my part (see above), the day of my trip was the day of the Lampegat de Gekste carnival, a full-on street party right in the city centre, where everyone wore very fancy dress. During the day I hadn’t really wanted to wander in to the crowds of fairies and pirates screaming at the top of their lungs, but at night the carnival had taken on a different kind of atmosphere and we entered the seeming endless abyss of balloons and music and Mr Men.
Then came the issue of food. Obviously, whenever you visit a new place you just must try out the local cuisine. With this in mind, we opted to go for a Vietnamese street-food truck; I had heard from friends that one of the things the Dutch don’t do well is their eateries, which is probably why we couldn’t find a single Dutch restaurant among the sea of Chinese, Indian and McDonalds that were on offer.
All in all, what could have potentially been a depressing disaster turned into a cracking evening in a wonderful city I knew absolutely nothing about.