We have even working our way through the alphabet for anniversary trips. At first people used to ask “Where do you think you will go for X, Y or Z?” There were several options but they are well past (if you want know … Xativa in Spain, Ystad in Sweden and Zeeland in Denmark – Copenhagen essentially but was the other half of J, which was Jutland). And we are now on E again. There were many contenders… Essex, Edinburgh, England, Elgin…but we quite enjoy when it is a first time visit and often the alphabet makes us visit somewhere we would never normally go as a tourist destination but nonetheless is enjoyable, rather like the pleasure of canal touring, exploring lesser known places with there own charm and history.
We have enjoyed many holidays in the Netherlands (Amsterdam started off this whole alphabet thing) some in the summer, non anniversary cycling holidays but Utrecht made a second Dutch alphabet entry in an October break and this year we have decided to go further east to Eindhoven. We had an easy journey into London from Rugby, arriving in time to have lunch in the departure lounge, then Eurostar took us to Brussels where we transferred to an international train with no passport control, security check or frisking. Neither of us were actually frisked but Shane made the security lady smile and I had to remove my belt and was asked to lift my scarf in caseI was concealing anything.
Inside The Netherlands there was another train change, time for a quick snack in the platform, and we were on our final leg and all the trains were on time and spacious.
We have occasionally chanced on special events, an art festival in Copenhagen or fiesta in Xativa, but this time we knew in advance Eindhoven had a November light event called Glow. What we didn’t know was that our hotel was one of the entrants so there was quite a crowd in the forecourt and nearby there were unchristmassy lights up in the street, another part of Glow.
Although nothing to do with Glow, the hotel lobby outside our room looked like it could have been trying to enter as an arty light installation. It was a bit of a funky vibe altogether, in or out of the room, or outside.
Being right in the centre of Eindhoven the hotel doesn’t offer meals but says that there are a host of eateries all around and recommends you spend as little of your time as possible in it! It does provide access to a shop for food and drink if you really don’t want to go out. We went out, but with no notion where, there was an obvious buzz of festival atmosphere with stall selling glühwein, doughnuts, sausages etc. Despite a day of sitting we decided to sit in. Shane was introduced to witbier and that went down well and he tried another. I tried a light blond then I was trolled, not trolleyed.
The route of Glow events isn’t long but moves slowly, with stops to take in the exhibits so we spread our tour over three nights. Some were more impressive than others but all in all an excellent event, with no charge at all. Many were accompanied by music and that went with the lights. A cafe we lunched in said the best exhibit was near them, so we saved it for last and it was indeed a very impressive animated light display of paintings from the Rijksmuseum lipsynched to contemporary music. We enjoyed another musical item very near our hotel where there was a light orchestra. Different parts of the orchestra lit up to the sound track, as the instruments or choir sang, the colours changed with different notes too.
People were so busy walking, they sometimes missed the exhibits if they didn’t have a moving or musical performance beside them. We really liked these lit up oil paintings and are not sure how it was done.
There was a very long queue to get into one exhibit and we wondered if we had wasted our time. It mentioned that there were children’s drawings and the crowd filed past a display of children’s drawings which seemed to have light as a theme but we’re not as spectacular as even the exhibit outside while queuing to get into the hotel foyer.
We obediently moved through the hotel lobby and found it led into a church and there the paintings were lit up, the ceiling was lit up and floor were adorned with an ever changing display of flowers while a rainforest tweeted and squawked in the background.
There was another church, one we had visited by day with interesting exhibits from the basement of skeletons and artifacts. By Glow it was a different view. The queue was shorter. Prayers or wishes were projected on the walls.
On the last night we so enjoyed the final exhibit that we returned to watch it again after we had been for dinner. That guy from the sandwich shop, where Shane did not get a sandwich, but his favourite, Uitsmeiter, may be absolutely right it was the best. The medley of songs of several ages and genres had us all dancing singing along to Queen, Bohemian , Trio, Ich liebe dich night, du liebst mich nicht, The Buggles, Video killed the radio star, but I got the impression the young Dutch audience were not too au fait with the lyrics of Itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini. The paintings animation was highly entertaining and it was projected on buildings with a different projection on the buildings opposite.
Eindhoven has this Glow festival each year. It may be that it associates itself particularly with light when Philips set up his company here and set out making only light bulbs. On the site of the original factory is a museum and we visited it by day. The Philips family personal history, science, social history and development of medical uses of scanners and the development of music recording and graphic design and advertising were all included and everything was in Dutch and English. Another music treat here was listening to David Bowie, Rolling Stones and Dire Straits.
Much as I was impressed by the museum and the inventions and medical applications, I wasn’t sure the toilets needed to use the theme of light and glass by having glass walled cubicles. They were opaque to a degree, but more was visible than usual through the connecting wall.
The industrialist was also looking after his workers with a village that included recreational facilities and the link with PSV Eindhoven as the original team was from the ground provided by the company and later they were sponsored. The cafe had further displays about PSV Eindhoven. The stadium is reasonably central and we had already seen it on an earlier day.
There were Philips statues around the town too, plus of course several statues, some very serious and others anything but. We have had a good old stroll around since it is very pedestrian (and bike) friendly.
We have always enjoyed too the friendliness of the Dutch, plus their excellent English making it easy to communicate while still providing a change in culture. We were centrally placed and enjoyed a range of food and a few we have merited a return visit. Sometimes to get the same again, and sometimes to try something else on the menu. I was also in awe of the haberdashery department less than 5 minutes from our hotel. I wanted buttons so popped in and was amazed by the range available.
Shane had attempted some coat shopping, but it was me who ended up making a warm waterproof purchase. On the boat my winter coat has a broken zip and velcro is not sticking either, except to my gloves and scarf so I was pleased to find a velcro free waterproof with zip in fleece since my favourite fleece is starting to get worn and get holes in the pockets.
When the museum’s were closed we went for a walk in the park. Shane had a surprise in mind. I wasn’t told that he had found an extra attraction in the park. I was excited to see the sign for historical habitations but then we found that it is closed November to March. Last time we did E we found almost everything closed, luckily Bryn was not a tricky baby and tolerated walks in the rain (and may be sleet) remarkably well. The park cafe was also closed but we weren’t too far out of town so headed back to eat where we had had breakfast. We had a nice meal out at night. I’ve had a sore hip all week and was delighted that gin and tonic and several painkillers were having something of an effect. Honest it’s the tonic, not the gin that is a double. It was the most comfortable seat all week.
Shane took me on a mystery tour afterwards and this time while I had no idea where he was taking me, it was at least something that was not closed. It was open and in full use. Underpasses don’t look abandoned and scary in the Netherlands and this one looked fun. I had to keep out of the way of the cyclists and I still played it safe and avoided the funny walk. I’ve been doing a slightly funny walk all week. This is the first blog composed entirely standing up but a high kick is out of the question. Now for something completely different. Eindhoven is full of surprises.