The flight to Eindhoven is so quick – 45 minutes! People in the UK should visit the Netherlands, if nothing else, but for the shear proximity. In comparison, 45 minutes into my coach ride from London Victoria to London Stanstead, I had only reached the Tower of London… Also, the views flying into the country are stunning; the shoreline is edged with a plethora of islands, interconnected by winding threads of roads and bridges, and it’s so flat that the land looks as though it’s just a thin, motley green sheet floating precariously on the sea, ready to sink or be swept away at any minute.
In what appears to be my standard slipshod style, I arrive with no local currency (despite only going to Germany a few weeks before). However, I thought that this wouldn’t have been a problem as my parents visited the Netherlands earlier in the year and noted, on several occasions, that airport shuttle buses only accepted card. This bus to the city centre didn’t, but luckily the driver let me on for free. Another pococurante trait, which I’ve been aware of before my trips, is that I never properly charge my phone – it is in a perpetual state of senectitude, as was the case here. Amazingly, however, the bus had USB ports, and wifi! The Netherlands is doing great so far, it’s enabled me to be completely incompetent and disorganised, yet get to where I want to go and roam the internet for free.
The journey from the airport to the city wasn’t long, but in that short pace of time I saw so many bikes. Parked outside houses, lining the front of shops, seemingly free-standing on the pavement, crammed together chained to railings – everywhere, bikes are everywhere, it’s amazing. There are designated cycle paths too, and so many people use them. I’m in love already.
By the time I arrived in the city it was getting dark, but I found my hotel quite easily – after I went into the wrong, much nicer one next door and was politely told to walk a couple of metres further down the street. I should have known that my budget does not extent to establishments with night-time reception staff. I collected my room key from a safe on the side of the hotel – classy. At this point, standing alone at night on a random street in a new country, I was particularly grateful for my USB-supported bus ride, as I only had the passcode for the safe on an email and when I arrived at the airport, my phone had just a lean red line of life left. I should be more organised.
This time, rather than sharing a room with six or more randoms, with backpacks strewn everywhere, towels hanging from every bedrail and the floor scattered with islands of dirty clothes, I had my own room with my own little sink – what luxury (albeit, the room basic, the bed single and the toilet and shower shared).
There were a couple of pubs opposite my hotel, so I went to the closest one for a snack – bitterballen (beef croquettes with a mustard dip) and a beer, a nice end to my first evening in the Netherlands.