Two Saturdays ago we loaded up our old Daewoo with clothes, nappies, bedding, teddies and assorted child-raising paraphernalia, and drove our two little ones down to Grantham. There, in the car park of a McDonalds, like some kinds of drug deal gone horribly awry, we transferred them into the back of their grandparents’ car. We received a casual goodbye from the children, a hug from Sarah’s folks and then set off back up to Chester feeling somehow lighter.
The reason for unburdening ourselves from our two delightful children for a week was twofold. One: Nanny and Papa had offered to have them (which is a no-brainer, really), and two: we were set to fly to Eindhoven the next day.
We flew on Sunday afternoon and spent four wonderfully relaxing days there before flying back on the Wednesday. We chose Eindhoven because we love the Netherlands – we took a family trip to Amsterdam before The Chap came along – and because it’s a cheap flight from Manchester.
After a rare morning of sleeping in, getting the house tidy and making sure we had all the right stuff, we drove to the airport.
It’s a brief flight from Manchester to Eindhoven. We touched down mid-afternoon and took a bus into the city, along 30 minutes of tree-lined roads and improbably long cycle paths. It was – we were shocked to discover – pretty warm. Hot, even. And so we traipsed with our suitcases and Google Maps to our hotel.
The hotel – the Inntel Art Hotel – was lovely, and very central. We were about five minutes from the bus/train station, and a short walk to two cinemas and loads of restaurants (and the PSV Eindhoven stadium, though neither of us could care less about that). And there was a hot tub in our room. (God bless lastminute.com.) As the name suggests, it was all very arty, with pictures everywhere.
So we unloaded and had a first try of the hot tub, then promptly lay down for a nap. Because that’s what wild 20-something parents-of-two do on the first day of their holiday. Suitable refreshed we headed out for some dinner.
Turns out there’s a Vapiano in Eindhoven. This is great news because Vapiano is the best chain restaurant in the world. That might not be objectively true, but we both love it because it’s fresh, it’s cheap, and we have fond memories of eating at the Berlin Vapiano on our honeymoon (almost five years ago). There are a couple in London and apparently one coming to Manchester this year.
I had a calzone. Sarah had pasta with prosciutto and ricotta. She had some hippy green tea drink with prickly pear in. I had my first Dutch beer of the trip. It was a joyous thing.
Fed, watered and generally loving life we decided to have a wander around the city in the still-warm evening rays. We scoped out a couple of museums that we’d seen online, as well as the aforementioned cinemas.
We took a trip into the supermarket, Albert Heijn, to pick up some things for breakfast. I love seeing the differences in foreign supermarkets. Turns out Dutch people are big on anything made of spelt (crackers, bread, cakes, pasta), and also love sliced cheese, hagelslag (that’s chocolate sprinkles to the rest of us), and beer. Oh, and at the end of the evening they give away all the flowers that are going out of date that day.
Spelt crackers, salami, sliced gouda, yogurt and milk in hand we headed back to load up our mini bar (and avoid paying €21 each for breakfast). Back just in time to fire up the hot tub again.
Part two coming soon.
Anyone else been away yet this summer holiday? Let us know in the comments.