Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Eindhoven, Netherlands trip: GLOW festival

This past weekend, my friend and I visited the Eindhoven and the GLOW festival. We met up with a group and spent lots and lots of time walking (my feet are still grumpy about that).

We drove up and it took about 3.5 hours. I would have preferred to take the train but with connections it was at least double to triple the driving time so we just drove. Our hotel was outside of the downtown area and parking was convenient and free.

After dropping off the car we walked to meet up with the group in front of Sint-Catharinakerk, or Saint Catherine's Church, a neo-Gothic Catholic church completed in 1867. Our tour leader showed us some windows in the sidewalk in front of the church. Underneath were some bones! Apparently they were found during excavations. Or at least, some bones were found. We were told that the bones on display are not real; the originals are being studied throughout Europe because of the supposed immunity of medieval Eindhovians from the Black Death (plague).

As we continued to tour the city, it was striking how much the Philips company (which has made everything from lightbulbs to medical equipment to widescreen tvs) has shaped the city. Originally, there were a bunch of small separate towns clustered around the original city. In part through the efforts of Philips, these towns were combined into a larger Eindhoven. Many neighborhoods were built by Philips for its workers. It's hard to find something in the city that Philips hasn't influenced, either from its original construction or through its sponsorship, such as the Philips Stadium.

Along the way I saw a cafe that I dubbed the crazy cat lady cafe. I'm not sure what's with all the cats but I don't think it's sponsored by Philips.

We stopped for a break at Brownies & Downies. I read on their website that the founder worked with people with Down's Syndrome and wanted to create a cafe that would help them with job skills through training. I think that to someone from the US, the name combination for a cafe is a bit unusual. I am not sure how it is perceived by the Dutch. Anyway, I just had a mineral water so I can't personally comment on the food, but my friend had a cheese sandwich with greens and said it was one of the best sandwiches she has ever eaten. She also ordered mint tea and was pleased to see that it was made with actual fresh mint leaves. The cafe itself is cozy with white walls and blonde furniture and wooden floors.

Following the cafe stop, we walked through the main shopping area. It was a strange mix of building styles, to the weird white geodesic ones...

...and the De Bijenkorf, built in 1969. The funny thing about this one is that it was meant to look as if it had four floors. However, the top floor is empty. It's actually possible to see through the windows and see open space. I like the strange emerald color of the building.

The next stop was the Effenaar, a music venue. The new version, built in 2005, is on the left. The club originally started with squatters in the former Van den Briel & Verster linen factory, the remains of which is the single brick wall. The squatters arranged live music and eventually formed made the building into a music venue.

Our group got creative at our next stop: the Berenkuil. This is an area where graffiti is welcome and encouraged. We broke out the spray paint and created a huge mural. Here is the small contribution from P, C, and me:

None of us are that artistic. Our creation is LBC: Lion Cat Bear with the double rainbow mane. 

After our artistic endeavors, the group split for dinner. I was hoping to eat Indonesian food as it's hard to find where we live in Germany. Those hopes were dashed as we walked quite a bit out of our way and instead ate somewhat disappointing takeaway falafel as we rested our tired and sore legs.

Look at these crazy vending machines we found! Ok, the pictures aren't good quality, but it's possible to buy a range of creeeepy fried food, mostly meats, from a vending machine. Many items seemed to be tube-shaped fried meat. Delicious...or maybe not.

Later, we enjoyed the light displays for the GLOW festival. More about that will follow...

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