📸 — Eindhoven, Netherlands

One of the best things about traveling is having the chance to meet people. Whether it’s meeting locals to learn about their lives or other tourists to experience something cool while traveling together.

But Joris and Maartje take this pleasure to a whole new level. We met them back in Guatemala during our interesting stay in Rio Dulce. We enjoyed each others company so much that we coordinated our next stop to Tikal together and had some interesting adventures along the way (namely the hotel we booked turned out to be overbooked when we arrived at 1am… and then had to stay at a sketchy hotel they coordinated for one night before checking into our actual very nice hotel… GOOD TIMES!). After Guatemala, we parted ways and they both said that if we ever planned to visit The Netherlands we had a place to stay with them.

Then (yes, our friendship story continues..) we had the chance to meet again for less than 24 hours in Sofia, Bulgaria! They were spending their last two weeks of summer vacation and we were booking the cheapest flight out of the Schengen zone.

Our travels did bring us to The Netherlands to visit family, but also a special stop in Eindhoven, the 2011 World Brain Port (the highest density of smart people…) and home of our awesome friends.

So that is our friendship story and here are pictures of our time together. They are beautiful people and we are so lucky to have met them.

See more on our website www.alittledetour.ca🌏✈️👫
Right at the bus stop, there is a HUGE Bowling art display. Maeghan is ridiculously talented at Bowling and took some strange photos. She was also very upset when some other fellow bus riders followed her and started taking photos after her.
Maartje and Joris picking us up from the bus station with all our bags on our laps.
Our first stop was the grocery store and we went all out picking Maeghan’s favorite dutch snacks.
Oli was stoked to let his creative music flow playing Rocksmith.
Rocking
Then it was time for some biking. Maeghan balanced super well on the back of the bike like a local. She must be dutch.. oh wait, she is!

Phillips (yes, the light company!) owned a ton of buildings here, it was the HQ and founding place of the company. But since they have turned their focus off of lights and on other industries — they have converted a bunch of their old offices into cool spaces. Like concert halls, skate parks and markets.

Day two, the sun was bright....and 24 degrees in October! Instead of a walking tour, we went on a bike ride around town and had Joris and Maartje narrate for us.

We had a super relaxing day planning and journaling. Maartje caught this moment of us truly feeling at home.

Now. This is a VERY important photo. This was the moment we learned about popular sport of Pigeon training.

You may be skeptical like us and say… “oh, you are pulling my leg, no way people train pigeons..” But boy are you wrong. In the Netherlands, it is a very popular sport of housing pigeons and training them to fly home. Then there are tournaments where you drive your pigeons to another country in Europe, and put a little ring around their leg... then let your pigeons loose and home they all fly home.

When they do, you take the ring off, punch in the time it arrived and call a hotline to say your pigeon made it!

Everyday, the neighbour let her pigeons out twice for a 20 min fly around the block. I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this and have a new fascination for domestic pigeons.

Maeghan has lots of family in the Netherlands who she has never had the chance to meet before. So it’s been pretty cool to have invites from across the country to visit and stay for a while. We met Oma DeLeeuw’s sisters daughter Marie Therese for the first time. She invited us out to her house with her family for an unofficial Canadian Thanksgiving dinner and served Indonesian food (a family classic!). We didn’t know what to expect. Upon arriving to their home, we were greeted by the nicest dogs, beautiful tiny ponies and most wonderful family. How lucky are we to have spent time there enjoying their company!

The next day, we had some more family to visit. This time, fake family.

Maeghan’s real family grew up calling everyone important or close in her life aunt, uncle, cousins… etc… (you can imagine how confusing this is for Oli..) but the Boon family in the Netherlands has been on exchange with the Smulders for the last few decades. We caught up with Aunt Margreet in Isolabona, then stayed a few days in Amersfoort with Wilco, Tiny, Rein and Suzanne. And now got to catch up with their daughter Juliet at her University in Tilburg!

Juliet and Maeghan last saw each other 7 years ago so it was pretty cool to catch up on life, travel and the latest drinks. This is an Aperol Spritz, it is super orange and delicious.

Back in Eindhoven, things got serious when we signed up for a trivia game against some of the world’s smartest. There were 34 teams and often people score 98% on the entire pub quiz (typically 60 questions).

We all have our strengths. Joris translated all the dutch questions to english AND together with Maartje worked through the science, health and European type questions. Maeghan naturally excelled at pop culture and any music past the 90s. Oli was on the ball for word puzzles and math.

We ranked 14th out of 34! Not bad for casuals.

To celebrate our win, we then went to a local brewery and played panic penguins, trinomios and pretty much became super friends at this point.

Because we had met them at the bar, Joris and Maarjte had bikes to get home. Oli and Maeghan both sat on the backs of them while driving… it was an event and no one died.

The next morning, Maartje made the most amazing breakfast, the same breakfast we had in Guatemala together! Poached eggs in a bread basket with refried beans.
They live in a beautiful place in town that is surrounded by a nice park we got to enjoy.

Now this is where things get a little interesting. We went to a art exhibit called Robot Love. We really didn’t know what to expect and it left all of us a bit confused. But in short, the exhibit tries to encourage viewers to think of a world where robots and people co-exist and how that will play on the way we live and the relationships we will have.

The exhibit is in an old milk factory and the door opens when you get close to it.

This was intense. There was a nice dutch woman who wanted to practice her english in explaining.. but I think it made me a bit more nervous about the robot we were about to meet. This is a robot made to look like a identical twin who died and she is mourning the loss of her sister. You are suppose to go up to the robot who is in a dark corner and console her. Maartje was the bravest to do so, and the robot turns and looks at you and responds to your voice and touch.

I’m still not sure what this was.

This was the “Most advanced AI tickle machine” you lie on a bed, and a little thing at the end of a string comes from the ceiling and maps your body, trying to tickle you. It was a very funny experience watching all the guys go through.

Then they had these robot faces that would sing songs and their mouths would move while the lights turned out. This was creepy as hell.

Lots of things to touch, grab, move, or watch from a distance.
A little alien girl with antlers and bug eyes staring as you walk by.
All car parts that push out bubbles.
Pondering the alien who is waiting for the bus.
After the thought filled day we went for coffee at a brewery (with Bitterballen — the best dutch snacks!) and this coffee was 3 euros and came with a whip cream shot of baileys and a chocolate truffle! Magic!
We had a typical dutch dinner that night and some Christmas dutch chocolate for dessert.

Our last day, Oli and I went for a walk around the park. We are super grateful to have met these two and have already agreed that a future travel plan should be coordinated together. Joris and Maarjte when you read this… YOU’RE THE BEST! Thank you so much for opening your home, sharing your time and making us feel so at home. We can’t thank you enough.

See more on our website www.alittledetour.ca🌏✈️👫