How Very American

It was our last evening in Eindhoven. We were invited to have dinner at the home of a Philips colleague who was from the states but had been living in the Netherlands now for a several months. She and her husband were desperate to be with other Americans! I had spotted some flower vendors at the marketplace earlier in the day so we swung by to pick up a bouquet for our hosts. The flower lady was one tough looking Mama. I worked up the courage  to snap a quick picture of her even though she looked like she could kill me three different ways before I could whistle Yankee Doodle.

Scary flower chick


Melissa and her husband Luke live in a lovely neighborhood; it was sort of in the style of a brownstone in Boston. They had immaculate taste.

Sleek and stylish dining room. Don't those flowers look nice?


I’ve noticed as I’ve gone through my pictures that I tend take more shots of strangers than of people I actually know, this can leave gaps in the story. Our hosts Melissa and Luke were young, hip and fabulously attractive. I failed to capture their images; so for our purposes we’ll use this:

Good looking couple


Our Dutch lunch had long since worn off so we were pretty well starving by this time. Melissa had told us that we would be having good old American barbecue, which sounded perfect; we were so ready for a burger by this point in the trip!  We were anticipating the smell of charring meat in the air when we arrived, but instead we found this:

Grill yet to be fired up


Luke coquettishly asked, “do any grilling? “ as he struggled to get the Webber going. No worries though, Melissa set me up with a Gimlet, which I had never tried before, very tasty!

Gin and lime, so simple!


We also had a caprese salad to nibble on.

Fresh tomato, basil and mozzarella.


The Burgers turned out splendidly.

Looks just like the Fourth of July


This day also happened to be my birthday, which I had totally forgotten about. Jeff had arranged for Melissa to pick up a cake for me.

Awwww, I was nearly verklempt.

The cake was chocolate decedance, but you might be thinking that it doesn’t look very birthday-ish.  Melissa got the cake from the local Department Store Bakery. Although Birthdays are a very big deal  here, the birthday cake as we think of it is not the tradition in the Netherlands.  The standard Dutch Birthday Cake is normally a pastry tart topped with assorted fruit and whipped cream, called a Vlaai. When Melissa asked if they had any chocolate cake the bakery lady replied “How very American!” Indeed.  We enjoyed our American cake and and said goodnight, it was a great evening.


We took a nice walk back to the Art Hotel and decided to have one last glass of scotch in the Netherlands. The bar in the lobby was well stocked and carried our favorite Lagavulin 16.

Ceremonial last scotch in the .NL

Plus we got to see the flower desks lit up.

Nope, still not practical

The walls glow too!


 Who’s got two thumbs and took his wife on a fantastic vacation?

This Guy!

But now it was time to head up to the room to rest up for our trip home the next morning.


Our journey home began with a train ride back to Amsterdam for our flight from Schipol Airport.

The coffee enjoyed the bucolic view

Those are cows gathered on the tiny peninsula


Once we got to the airport we had just enough time for a quick breakfast.

One last fresh orange juice


We had been gone for eleven days, and I missed my children terribly but, to be honest, I really didn’t want to go. That is to say, I wanted to be home but I also wanted to be in Amsterdam at the same time. How could I manage without an afternoon cappuccino and people watching at the cafe? No more strolling along the canals dodging the bicyclists! No more museums!  I wanted to still be able to walk across the street to have a scotch at the pub and chat with the locals; I just plain loved it there. Sigh…

But, in the end there is no place like home, and this grateful lady knows that home is pretty darn good.

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6 Responses to How Very American

  1. Very well done. Although I’ve been to Europe several times, I’ve never been to the Netherlands. We had always tried to see as much as possible in the two or three weeks that we were to be there, thus missing the relaxed ambience. If I do get the chance to return, it will definately be your way.

    • hjones says:

      Thanks Ellen,
      It was unusual to be “stuck” in the Netherlands so long and not on a quick European pass through tour. It really made me feel like, for a time, I was taking part in the culture there and not just a tourist.

  2. Melissa Hertel says:

    This post was great! I loved seeing the BBQ from the guest perspective. Note to self: Start the BBQ before guests arrive:) I will never again let anyone take a picture of me and instead provide them with a picture of Brad and Angelina, much more flattering. I am glad that overall your trip was a success. We really enjoyed getting to meet you and the part that really made me laugh was your reference to how important Dutch take birthdays. I followed your link about the birthday calendar and wouldn’t you know it., we just had dinner with some Dutch friends, and there, hanging in the bathroom, was the Dutch birthday calendar!

    • hjones says:

      It was great to meet you guys too. Don’t worry about the BBQ, we weren’t quite at deaths door or anything, just being cheeky! The rest of the site with the Birthday calendar is a hoot if you get the chance to browse though it.
      If you are ever in the states, come on over for dinner and I’ll make you a Vlaai.
      Tot Ziens!

  3. Donna Easter says:

    What a wonderful trip.I didn’t want it to end and I
    Wasn’t even there!

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