another blog about the TB meet-up in Leiden

Leiden Travel Blog

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Another review of a TB meet-up…

 

There are people who suspect a cynic in me. I’ve even been called a pessimist by people in desperate search of the meaning of life, or at least of theirs.

I do have a somewhat critical outlook on life so I prefer to call myself a well camouflaged optimist.

I’ll try anything once. Anything that doesn’t requisite some form of ferocious death wish that is.

So on august 30th of the year 2008 I found myself making my way towards the Dutch city of Leiden to meet with forty-plus people I had never met before to spend some quality time with them.

Get to know some people behind the profile pages, to say it with a cliché. Not that I like to convey myself in clichés but they are unfortunately an often inevitable consequence of writing.

On the way there I picked up a fellow suspect so on arrival at the train station, the chosen location for the first encounter, I would know at least one person albeit for less that two hours.

Although I did shake hands with everyone present and exchanged the odd casual kiss I’m the type to observe the conduct of the swelling group. A few people knew each other from previous gatherings but most were perfect strangers.

I like the tentative form of conversation that comes with the early moments of social gatherings of this kind. Even though it was still early in the proceedings I was pleasantly surprised to see no-one had any need to affirm their position in the group.

After some time talking to each other and to the occasional commuter wandering what the concourse was all about, the driving force, Anna, took the assembled travellers in tow towards the city centre where she would construe a thing or two about the city’s history and points of interest. Serious effort was put into this by means of preparatory research to make sure everything was just right.

Putting everything across to the increasingly agile group proved to be a bit more difficult.

The sight of this party of people shuffling behind Anna reminded me at times of a flock of senior citizens loyally following a tour guide in some touristy place senior citizens tend to frequent. This brought a smile on although not too much. Respect for the elderly is always in place, even for the ones flocking behind tour guides in touristy places.

After the walk we -I had unnoticed to myself become a part of this group too- landed in a scarcely lit establishment called Olo Roso for the first drinks of the weekend in the safe knowledge they wouldn’t be the last.

While the drinks and accompanying tapas were consumed with taste still more TravBuddy’s trickled in and a nice buzz came about the place.

For dinner a small room was reserved above a restaurant. It barely fitted the whole group which was now at full strength with forty eight people of ten nationalities occupying the chairs.

Wine flowed in profusion but things, although noisy, never got rowdy.

A stop by the hotel where some people dressed up, meaning slightly more exposed skin and slightly less comfortable footwear, later we found ourselves roaming Leiden to explore the local nightlife. Even on a warm summer night Leiden cafés don’t want people to sit outside after eleven. On the first places we went to they couldn’t ��"or wouldn’t- accommodate us inside either. A cynic would be tempted to think Leiden cafés make enough money to refuse a group of more that thirty out for a good few drinks. But I’m not a cynic so I’ll discard that thought.

There was a place eventually that went through some trouble to try and make us stay there, a Belgian beer café no less. I wouldn’t have minded staying here for a while longer but then again I can be suspected of some prior knowledge about Belgian beer. Something which the better part of the people involved didn’t have. A fact that was a blessing rather than a deprivation because the place we ended up was the very place where we had our first drinks of the day. They went out of their way to accommodate us, from letting us operate the music system at hand to staying open longer than they had planned.

Dancing and drinking became the prevailing standards but yet again no-one indulged in behaviour usually associated with party’s.

The atmosphere became so that a somewhat sizeable gentleman by no means connected to this group got off his chair and had the time of his life. Losing a few pounds through perspiration made a nice bonus.

Some sources report of making it back to the hotel at 5:30am but I’ll keep it at 4:30. Not that that mattered much, it would have been 5:30am somewhere.

With foresight Anna had arranged for the people staying for the Sunday part of the meet-up to assemble at 11:30am so everyone had some acceptable amount of sleep.

Together with a handful of newly welcomed TravBuddy’s we made for a nice patio at one of the abundant Leiden canals’ waterfronts for lunch. It had been described as a typical Dutch Sunday lunch but consisted of everything one would find on lunch tables in any Western oriented nation except for the croquettes with a content indefinable to most non-Dutch.

A plan to go boating fell through due to a lack of boat so another stroll around the city, this time in bright sunshine, was undertaken. Over the course of the afternoon we said goodbye to TravBuddy’s departing for home or elsewhere left and right as well as to Anna’s voice.

A minor degree of sunburn was sustained by some as the day drew to a close. The eleven that remained went for a final bout of consuming in a presumably famous local pancake house. Many pancakes could easily be mistaken for full-grown pizza’s and not all were finished as a result.

The final stroll saw us back to the hotel where some people had their luggage still in a room provided for this purpose. The goodbyes there were somewhat more intense than some of the ones earlier that day as these were the final ones for everybody involved. For this meet-up anyway.

 

I can be suspected of many things but a grandstander I am not so exuberance is something I’ll seldom display. However, that’s not to say I didn’t have a great time. An international company of travellers is an environment I’ll gladly sojourn. Another not unimportant finding for me was that the meeting never went even close to assuming the air of a dating game. Sure there is a well dosed amount of courtship involved in getting acquainted with the people in a certain group, especially with members of the other -I deliberately circumnavigate the word opposite- gender, but the fact that someone was female or otherwise simply didn’t come into the equation for the most part.

 

I truly hope that these meet-ups aren’t overtaken by their own popularity which might cause the groups to swell to an unmanageable size. This would be the only conceivable reason to not advise other TravBuddy’s to take part in one of the many meet-ups taking place soon in a theatre near them.

Ending this blog on what could be suspected to be a negative thought? Maybe there’s a cynic inside of me after all… Nah!

row-zzzzz says:
Loved your write-up ... in my TB meet-up experiences I would say they started like yours also and ended also like your where you first go in with hesitation but leave feeling you've known the TB'ers for a long time and want to truly KEEP IN TOUCH ... love your writing also!
Posted on: Nov 29, 2008
seeUaroundtheWorld says:
It's always nice reading you!
Posted on: Nov 24, 2008
Joost1976 says:
heyyy great written :D
Posted on: Sep 19, 2008
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