Last weekend, I, along with a friend of mine, decided to visit the 2016 vakantiebeurs (vacation expo), in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Always considered to be for older people, the idea this year was, that it would it also be for younger people. Was it? Here my write up of a day at the expo.
First of all, nope. It’s still mostly focused on the 50+ crowd. It’s still 5 days of travel and tour organizations trying to sell their trips, hotels, and so on. They all basically give the same pitch. The only difference being the name of the place they are talking about.
For the visitors it’s still the same event you’d expect it to be; wade your way through the thousands of people (approximately 120.000 people visited the vakantiebeurs this year), try to gather as many brochures as possible, and soak up as much of the ambiance as possible. It’s almost like being on vacation. Only cheaper, (then again… more than 5 euros for a beer? Ha!) , and not as interesting.
This was actually my first time visiting the vakantiebeurs. It never struck me as interesting. Admittedly, I had a fun time. The expo puts you in the mood to travel. Some of the shows were nice to watch, even informing.
This year, there was much more to do than previous years (or so I’ve been told). The organizers wanted to attract a younger crowd, but also the solo travelers. There were a lot of booths offering virtual reality tours, there was place where kids could go rock climbing. There was a water basin for people who wanted to go diving, or learn to dive. People in need of unwinding could go and visit a Thai massage parlor.
Foodies of course, had plenty of places to be. Me and I and buddy? We decided to go for beer. We met a friendly couple who had turned visiting the vakantiebeurs into a tradition, and had a chat with them. They assured us that getting hammered here is quite possible. We chatted a bit more about traveling, music, and finally parted ways.
Though the beer was good (but expensive), our thirst wasn’t quite quenched yet. Luckily we ran into the Slovenia booth where we offered free wine. The woman at the booth gave an interview and demonstrated some wine painting. Using wine to paint seems like a waste, and she agreed. That’s why most of the wine goes down the tummy and only the last drops are used. Alcoholism leads to creativity. Or could that be the other way around? Unfortunately, I messed up the audio (the music was loud in this part of the expo), so wont be posting the interview. My apologies.
Though there was plenty to do, I declined most things, and ignored the booth operators. Just looking around and wondering was fine enough for me. There were some amazing booths and there were also some fine musicians. In the span of a day, the vakantiebeurs allows someone to pretend he’s traveling the world. I even saw a booth for Iran, something I did not expect.
Though the food and drink prices are ridiculous, it’s often too crowded, tacky, and noisy, the expo did what it set out to do: it put me in the mood to travel again. The Dominican dancers wanted me to hop on the first plane to the Dominican republic. The Thai booth reminded me of my fond memories of Thailand. If you’re looking for travel inspiration, the vakantiebeurs is where you could find it.
Just before I and my friend decided to leave, we ended up talking to Shashi Paudyal, president of the Nepal Development Academy, who came to us with an important message regarding the state of Nepal. You can read about it here.