This year, we spent a rather quiet Koninginnedag (Queen's Day). The night before, we headed out to the city center of Utrecht where we took a look at some of the goods for sale at the vrijmarkt (free market) and headed to a bar for some drinks when it began to pour down rain. Luckily, my time in the Netherlands has taught me to keep an umbrella on my person at all times. As all other cover was taken by others hoping to stay dry, the four of us huddled under my little umbrella until a space opened up inside one of the nearby pubs.
At around 1am, we decided to head home, first stopping to get a crown for my Little Broadway costume collection and some jewelry for me since there is no such thing as too much jewelry. All in all, we dropped about 17 Euro while strolling home (snacks included). Good beer, great buys, gezellig (cozy, snug, pleasant, sociable, chatty) atmosphere, crappy bands. Awesome night!
The next day we slept in. After so many beers, so much walking around, withstanding the awful weather, and getting to bed well past 2am, it was well-deserved. Around 3pm, we headed in to town to meet a friend of mine and her Dutch partner. As she was preparing to take the NT2 Dutch as a Second Language test (good luck Shahirah!), we spent the whole afternoon speaking Dutch. Which, I hope, makes up for the fact that we had a very anti-Queen's-Day Queen's Day. We went inside a restaurant (it was gorgeous out, so there was nowhere to be found to sit outdoors) for a few drinks, strolled around the less crowded areas a bit, and then hit up a Thai restaurant along the Oudegracht (Old Canal) for a delicious dinner. I did wear orange though!
Though my Queen's Day was rather uneventful, it was certainly not so for the rest of the Netherlands. Festivities took place all day - bands, games, markets, DJs, food, beer, performances and LOTS of orange. Here are some things that made this Queen's Day different from those past:
- This year marks Queen Beatrix's 30th year as queen of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Each year on Queen's Day, the royal family makes an appearance in a different province. This year's stop was Zeeland in the cities of Middelburg and Wemeldinge.
- The day before, Koninginnenacht, the queen unveiled a monument in memory of victims of the Queen's Day attack in 2009. Made of granite, the monument depicts a cardboard box with blue and white balloons rising out of it and is located in the city center of Apeldoorn, where the attack took place. .
- Garbage workers went on strike in Amsterdam on Queen's Day. The roughly 800,000 visitors to Amsterdam left the city piled with trash between Konininnenacht and Koninginnedag celebrations on April 29 and 30. Check out the video below to see the mess for yourself. The mess has since been cleaned up, but the garbage worker strikes in the Netherlands are far from over...
Until my camera returns (I'm so hopeful that it will that I won't even talk about the possibility that it might be lost forever), check out some of the blinding bright orange Queen's Day photos from Haarlem at Old Fart Expats.