I’ve decided to share the quieter side of Queen’s Day, Koninginnedag, a day to celebrate the birthday of the former Queen, Juliana. The present Queen, Beatrix, spends the day with members of the Royal family, visiting towns throughout the Netherlands. It’s an official holiday with locals congregating in their towns and the one day in the year when anyone can sell things in the streets without a licence. It’s very usual to see children selling their toys (only to replace them with everyone else’s), teenagers busking, and everyone having a relaxing time. In Amsterdam hundreds of thousands of visitors and revellers flock to the city to enjoy free outdoor concerts and events.
Last night, Queen’s Night, is party time here in the Netherlands when anyone with any life in their soul was partying. Think Mardi Gras without the floats and beads, and instead of the Mardi Gras colours of purple, gold and green, the Netherlands in resplendent in orange. Although the national flag is horizontal bands of red, white and blue, when it comes to national celebration and football, orange is the colour of choice.
Today is glorious, blue sky, gentle sunshine and warm breezes. We walked into our local town and rather than post photos of Amsterdam, which can be found anywhere on the web, I’d like to share our day.
You may think our decision to spend a quiet day is the result of late night partying, having a great time, socialising with friends. You’re absolutely right.
Our wretched start to the day was the result of the above. But not our partying, socialising and having a good time. Having arrived back from Houston early yesterday morning, with no sleep on the plane or during yesterday, I was desperate to crawl into bed and sleep solidly for twelve or so blissful hours.
I have mentioned in a previous post that Harry, our youngest son, has two nights of the year when he parties and lets off steam. The last, at Halloween, when he dressed as a police officer, is well documented. Last night, the last Queen’s Night he’ll probably celebrate here, as he heads to university in Vancouver in a few months, he was determined to have a good time.
I won’t go into details, but we were woken at 3am by a girlfriend of Harry’s who thought him too inebriated to walk home. It seems (we learned later) a friend of Harry’s, the same friend who had been the cause of the debacle at Halloween, had passed out in The Hague, requiring assistance in returning home. A taxi was hailed – abandoning the bikes they’d travelled in on – several taxis in fact, none of whom would take drunk passengers.
They finally got the culprit home after paying a taxi driver a King’s ransom to ferry them, at which point Harry, in the cooler and more rarified atmosphere of our small town, suddenly felt the heady mix of alcohol and fresh air and promptly ‘fell asleep’. This necessitated the phone call to our house at 3am, along with several text messages informing us Harry had better stay where he was as he was looking a little green around the gills.
Needless to say we were awake at the crack of dawn (sheep have arrived in the field by us who feel the need to start bleating at first light) in pretty grizzly moods. Our walk to Wassenaar to check out the activities did restore our mood, along with text messages to Harry to get up and get moving.
He has been back to The Hague to retrieve his bike, which has, of course, been stolen, the third in two years…