It’s been a historical couple of days here in the Netherlands: Queen Beatrix stepped down from the throne and her son, Willem Alexander, was crowned the first King of the country in over 100 years. As far as I can ascertain people are really happy to welcome him and his (super beautiful) wife Maxima. One point of controversy, though: the Koningslied, or King’s song. It was composed in his honour, introduced to the country, absolutely hated by many, eventually retracted, and then introduced again. I’ll let you be the judge: listen to it here!
Every year, new monarch or not, the Queen or King is celebrated with one night and one day of and markets and parties and above all, lots and lots of orange. Monday saw the last Queen’s day for the foreseeable future, and I was lucky enough to get to celebrate it with some of my wonderful friends from Groningen! Their pals in Delft (land of Vermeer) hosted a BBQ on their roof, which is right in the middle of the city, overlooking historic buildings from every angle. It was a hilarious evening and a great way to ring in a new King, if I may say so!
I was too scared to bring my camera, so these pictures are courtesy of the beautiful Barbara!
On Queen’s day (King’s day?), Pieter and I kept it a bit lower key. We donned our finest orange cloth (cough) and joined the throngs of happy folk out and about in Leiden. Events were organized across the city, including dance performances, face painting, an organ concert and, the most popular of all, a free concert by Leiden-born DJ Armin van Buuren. In fact, the square where he was expected to play in the evening was full all day, so we didn’t get to see any of the acts, but the music was loud enough to resonate kilometres away.
Little markets were set up around every corner, where kids bravely sold off their old toys and clothes. The tantalizing scent of poffertjes and loompias and fries wafted about, relentlessly calling my name …
I caved pretty soon and Pieter graciously shared a cone of patat oorlog – literally ‘war fries’ – with me. Fries, raw onion, mayonnaise and satay sauce … Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!
Re-fuelled, we continued on our city-wide exploration.
There was a kermis set up on one of the main squares, a little carnival with a couple of rides and enough cotton candy to make even the most hardened of stomachs uneasy. I had hoped they would have oliebollen – basically deep fried balls of dough rolled around in powdered sugar – but alas, or perhaps fortunately, they were nowhere to be found!
What we did find was a nice café overlooking one of the busiest canals, where we could warm up and enjoy mountains of whipped cream served with mini stroopwafels. I’ll take what I can get.
Around five, we both started yawning … it was time to head back. Things have changed since my last Queen’s day three years ago, when I stayed out dancing until the sun rose again! (To be fair, the sun rises exceptionally early here – like around 3 in the morning.) Even so, I had a wonderful day, and I quite frankly would choose a BBC documentary over a sweaty trance party more often than I probably should!