Waking up to a sky full of rain was not a good omen; neither was not having a single orange thing to wear! Koninginnedag, or Queen’s Day as we non-cloggies know it, is one of the few and far between public holidays allocated to the Netherlands-residing work force. It is this fact, rather than the celebration of the Queen’s birthday (well in fact her mother’s not hers), that brings out the celebration side of Cloggies, Expats and visitors alike.
Most of the orange-clad crowds head off to Amsterdam for the day’s festivities and with multi-coloured walking routes outlined in the newspaper and more events than the Kentucky Derby it is easy to see why. However I was in search of a quieter, more low-key day and something closer to home so decided to head off in the direction of Rotterdam city centre instead to see what it had to offer.
Keeping it public
Public transport is of course a must when taking part in any Queen’s Day celebrations, so it was with an umbrella in hand and the grumbling ‘Resident Cloggie’ (RC) that we set off for the tram station. According to the Metro newspaper, there were ten exciting events taking place, ranging from markets and drinking to performances and clubbing. We decided to set off in the direction of the Feest op de Meent, which promised to be ‘de leukste straat van Rotterdam’.
In hindsight we never quite made it the Meent, side-tracked instead by the market near the library filled with everyone else’s treasures. RC did try and get me back on track and heading off in the right direction but the combination of the sun beginning to shine and the bargain-hunter in me coming out meant that it was full speed ahead, although ‘not too quickly or else we miss things!’ down the aisles of goodies.
One small stop for a loempia and we were off at it again, this time taking in the goods all up and down Coolsingel. Somewhere along the line we noticed that a great majority of those around us seemed to have a free Marktplaats bag. Trying to be truly Dutch we went off in search for the gratis bag.
Me: Look, almost everyone has a free Marktplaats bag!
RC: Yes, they must be giving them out somewhere, odd that we haven’t seen where.
Me: Look that person doesn’t even want their bag, they just have it all folded up.
How can someone who doesn’t even want the bag gets one and we can’t find them.
RC: (laughs) Shall I ask them for it?
Me: Oh my gosh, that person has four of them! No wonder we haven’t been given one!
The next stop on our list was outside of the town hall where there was a marching band and presentations by the mayor. After being pushed by Cloggies galore in order to see the marching band just that tiny bit closer it was time to hit the alcohol stands. Rotterdam decided to section off an area of the city that was open to drinking; drinking outside these parameters was verboden and would of course, I assume, result in a Dutch fine and maybe even the removal of a few fingers. It was somewhere after this stop where we started to get bored of seeing mainly the colour orange, hearing loud music and not to mention that our feet were starting to hurt, so we decided to begin our retreat home.
Taking the biscuit
So is Queen’s Day in Rotterdam any good? If you enjoy fewer crowds and don’t mind fewer activities as the trade-off then it absolutely has potential, although I’ll leave the clubbing and partying critique to someone who has a bit more rhythm in their hips than I do. One thing is for certain however; it beats the traditional Cloggie birthday circle, cup of coffee and single cookie/biscuit hand’s down!
Oh and in case you were wondering – we never did find the free Marktplaats bags.
[Photos by Heather Tucker]
5 May 2008
Heather published her photos of Queen's Day on Expatica's newly-created flickr group at http://www.flickr.com/people/expatica/. You can also contribute by sending photos or videos. All contributed material will be credited accordingly.
American-born Heather Tucker lived in Estonia and the UK before landing in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Heather has a blogspot at www.cloggiecentral.blogspot.com.
[Copyright Expatica + Heather Tucker 2008]
5 May 2008
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