Wednesday, May 02, 2007


After a day to recover I can now post about the weekend.

Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) is a celebration of the Dutch Queen's birthday. Technically, it's not the queen's birthday. It's the now-deceased queen mum's birthday... but the new Queen Beatrix's birthday is in January and the weather is shit at that time of year so now the queen gets to stroll around and wave at everybody singing her happy birthday for her mom. Sweet.

Not that it really matters - most people just want to dress in orange, get drunk and stoned. And by 'most' people, I mean 'tourists'. I think most Nederlanders actually just stay at home and enjoy a day off.

So the festivities start in The Hague on Koninginnenag (Queen's Night), the eve before. The quaint old-town city turns into a giant carnival with flashing games and whirling rides. A performing stage is set up every 150m throughout the city centre as well as snack bars and bar stands.

Eventually hauling ourselves out of bed the next day, we got ready for the actual celebration in Amsterdam. With orange hairdye, orange face paint, orange (silk) shirts and any other orange paraphenalia we could get our hands on, Mills and I looked like we'd fallen into a tub of tartrazine.

We headed into Amsterdam (getting more than a few stares) and met up with the rest of the expat group. From what I can remember, it consisted of: two South Africans, one Irish, one Italian, one Ukrainian, five Americans, two Dutch, one Indian, one American-Dutch-German and one Moldovian for good measure. Moving from place to place was fun as we had to keep this mish-mash of foreigners together - and I kept ending up with the two shortest in the group. In a crowd of very tall Dutchmen, everyone wearing orange and I was trying to look for two 4-ft-something ladies. Fun game.

The streets are absolute chaos as, just like the night before, there are stages set up at every corner. Trading laws are effectively abolished on this day which means that anyone and everyone can sell anything they want. There are jumble sales, lemonade stands, buskers, game stands, karaoke... some entrepreneurs even rent out canal-side spaces to be used as public urinals.

But the anarchy is not limited to the streets. The way to do Queen's Day, it seems, is by boat. Self-contained parties float up and down the canals - rocking with their own DJs and booze. And if they need to stop at a pub or for any other reason, then you just get as close to the edge as possible and simply boat-hop from yours across any others in your path. It's very social.

After a long day of partying (and losing my return ticket and my drink in the bowels of a port-a-loo), we decided to call it a day.... not before the obligatory mayo frites and kroket. I still have no idea what the gooey stuff is, they call it mince meat but I challenge anyone to actually agree with that description.

When it comes to visiting the Netherlands in spring, make sure to plan your trip around Koninginnedag. Definitely worth the party!


Peaches said...

Am so jealous that I missed it. Sounds (and looks) like it was awesome... and not a little bit orange!!

DaveRich said...

hey there. Did the same thing yesterday. Went to the Dutch fair in Benoni yesterday. Had haring brood, krokketten and poffertjies. Wore orange and drank Heineken. Cool day. Happy birthday queen mom.

kop said...

Krokets are the bomb! Damn I love those things!

Anonymous said...

O well, yesterday, we did a Belgian Day instead!

the parents got so pickled, so the kids went to play Advanture Golf.

good times

Koekie said...

Had never heard of the Queen's Day celebration until I arrived in the Netherlands. From now on, I'm probably going to attend any pseudo-party on the day - whichever country!

While I was eating the kroketten, the real Dutch were wolfing down the herrings... yuck.

Peaches said...

kroketten and herrings..


Anonymous said...

Please explain: what is kroketten

Koekie said...

Hi Anon - Kroketten are the plural of kroket.

The Dutch eat kroketten as one of their many fried snacks - another form (in a different shape) is bitteballen. The general format: squishy goo (supposedly minced meat, from my experience is very raw) deepfried in a batter of breadcrumbs.

Bitteballen come in bite-sized ball shapes, while kroketten are generally served within a hotdog roll - with or without mayo, of course.

Whatever that are, they make for great drinking-food. I love them on a night out...

ChewTheCud said...

Oooh that sounds awesome. Color me jealous Koekie ;)