It has been a BIG week here in the Netherlands! After taking some well needed time to re-coop from another month of travels and get in some homework, I was ready for Queen’s Day. Queen’s Day celebrates the Queen’s birthday (roughly… since Beatrix’s birthday is actually in the winter, but partying then isn’t ideal) and overall love for the Dutch Royal family. This year was a particularly large celebration since Queen Beatrix was stepping down (it must be exhausting work being a queen) and her son Willem Alexander and his wife MAXIMA were being coroneted. However, for an excellent description of the holiday, I encourage you to read this. So decked out in orange (for an explanation of the Dutch people’s love of orange see this) I headed to Amsterdam for a full day of activities and the last Queen’s Day (it will be King’s Day until he passes the crown to his daughter). On the train ride there I finally caught my first glimpses of the dazzlingly bright fields of tulips!
|Dam Square and the Royal Family|
At Centraal Station I met up with my Dutch friend Judith who took me to Dam Square where the legal documents were being signed to make the switch and where I even saw the royal family wave to us from a balcony! From there we walked to one of my favorite parts of the day, Vondel Park. One part of Queen’s Day is that anyone is allowed to sell things on the street without a permit, but in Vondel Park the children take advantage of this entrepreneurial opportunity. The park was full of kids selling their toys, performing dances or playing instruments for money, selling baked goods, or offering games. After getting our fill of adorable children, we cruised through other packed streets in Amsterdam stopping at people’s open living room windows to watch scenes from the coronation and royal festivities.
|Biscuit Eating contest. I WON!|
|Judith and I in Vondel Park|
|Compliments and hugs only 50 cents!|
Finally we met up with my friend Danean and few others at a park with music and dancing. When we had had enough techno music (it was one beat over and over again with a few variations) we took a ferry to my friend Nouha’s apartment. Even the ferry was a party with decorations, a DJ playing, and people dancing away. Once there we headed to a festival and danced for hours. By the end of the evening Danean and I took a much calmer ferry back to the train station and headed to Leiden which was covered in trash since the celebrations were just as huge there.
|Party on the ferry!|
|Awesome freight apartments|
|Danean, Nouha, Me, and Judith at the festival|
After a day to relax and study I then had my next jam-packed day. My Dutch culture class went on a bike trip through Zouterwoude’s polders and dikes before ending at a petting zoo of sorts! The baby pigs, goats, and lambs were too cute for words; plus Dutch children climbed into the pens with them to feed them from baby bottles. From the bike tour, I headed back to Leiden for a boat tour through Leiden’s canals with snacks, drinks, and friends to celebrate Danean’s last week in Holland. From the tour I had dinner at a student association (Quintus) with my Dutch partners and finally ended the evening at another student association, SSR, for hours of awesome Dutch student style partying.
|biking past some sheep|
|Dutch culture professor|
|kids and kids!|
|Leiden boat tour|
This past weekend, I finally made it to Gouda! Danean and I caught the end of the cheese market and walked around the small charming city. Most importantly we sampled plenty of cheese and enjoy a delicious wine and cheese plate! The next morning we were up bright and early to take a train to Wageningen (the pronunciation is ridiculous). It’s a small student city about 2 hours east of Leiden. Actually, after visiting I realized the university would have been a much better fit since they focus on life sciences and I finally found all of the Dutch hippies. Anyways, the reason for our excursion was because on the 5th of May, Wageningen puts on a huge celebration for Liberation Day (when the Netherlands was liberated from the Germans in World War II). We spent the day exploring the town, enjoying the sun, and hopping from stage to stage each offering a completely different type of music. We took a break for dinner with the family we were staying with and then headed back to keep on dancing.
|SO MANY cheese samples in Gouda|
|Wine and cheese in Gouda|
|We borrowed some marines hats =)|
I ended my week of amazing weather with a trip to the beach, Nordwijk which was absolutely lovely. Now I am off to London and could not be more excited!