Its April 30, Queens Day in the Netherlands.
This is a major big deal here. A neighbor of ours, originally from
up north near Groningen (not nearly as easy to pronounce as it
looks) tells us that in that area, the people dont have nearly the
attachment to the House of Orange, the royal family, as they do in
this area, and here its bedlam. We opened up our front door this
morning and the first thing that told us this was not an ordinary
Saturday in Delft was the sounds of the dueling bands. As we
wandered around town, we saw that there were bands everywhere. Some
of the smaller streets were totally blocked by nearby restaurants
setting up tables and chairs for strollers to have a beer and
whatever food this particular place offered, and there was a lot of
Saturday is market day in Delft and usually the
fruit and vegetable vendors, along with those who sell notions and
things, are in the market area. Today, the regular market people
were not to be found but the area was packed with other things. On
this day, the Netherlands is a giant flea market. There are carts
and blankets everywhere with people laying out their goods. Some of
these folks have a professional setup, as if they do this all the
time, with items that are wrapped and price tags that look like what
youd see in a store. Others have garage sale motif; lay all your
junk on the blanket and see if anyone wants any of it.
There were also street musicians, kids, who were
playing their instruments with the cases open looking for a couple
of euro bucks. Two precious little girls, about ten or eleven, were
playing classical violin versions of "This Old Man, He Played One"
and that perennial kidlet favorite, "Old MacDonald Had a Farm."
Every time someone put some change into her violin case, one of the
girls would grin from ear to ear. It was delightful. Later in the
afternoon, in a less than prime location, a boy of about the same
age was playing his violin but very tentatively. Lynn is a sucker
for an underdog, so she dropped some change in his case, too. She
said he smiled at her with his eyes.
One of our favorite places in town is the
Beestenmarkt which Ive written about before. In the winter, it was
covered over for several weeks with an ice skating rink. Since its
become warmer, the cafes all bring out tables and chairs into the
square. I had lunch there yesterday with an American friend and the
difference between yesterday and today is hard to describe.
Yesterday was an ordinary, quiet Delft afternoon; today was not as
there were probably a couple thousand people in one square block. As
we approached the Beestenmarkt from a side street, we heard music as
we did everywhere. But when we got there, instead of it being
someones garage band whose idea of "better" is "louder," here we
had Delfts version of the Philly Pops. We thought we had gone to
heaven. We sat down (this was not easy to do - one had to keep an
eye on the tables looking for people about to get up and then haul
our collective tuchas to the table before someone else beat us to
it) to have a beer. The first thing we heard them play was Al
Caiolas oh so American theme from The Magnificent Seven, the kind
of thing Peter Nero and the Philly Pops plays all the time. I was
beside myself. We discovered that they make about ten appearances a
year and were excited to hear an orchestra again.
The friend with whom I had lunch yesterday came
here for Queens Day in Amsterdam. He had been here before for that
celebration and told me that there really wasnt a central focus,
that people sort of meandered around looking at the things for sale
and listening to the music. It was very much that way here. The only
official activity that Im aware of is Queen Beatrixs whereabouts.
Each year she visits a neighborhood in one province and this year
the province was Zuid Holland where we live and, coincidentally,
where she lives. Were not close neighbors although we used to be
closer when we lived for the first several weeks in Den Haag where
the palace is. The chosen neighborhood this year to be graced with
her presence was Scheveningen, our old neighborhood. A Dutch friend
told us she will go there, walk the streets for about an hour and a
half (that doesnt sound too good, does it?), presumably with her
entourage, and then go home to leave the celebrating to everyone
else. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
In the evening we went back out for dinner.
Things quieted down some. At 9 p.m. its still very light but little
ones have to get to bed. It became pretty apparent which vendors
were the pros and which were the amateurs. The pros had left with
almost no trace that they had ever been there. The amateurs just got
up and left, leaving all the junk they couldnt sell on the blankets
on the sidewalks. They didnt want it anyway, and nobody bought it,
so it was trash. And as we listened to the Delft Dans Orkest (Ill
let you figure that one out - visually it sometimes isnt too hard)
play on the Markt Square, the trash crews had already dutifully
started cleaning up the mess.
Ive enclosed two pictures taken from the same
this one. They are from the end of the street that we will move onto in
July. One was taken at the height of the celebration; the other was
taken 24 hours later. What a difference a day makes.
See all of my pictures of Queen's Day.