fifty shades of orange

Here it is, folks…the post you have been waiting for about Queen’s Night & Day, the investiture of the new king and all the celebrations that go with it!

Firstly, I have had some questions regarding the orange thing…why orange?  The royal family is from the ‘House of Orange-Nassau’, hence the relation of the color orange and the Dutch monarchy.  You can google it for more details – that’s what I would have to do too! 🙂

QUEEN’s NIGHT (April 29th):

We had been seeing the preparations for a few days for the celebration in The Hague on Queen’s Night.  Food vendors were popping up throughout the city center, and stages were being built.  A carnival popped up in the middle of the city.  The “Life I Live” free music festival took place that night and brought 7 stages (each with a different genre of music) to the city.  We stopped at three of them to check out the scene.

The Jazz & Soul Stage

The Jazz & Soul Stage near the Queen’s working palace.

This was a Folk stage...we watched a band called Mister & Mississippi.

This was a Folk stage…we watched a band called Mister & Mississippi.

Side story here – they had set up porta-potties and were charging to use them.  You could pay a little extra to use any of them throughout the city for the night, so we opted to do so.  This is what they chose to use to indicate our purchase…

Couldn't just do a shape or another word?

Couldn’t just do a shape or another word?

Anyway, then we made our way over to the main “Plein” (or open square) in town and proceeded to dance around for a little while.  (Most people were just standing around, but we went for dance party.)

Then onward to the Denneweg.  (You remember the photo that I shared in the last post?)  This is where everyone apparently chose to be also.  It was PACKED!  We met up with a couple of BC’s co-workers there.  After an hour or so, we needed to head back…early start to our Queen’s Day the next morning.  However, we first were faced with the challenge of making our way through an insane crowd to get there.  For those of you who know me well, you know that I am NOT a big fan of crowds and get a tad claustrophobic in such situations…so I wasn’t pumped about it.  Nor was I excited when some girl grabbed my orange sunglasses off my head while we squeezed through!  Seriously – how rude!  (You will note in the photos that I still had them on Queen’s Day – that’s because my awesome husband stole them back from her.)

Enjoying the Denneweg.

Enjoying the Denneweg.

This is what we were working with.

Here’s the after shot of the street from the last post.  This is what we were working with.

Luckily, we survived and were able to get home and get some sleep before our 5:30 AM wake-up call.

QUEEN’s DAY (April 30)

Background: Queen’s Day is when the nation celebrates the official ‘birthday’ of the queen…although Queen Beatrix’s actual birthday is in January, so she chose to leave it on the date of her mother’s (and former queen’s) birthday.  Given the new king’s birthday is just a few days prior to April 30, the date will change going forward for King’s Day to his actual birthday.

Back to us.  We were a little anxious about getting to Amsterdam in the morning, given the large amount of people expected to be there (and the large amount of people we estimated would be journeying there in the morning also).  But getting on the train turned out to be a pretty simple process…it was the after arriving in Amsterdam portion that became tricky.  We were somewhat herded down a certain way when we got out of the train station, so we followed along…realizing later that we were headed to the Dam Square, where a huge crowd had gathered for the abdication of Queen Beatrix and the investiture of the new King Willem-Alexander and their public appearance.  We unfortunately didn’t get to experience any of those activities, since we were on our boat tour.  I have been doing a lot of watching things online and looking at photos online and in the papers this week to see what it was all about.

For more information about the royal ceremonies that took place during the day for the investiture of the new King of The Netherlands, click here.  There are tons of photos of the family, other royal guests, and a couple videos as well…it’s a UK site, so everything is in English.

On our way down the street - huge crowns on top of the buildings.

On our way down the street – huge crowns on top of the buildings.

The crowd that had gathered int he square.

The crowd that had gathered int he square.

This was far from the location we wanted to be in, as we had a boat to catch.  So we weaved through the streets (many of which were blocked off) and tried to find our meeting spot.  Along the way, we discovered another tradition of Queen’s Day…the free market.  Basically, all of the city streets became a giant garage sale.  Anyone and everyone could set up a little spot with their stuff and try to sell it to those passing by.  Even at 8:30 that morning, people were setting up.

A canal bridge with people's things for sale.

A canal bridge with people’s things for sale.

We also noticed that some of the canals had been prepped for the day too.  Here’s a photo of one canal where the houseboat owners must have decided to prepare for traffic.

Houseboats protected by bumpers.

Houseboats protected by bumpers.

We eventually made our way to the boat…which I would say should have probably been filled with about 12 people.  However, we had 36 getting on board…yes, three times the amount that it was probably intended for…

Here’s a shot that my friend Megan capture and posted on her blog:

Before.
After, with a few people still missing.

So needless to say, it was basically standing room only for the five and a half hour trip!  But well worth it…  We started out early, so we were one of the first boats out on the canals.  This was really nice because we could move about freely, get through most of the city, and people were really excited to see us!  We did a lot of waving (seriously, felt like we were on display in a parade) and got a lot of shout outs.  I could continue to describe the day, or I could just show you.  Prepare yourself…LOTS of orange ahead!

My outfit - probably a good thing that it was chilly and I had to add some white and black.

My outfit – probably a good thing that it was chilly and I had to add some white and black.  Take note of how nice the wig looks now – it gets much worse throughout the day!

Aren't we cute?

Aren’t we cute? We were especially popular with the kids on the streets – guess we look like actual clowns? 

Doesn't this seem a little out of place?
Doesn’t this seem a little out of place?

With Ben!

With Ben!

With our expat friend, Amanda, who lives in Amsterdam.

With our expat friend, Amanda, who lives in Amsterdam.

More expat friends!  (I think our boat had more Americans than Dutch people.)

More expat friends! (I think our boat had more Americans than Dutch people.)

BC and Todd - there were seriously 12 or more of these photos on my phone.
BC and Todd – there were seriously 12 or more of these photos on my phone.

Inside our boat.

Bird’s eye view inside our boat and others.

You may be wondering how we were able to be on a boat for over 5 hours while some people were consuming alcoholic beverages without needing a restroom break?  (I know that we had some concerns going into it.)  Well, the city had set up bathroom stops with porta-potties for the party boats to pull up to…so we made a few stops along the way.

I really love the sign, if you can see it...

I really love the sign, if you can see it…

Here at the second stop, we witnessed some excitement…  It’s not really a family friendly story, so ask us about it sometime. 🙂  We also paused for a few photos here, of course!

Me & Megan

Me & Megan

The boys.

The boys.

At this point in the early afternoon, the canals were starting to get quite a bit more packed.  We ran into a traffic jam trying to get through one of the bridges and going down one of the main canals, Prinsengracht.  Crowds had also gathered on the streets to watch the boats go by.

(Also from Megan – sorry for the stealing!)

Traffic Jam.

Traffic Jam.

Traffic Jam.Traffic Jam.

The crowds over a bridge.

The crowds over a bridge.

All-in-all, it was a really fun experience to be on the boat during Queen’s Day.  And surprisingly, it wasn’t a very rowdy celebration considering the size and enthusiasm of the crowds.  We had only one ‘water thrown down from a bridge onto us’ issue, but we also had a ‘here take these free hats I’m throwing down to you’ situation as well.  They even out.

Once back on land, we wandered through the streets with our fellow expats (the group that started at about the same time as us) for a while checking out the scene.  We even stopped at a few food vendors for some snacks.  My favorite – fries and mayo!  There were more crowds to pass through (and there was another hat taken from the head scenario), but it was fun to Amsterdam all decked out in orange.

FRITES!  So healthy.

FRITES! So healthy.

Museumplein all set up for the concert that evening.

Museumplein all set up for the concert that evening.  That’s former Queen Bea on the screen.

Flashing a 'W' for King Willem-Alexander.

Flashing a ‘W’ for King Willem-Alexander.

Street traffic.

Street traffic.

Group shot!  (This is what I meant about the wig not surviving through the day.)

Group shot! (This is what I meant about the wig not surviving through the day.)

We headed back to Den Haag that night, our bodies exhausted from the holiday festivities.  We calculated that we walked (getting to the train station in Den Haag, getting to the boat, and during our post-boat excursion) about 10 miles that day, not to mention standing (and dancing, of course) on a boat for 5.5 hours.  I can still feel it. 🙂

What a fun day!  Many thanks to those who organized and invited us along.  We really enjoyed spending time with friends and having Ben join us from Paris as well!

Hope you enjoyed the photos. 🙂

Until next time,
-MK-

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