Written by Wildcat Dianne on 21 Jul, 2011
My birthday is April 30, and I am happy to share the day with four friends, Valerie, Laurie, Leslie and Ken, and the past three years, I have spent the day doing something special with either Laurie or Valerie in Florida since we all worked…Read More
My birthday is April 30, and I am happy to share the day with four friends, Valerie, Laurie, Leslie and Ken, and the past three years, I have spent the day doing something special with either Laurie or Valerie in Florida since we all worked together at one time. Now Valerie moved to California last December and this birthday (#44), I decided to spend the day in The Netherlands. Why do you wonder that I want to spend the day there? Well, folks, April 30 in The Netherlands is a big national holiday known as Queen's Day (Dutch: Koninginnedag), and if I lived in the Netherlands, I wouldn't have to request to take the day off from work like I do here in the USA. I would be lucky to have the day off automatically!
The history of Koninginnedag dates from the late 19th Century. It was first observed on August 31, 1885 when the then-Princess Wilhelmina turned 5 on that day. Wilhelmina (1880-1962) was the only child of her parents, King Wilhelm and Queen Emma and was the heir to the throne, and this was big celebration known as Princess's Day at the time, and it also coincided with the end of the Dutch children's summer vacation. Wilhelmina was Queen of The Netherlands from 1890-1948 (the first 8 years of her reign were run by her mother Emma until she became of age in 1898) and the Netherlands endured WWI (neutral) and WWII during this time. Wilhelmina and her family fled the Netherlands after the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940, and from her English exile, Wilhelmina was a source of inspiration and hope to the occupied Dutch with her speeches via the BBC. In 1948, Wilhelmina abdicated the Dutch throne to her daughter Juliana, who was born on April 30, 1909, and Queen's Day was moved from August 31 to April 30 in honor of Juliana's birthday. Juliana ruled the Netherlands from 1948-1980 and then abdicated in favor of her oldest daughter Beatrix who has continued the April 30 tradition of Queen's Day to this day.
Queen's Day usually was observed by the royal family with a floral parade near a royal palace in the Netherlands, but in recent years, the family has changed that and has started a tradition of bussing into towns and visiting the people on Queen's Day. Monique, her family and I spent the morning of the 30th watching on TV Queen Beatrix visiting a town and the Dutch do go all out when the Queen is in town.
My Queen's Day/Birthday started off with a hug from Monique and a Happy Birthday. She said the girls, her daughters Manouk and Jiska, had a surprise for me for later and were working on it in their bedrooms. Cool, I thought. A while later, Manouk and Jiska came downstairs and were going to sing Happy Birthday to me in English, but got shy an decided to give me their presents with a hug and saying Happy Birthday. The girls gave me a set of oven mitts with Dutch windmills on them in the traditional blue on white background. They also gave me a cheese slicer for the days Mom and I have cheese for dinner or as a snack. After watching the Queen on TV, Monique, Piet, Manouk, Jiska and I headed to downtown Vianen by foot to observe Queen's Day there.
Tradition in the Netherlands on Queen's Day is a one of celebration and flea markets. Most downtowns in the Netherlands are turned into huge flea markets where the people can sell their secondhand goods. The Dutch also observe Oranjegekte or Orange Madness for the entire day. That means they wear anything orange and some will dye their hair orange for the day. Before leaving the states, I tried finding an orange t-shirt that didn't have Home Depot on it (heaven forbid) for observing Queen's Day, but struck out badly. So Monique let me borrow an orange t-shirt with the Dutch Royal crest on the back of it, and Manouk and Jiska let me use their orange nail polish to do my nails. Decked out in orange, I was ready for Queen's Day!
Monique, Piet, Manouk, Jiska and I spent a few hours in Vianen walking around the town's flea market and soaking in the celebration. We also toured the Grote Kerk, Vianen's huge Protestant Church, in between flea market browsing. After enjoying a while in Vianen, we got the car at the house and took a ride outside of town to where Kasteel (Castle) Amaliaberg once stood. Amaliaberg had been a royal palace but it has since been torn down due to neglect, but its gardens are still there and on April 30, it becomes a big kid's fair where kids work the games tables and kids can play games or swing on the maypole in the middle of the garden. Jiska is almost 12, and she was able to participate in some of the games although she has been recovering from two broken legs occured from a degenerative bone disease and gets around on crutches or a wheelchair most of the time. Jiska was able to play a few games that allowed her to be on her feet for a short time, and she did great. It was a warm beautiful day in Vianen and the gardens were crowded. After the games, we retreated to the food tent and feasted on Dutch Frites (Fries) which were very addicting and yummy to my tummy. Hey, it was my birthday, and I was going to be a really bad girl diet-wise!
After we got home and rested up and had cake and fish and chips for dinner (Dutch Kippers can be addictive) and dusk was settling over the Netherlands, we headed back to town to watch the fireworks over Vianen's canal. Piet took his camera with him and I took mine with me, and we both took a lot of pictures of the awesome fireworks that ended Queen's Day and my birthday with a literal bang. I will now have very fond memories of my 44th birthday in the Netherlands and maybe next year, I will have to set some fireworks off in my yard for #45!
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 15 Jul, 2011
I arrived in The Netherlands on April 28 after a long day of travel that started in Biella, Italy at 6:30 that morning. After a crowded train ride from Biella to Novarra, I took the bus from Novarra to Milano Malpensa Airport which is…Read More
I arrived in The Netherlands on April 28 after a long day of travel that started in Biella, Italy at 6:30 that morning. After a crowded train ride from Biella to Novarra, I took the bus from Novarra to Milano Malpensa Airport which is somewhere I don't ever want to fly out of again. After a short delay of my flight from Milano to Amsterdam, I had a two-hour flight that seemed like an eternity, and only the thought of spending the rest of my life in an equally crowded Italian prison kept me from clocking the idiot across the way with a two-by-four (if I had one) for his loud and obnoxious singing. What did he think Simon Cowell was going to be on the flight and he needed to audition?! GRRR!
My flight to Amsterdam finally landed in Amsterdam and I got my luggage from baggage claim and made my way into the terminal where I knew I was going to wait a little while for my Dutch friend Monique and her two daughters Manouk and Jiska to pick me up. The girls had school that day and they wanted to go to the airport with their Mom to get me. So I went to the Starbucks at one of the entrances and got myself a strawberry frapaccino and sat down for a minute keeping my eyes out for Monique, Manouk and Jiska. I only had to wait about 30 minutes for them to get there. I met Monique and her family for the first time 10 years ago, and Monique picked me up at Schipol with both girls in a stroller. 10 years later, Monique and a much older and very taller Manouk picked me up at Schipol with this time Jiska in a wheelchair due to two broken legs from a degenerative bone disease. As Yogi Berra said, "It was deja vu all over again!"
After getting out of Schipol, it took us a little bit longer to get to Vianen because of rush-hour traffic which is notorious in the Netherlands especially around Amsterdam and its suburbs. But we finally made it to Vianen where I spent a quiet first night at Monique's small house in a nice subdivision resting and catching up with her. Monique made lasagna for our dinner, and it was funny because her husband Piet said I might be sick of Italian food after five days in Italy, but I never tire of Italian food and can eat it many times a week.
After a good night's sleep (it gets darker later in Vianen due to the Netherlands being closer to the Arctic Circle), I was up early and ready to check out Vianen. I didn't see much of Vianen ten years ago because I wanted to see Amsterdam and other sights. This time, I was in no mood to tackle the crowds in Amsterdam, and I was happy seeing things that Monique and her family recommended to me. My first morning in town, Monique and I walked Jiska to school since she can only walk short distances with her leg braces and then finishes the trip in her wheelchair. Then Monique and I walked to downtown Vianen and toured around the downtown for a while. Vianen is the Dutch experience for me. It is a small town and you can walk just about everywhere. There are shops and other conveniences that make it easy for the residents of Vianen and they don't have to go to Amsterdam or other big cities to shop.
Vianen is a very old town dating from 1337 when it got its city rights. Vianen was under the control of the Brederode family, a noble family and enjoyed many centuries as a free city and was a haven for serfs and escaped convicts from Amsterdam and other Dutch towns and cities. Vianen was a sovereign seignory until 1795. Today not much of Vianen's medieval and free city past exists. The only thing that still remains from Vianen's heydays are the 17th Century brick city gate and water pump and some of the old walls of the city which I saw on the way to the grocery store or town on several occasions.
Today, Vianen's downtown is still the center of life for the the people of the city, and I enjoyed walking the main drag where most of the sights and markets are located. The city hall and Grote Kerk (Big Church) are located here along with many other sights. The night before Queen's Day (April 30), April 29, there was a carnival in downtown Vianen near the city gate that Piet and Monique took the girls to and I tagged along. Manouk and Jiska each won teddy bears playing one of the games the carnival had to offer and watched them enjoy cotton candy before heading back home. A canal runs through Vianen, and the Julianabrucke (Juliana's Bridge) is an active drawbridge that raises several times a day to let barges and boats pass through on the way to bigger waterways. I enjoyed my time in Vianen celebrating Queen's Day and my birthday, and if I could move to Europe, this is where I would settle!
Written by Globe on 26 Aug, 2002
Thirty minutes south of Utrecht is the town of Den Bosch, the shortened version of the town´s full name, ´s Hertogenbosch. The town is about half the size of Utrecht, but makes for a nice place to spend an afternoon. The highlight is…Read More
Thirty minutes south of Utrecht is the town of Den Bosch, the shortened version of the town´s full name, ´s Hertogenbosch. The town is about half the size of Utrecht, but makes for a nice place to spend an afternoon. The highlight is Saint Janskathedraal, a huge church with two personalities: a Gothic section and a more modern red brick part. Inside, it is one of the nicest churches in the country.
Aside from the church, the downtown area has nice pedestrian shopping streets and a fun market. There are also several small museums, such as the Noordbrabants Museum.
Written by jurgen on 14 Sep, 2000
With the museumcard you have free entrance to most Dutch museums, or at least a mayor discount. Museumcards are for sale at most museums and are valid for one year. Adult cards cost 30 euros (2007). If you want to buy one, make sure you…Read More
With the museumcard you have free entrance to most Dutch museums, or at least a mayor discount. Museumcards are for sale at most museums and are valid for one year. Adult cards cost 30 euros (2007). If you want to buy one, make sure you bring a picture. Close