From Nijmegen to Utrecht
Early as weather bad
Met up with Ans
Loosing a dread
Music, beer and poffertjes.
A walk through the markets in the morning, picking up a few bits and pieces. All the street stalls are out for the weekly market. Clothing, electronic bits and pieces, masses of cheese, fruit & veg, along with stalls and stalls of mobile phone covers…
We ended up leaving town a bit earlier than expected, as it was a bit dreary. Overcast with sprinklings of rain. Not the best weather to be out and about in.
The trip to Utrecht was fairly quick, and by the time we got to the station, the clouds had lifted and it was a bright sunny day. As we were so early, and Ans was not expecting us so soon, we just had to stop off in a cafe with outside seating overlooking the canals for a beer, then off through the city to see Ans.
We haven’t seen Ans since she visited us when we were working out in the Australian desert, a few years ago, and it was great to catch up with her. She has a lovely spot on the border with down town on the Canals. The ideal setting as it is close to everything, but still a quiet street.
People were already setting up stalls for the Vrijmarkt (flee market). This is a typical Queensday thing, where everyone gets to do a bit of spring cleaning.
Selling off old things they no longer need, and at the same time picking up more new things that they don’t need (we think to sell next year!) Ans wanted a small stall outside the flat, but someone else had already taken it. We still managed to squeeze a couple of small tables in for a stall. Officially you are allowed to start selling things at 6pm, but a couple of places looked to be doing a thriving business with “Lay-buy’s”
A few of Ans’s friends came over to contribute to the stall, and we had a chat and drink with them while waiting for the official start. Then we were off. The others had to run the stall, so we made our goodbyes and went exploring the city.
Queens Day Night. What can you say. It is a bustling, crowded, colourful extravaganza. Small stalls everywhere selling 100 year old cameras to desktop computers, clothing and toys, along with nicknack’s to celebrate the Queens birthday (well, her mother’s anyway). This year it is an even more special day as Queen Beatrix is retiring after ruling for 33 years. Her son Willem Alexander is taking over. All this happens tomorrow, so people are partying for the Queen tonight, and the new King tomorrow.
Imagine a really big market that covers most of the city, with everyone out and about. People coming in from all the towns around, and everyone is on the streets. Having said that, it is still quieter than an Egyptian street at midnight! The most memorable stall was a group of people that thought King Willem needs a beard. They were collecting hair from people passing by to stick on a portrait to send to the King afterwards. For this good cause I sacrificed half a dread, thinking that we need to check up on it tomorrow to see how he looks with hair.
At some stage we made it back for a quick dinner, then out again for the actual night life. There are stages set up all around the city. Most of these had DJ’s, but a few had live music. We tried to make it to these stages, but it was so crowded that you could hardly move. Trying to pass by a street stall selling beer could take over half an hour. You needed a second drink before you left the cue from the first. The squares with the stages were so packed it was an impossibility to get through,and you needed to detour through side alleyways that were just as busy, but moving at least.
A fantastic time to be in the Netherlands. The best side of the Dutch is on show, and although there is so much beer flowing that you would think you were in a beer fondue, people were really well behaved and having a great time.
We can’t wait until tomorrow!