Saturday, May 4, 2013

Remembrance Day and Liberation Day Celebrations in Haarlem, Netherlands

Remembrance Day: (Bevrijdingsdag): The May 4th Remembrance service commemorates Holland’s liberation from the Nazi’s in 1945 and the end of the war with the Japanese. It also includes street parties and festivals in the city’s parks.

On May 5th Liberation Day is celebrated with The annual (free) Haarlem music festival in the Haarlemmerhout.


Last week the area where we normally walk our dog was blocked off from the public as preparations were made for the anticipated crowds in Haarlem coming to celebrate Remembrance Day and Liberation Day. 

Yes....these are urinals!

Entrance to the concert...taken Sunday morning, before people starting flooding in!


Saturday morning we went over the Intratuin (Garden Supply Store) to pick up the sod we had ordered the previous week so that we could finish the back yard.  To the rear of the store there are fields of tulips! What a nice surprise!

We worked on the yard the rest of the day and we were able to sit on the patio and enjoy it for a bit before dinner! Now, we hope we can keep the grass alive!


At 1800hrs the flags all around the Netherlands were dropped to half mast in honor of those who died during WWII. The flag was then lowered at sunset.

At around 1930hrs we knocked on our neighbor Bruce's door and he went out with us to watch the Remembrance Day ceremony. On March 7, 1945 15 men were executed by the Nazis at the spot where the statue sits on the Dreef in Haarlem. Every year there is a ceremony with two minutes of silence which occurs from 2000-2002 hrs. Afterwards the national anthem was sung. The national anthem is entitled "Wilhelmus":

In Dutch:

Wilhelmus van Nassouwe
ben ik, van Duitsen bloed, den Vaderland getrouwe
blijf ik tot in den dood.
Een prinse van Oranje 
ben ik, vrij onverveerd,
den Koning van Hispanje
heb ik altijd geeerd.

Mijn schild ende betrouwen
zijt Gij, o God mijn Heer,
op U zo wil ik bouwen,
Verlaat mij nimmermeer.
Dat ik Doch vroom mag blijven,
Uw dienaar t'aller stond,
de tirannie verdrijven
die mij mijn hart doorwondt. 

Translated into English via Google Translate:

William of Nassau
I am, of German blood, the Fatherland faithful
I remain until death.
A prince of Orange
I, free and fearless
the King of Spain
I have always honored.

My shield and trust
art Thou, O Lord my God,
on you as I want to build,
Leave me never.
I may remain pious,
Your servant t'aller stood,
the tyranny
that wounds me my heart.

In honor of those that lost their lives at that particular spot on the Dreef in Haarlem...their names:

Hugo Ruijs                                21 years old
Wilhelmus Alb. Jiskoot             28 years old
Albert Scheepstra                      19 years old
Jacob Miedema                          53 years old
Martinus Molenkamp                 46 years old
Johannes Oelschlager                 32 years old
Jacobus Oelschlager                   31 years old
Johannes Volkers                       40 years old
Johannes Rosekrans                   44 years old
Willem de Jager                          33 years old
Pieter van de Haas                      22 years old
Jacobus van de Haas                  32 years old
Peter van Slooten                        30 years old
Cornelis Hartog                           25 years old
Jul Alkema                                  19 years old 

 There were a lot of people in attendance of the ceremony. The Mayor of Haarlem spoke. Bruce was kind enough to interpret for us. Apparently there were other spots in Haarlem where ceremonies were taking place where others had died.

These pictures were taken Sunday morning...the day after the ceremony.


Sunday morning our plan was to take public transportation down to the Keukenhof Gardens

We had gone last year and loved it!  I had also gone twice before when we had traveled to the Netherlands in previous years. 

The plan was to take Bus 300 from across the street from V&D in Haarlem to Schiphol Airport. From there I had read there is a bus that goes directly to the Keukenhof Gardens. We didn't want to drive because of all the crowds expected in Haarlem for the free concert given in celebration of Liberation Day. Thousands of people were expected, and we were worried about getting in and out of the garage with so many people.

Soooooo, we took the Bus 300 to Schiphol, which took about 30 minutes. As we were heading towards the Airport, more and more people were getting on the bus wearing:

 We realized there was an Ajax (soccer) game today. Which meant that on our way back home in the late afternoon there would be a lot of people on the bus with us who would most likely be heading home intoxicated. When we arrived at the Airport, we looked all over for the next bus (#858) to Keukenhof. We finally asked at the Tourist Information office. We went to where we were directed and found a very very very long line for the bus. I overheard a man in line saying he had just asked someone how long the wait was.......about 2 hours! Sooooo, between the Ajax fans and the wait to just get to Keukenhof, we decided to go home, and go another day. The Keukenhof is open till May 20th, so we still have a couple of weeks to make it down there. We hadn't wanted to go earlier because the weather was so cold few tulips were out before this week! So, we got back on the 300 Bus to Haarlem and headed back home. 

The crowds in town are unbelievable!!! When we got back to Haarlem we could see people starting to come looked like a river of people heading to the Hout (the woods down the street where we normally walk the dog!). 

 Sushi place setting up an outside counter:


It's 2030 hrs. now and the music is going strong!  There are intoxicated people starting to wander around.......Andrew tells me that last year it was going till after midnight last year. We'll see how it goes!!! We are staying inside away from the crowds!

The concert went till around midnight. We are a few blocks away, I can't imagine what it was like for the people living closer to the woods where the concert stages were!  I hope everyone had a good time. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Queen's Day in the Netherlands!

What an exciting day in the Netherlands!  Queen's Day!  Queen Beatrix abdicated the throne to her son Willem-Alexander with a secular ceremony in the Nieuwe Kerk, a decommissioned church, before a joint session of the Dutch parliament. Willem-Alexander is now the country's first king since 1890. 

Queen Beatrix was the sixth monarch from the House of Orange-Nassau, which has ruled the Netherlands since the early 19th Century. People wear orange in honor of the family as you can see by the crowd celebrating in Amsterdam:


Haarlem celebrated on a much smaller scale, but lots of fun nonetheless! 

My boa and headband worn in celebration of Queen's Day!

I was out of the house by 8:00 a.m. to go to the Vrijmarkt (Free Market)! I had planned to be out by 7:00....but I just didn't get enough sleep the night before because of dizziness. 

The Vrijmarkt is like a huuuuge garage sale  covering the entire downtown area! I wanted to get out before the crowds, but I guess I was late......the streets were already getting packed. People set up their wares on the sidewalks all around town:

Bruce came by the house around 8:30 a.m. I got back to the house around 9:30 or so. Bruce had brought over some Oranje Bitter...the official Queen's Day drink. We each had a bit (it's very yummy!)...

and then headed out to do some shopping:
 Our purchases!
We stopped by the Parck Restaurant for lunch and watched the people go by! 

 Party bus....we saw them driving around town all day and into the evening:
 Young entrepreneurs selling freshly squeezed orange juice:

 and coffee:

Grabbel-ton. Bruce explained that for €.30 (30 cents) you reach your hand into the bucket of shredded paper and pull out a prize. I did it....and got a cute little notebook of paper!
 Musicians everywhere!  Of course, we always contribute to the young musicians!
 Bands were set up all over town!
 Unusual costumes galore!

 The Netherlands flag was on display all over town:

Lots of people in the Botermarkt today!  Another band set up at the other end of the plaza.....I couldn't get down there due to the crowds:

 Bicycles everywhere. People parked them wherever they could and walked into Haarlem Centrum:

 Clean up time!

 We had started walking towards the Grote Markt thinking we'd find a place to sit and "people watch", but noticed that people were already getting intoxicated.....sooooo we walked along the Spaarne River and found a nice cafe where we could sit at the  quiet end of town...


By the time we got home my head was spinning.... All the noise from the different bands and crowds was making my heart race. I had taken a nap earlier....but we did a lot today. My brain was fried from too much input all day. When I closed my eyes to go to sleep I had that falling sensation again, making me scared to close my eyes......soooo, I was awake till after 1:00 a.m. again...


It is now the day after Queen's Day and I was just reading an entry in the Haarlem Weekblad. Apparently there was a young man beaten in the Grote Markt last night around 1835 hrs. I'm glad we had decided to stay away from that area!  Too many intoxicated people usually equals trouble!

I woke up after only 5 hours of sleep and now I'm paying the  price. I had to go out to get a few things at the market and found that it was very difficult to get around because my head was just spinning. Next time I am going to do something that involves a lot of noise, crowds, walking, etc...I will have to plan to do nothing the next day!  I tried to take a nap, but can't sleep.