The Sound of Utrecht’s Domtoren

Lampen
Today is Hemelvaart (Ascension Day) and a holiday here in the Netherlands. One of traditions (although I’m not sure how widespread/popular) is to head out early in the morning for a walk or bike ride. I woke up relatively early this morning and decided to follow the tradition and go for a walk around town. The weather was gorgeous and the city was peaceful and fairly empty, except for joggers and dog walkers, so it was a perfect time to wander. I’ve got a ton of photos, which I’m sure I’ll be posting, especially on days when words fail me.

Words kind of failed me this morning, from the sheer beauty of the city I live in. I had been walking along the Nieuwegracht, heading to the Domplein, when the bells of the Domtoren began to ring. I LOVE the sound and in that setting along the tree-lined canal, it was a perfect moment. As I left the Nieuwegracht and began to walk down Achter de Dom, the small street behind the cathedral, it all just got even better. With the cathedral rising up at the end of the street, the crenelated castle-like roof of one of the buildings on the left, the picturesque row of black Pyke Koch lamps, the blue sky, and the wonderful sound of the bells echoing and reverberating in the street, I really was in awe of getting to experience moments like this on a surprisingly regular basis. Life is good!
Achter De Dom

Since no one else was around, I filmed a bit of the experience to share, to give you a hint of what it’s like. Sadly, my camera can’t begin to capture the full experience. Still, I hope you get a sense of it all.

Domtoren

A Queen’s Day Pause

Bea Bedankt
Every year — for as we’ve been here, anyway — this historic building/store on the Oudegracht hangs a photo of Queen Beatrix every Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day). Somehow, I’ve always missed getting a photo of the picture until this year. It’s a good thing I got it this year, since it’s the last year Beatrix’s photo will be on display.

Today is the last full day she’ll be queen. Tomorrow morning, she officially abdicates and her eldest son, Prince Willem-Alexander will become king. From then on, I assume the building will hang a photo of King Willem for King’s Day. And yes, there will be a King’s Day in the future. The republican/anti-monarchy groups seem relatively small and low key — I only saw one anti-monarchy sign at the Vrede van Utrecht celebration the other week — but I think the group would grow if we no longer had Queen’s Day or King’s Day, a national holiday.

Queen’s Day is tomorrow, but it begins this evening (Koninginnenacht). The vrijmarkt opens in the afternoon and will be followed by a variety of bands playing at podiums throughout the city. The vrijmarkt — held in cities across the country — is essentially a massive yard sale. A large chunk of the northern part of town is designated for people to set out their wares/cast-offs for sale.

Usually on the actual Queen’s Day, the royal family goes to a different city/region each year and takes part in special festivities. As well as walking through the city/town and shaking hands and waving, they usually take part in various games and watch special performances put on by local groups. It’s kind of nice seeing them all getting involved and having fun, riding small ziplines and tossing toilets.

This year, however, the family will be in Amsterdam where the queen will officially abdicate at 10 a.m. at the Royal Palace. Willem-Alexander will go through the official swearing in and investiture at the Nieuwe Kerk at 2 p.m. The process is a little different than the British monarchy. You can read more about it in an interesting article here, which gives a bit more about the roles of the Dutch monarchy and info about the background of the family.

The events will be televised, of course, but if you don’t want to stay home and watch, you can engage in a bit of gezelligheid and join crowds at locations throughout Utrecht (and other cities) to watch on big screens that have been set up. Here in Utrecht, they will be at Neude, Janskerkhof, and the Stadhuisplein.

NOS will be broadcasting and including live streams, I think, for those outside the country who also want to watch. For the full schedule of the events, the royal website has a fairly detailed listing of who is in attendance and when various events will take place. For a listing of the numerous activities going on here in Utrecht, De Utrechtse Internet Courant has a good writeup.

There will, of course, be orange everywhere. I’m already wearing my new orange T-shirt. Hats, inflatable crowns, orange clothing of all sorts will be out in full force. Sometimes I think the sheer volume of orange on Queen’s Day could possibly even be seen from space as a faint orange hue.

Hopefully all goes smoothly tomorrow and everyone has a good time. It will be the first time since 1890 that the Netherland’s has had a king. Of course, Willem-Alexander and his wife Maxima have three daughters, so Queen’s Day is just taking a short break and will be back with the next generation.

Royals and Trajectum Lumen

Koninginnedag, Take Three

Tulip Burnout
Happy Koninginnedag! Queen’s Day is upon us once again, and so far this one, our third, looks to be excellent. Fine weather, no hangover, no tragedy … The music has started back up already, and will probably go all day. It started last night and ran until after 1 a.m. Last night’s performances included a country/rockabilly group, who also did a reggae song called “I’m Allergic to Ganja”, which they amusingly/weirdly pronounced ganya. I know that’s the Dutch pronunciation of -ja, but the song was in English, so I was expecting the English pronunciation. It made me laugh, anyway. There were also a band doing ’80s hits. They ended, not surprisingly, with Golden Earring’s “Twilight Zone”. For those not aware, Golden Earring is a Dutch band.

Anyway, we’re off to wander around and check out what’s being offered at the Vrijmarkt, an open flea market of sorts that is going on all across the country. I got some nice mugs and a royal tin the first year. If nothing else, it will be a slight break from all the music. We’ve just been serenaded by a band doing Dutch country of sorts. We’ve heard variations of “Jolene” and now I think they’re doing a version of “Islands in the Stream”. It’s interesting.
Flying Dutch Flag