Yesterday was Queen's Day, and although the weather held up and people came out to celebrate, the tragedy that struck in Apeldoorn reverberated throughout the entire country. The day began with me waking up at 6:30am, like a little child on Christmas morning, too excited to sleep. I wanted to know what was going on outside our front window. Were people selling things? Was everyone wearing orange? I ran to check, only to find the street empty. In fact, our street remained empty the entire day, except for a few random people making their way from one concert venue to another.
At 8:00am I had to get up and explore the city. Leaving Gabriel sleeping, I headed to the Sarphati Park area to hit the sales. Queen's Day is the only day of the year when people in the Netherlands are freely allowed to sell their stuff on the street. I was in need of some furniture for the apartment, and I didn't feel like furnishing everything from IKEA. I like the look of antiques mixed with contemporary pieces. I scored a beautiful hard-wood circular bedside table for only 5 euros, and a huge square basket to place our blankets in for only 1 euro. That pretty much filled up my hands, so I had no choice but to return home. Not before checking out the park though, which was filled with children selling their old toys and clothes, performing saxophone and violin, and selling cute cupcakes and cookies. It was such a festive atmosphere that I had to get Gabriel to come out and see it. When we headed out together, Gabriel was on the look-out for vintage video game systems (think the oldest Nintendo), and seemed to have tunnel vision. He walked with his head down, fast through the crowds, trying to get to the other side! I was laughing so hard. The whole point of going there is to browse, stop and see things, search around. He just didn't get it!
Back at home we dressed into our orange ensembles and headed into the city center. Already the streets were packed with people. Our first stop was the Museumplein, where we met with the huge crowds waiting to hear DJ Tiesto spin. I was so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people that I felt sick, so we managed to break free and got some hamburgers from an outdoor vendor. We made our way slowly through the city, to the Leidseplein (which was madness), buying suiker spin along the way. This was the start of our junk-food binge. By the end of the day, my body ached from circling the entire city at a snail's pace, eating so much junk food, and the heat of the sun and noise of the music.
My favourite part of visiting the center was seeing the crazy party boats floating down the canals. I was shocked at how every single street in the center was packed with people. When we wanted to head home 6 hours later, we decided to take the slightly longer route in order to avoid the massive amounts of people heading for the Museumplein. However, even the "out-of-the-way" parts were filled with hoards of drunk orange revelers! When we arrived home, we realized that we were sandwiched between the huge concerts at the Heinekenplein and a smaller square in the Pijp. With the windows closed, sitting in the back of our house, we could still hear the concerts as if we were right there. By the end of the day I had a massive headache from the constant techno music beating through the streets.
We relaxed for the rest of the afternoon, and it was at this time that we heard about the tragedy in Apeldoorn. During the Queen's parade through the street with the rest of the Royal Family, a black Suzuki careened through the crowd and attempted to hit their bus. In the process, it hit many innocent on-lookers and killed several people, critically wounding many others. I'm not exactly sure of the numbers, since they keep changing. I keep thinking how this was supposed to be a day of celebration and national pride, and ended up forever marred in tragedy. People who eagerly awaited the arrival of the Queen in their little home-town, dressed their children in orange, and painted their faces, are now deeply affected by either witnessing or being a part of the attacks. For a day that was supposed to stand for unity and togetherness, it turned out quite the opposite. At this time, my thoughts go out to all involved and to those who witnessed the atrocity during the parade.