Day 4 – Queens Day

[ 2 ] May 6, 2011 |

What happens when a quarter of the youth population of a country descend on the capital city…Queen’s Day.  On the last Saturday of April every year, around half a million Dutch residents from all over the country descend on Amsterdam whose metro area only houses around a million people on a normal day.  The only analogy that comes even close is NY’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve multiplied by a factor of ten.  It is sheer bedlam with house music blasting from every corner of the city.  Donning your most creative outfit in the national color blaze orange is a must.  I managed to snag some pretty svelte orange 80’s glasses.  The two men in blaze orange Catholic Priest outfits complete with orange rosaries won my vote for most creative.


We started out our day by simply wondering around for an few hours to take in the scene and spectate.  After a we got our fill of boats literally filled to the brim of people creating their own private dance parties riding up and down the canals, we decided to take some reprieve from the crowds and take in some culture at the world renown Rijksmuseum. Unfortunately for us, it’s undergoing an extensive renovation which is encompassing about three quarters of their traditional exhibition space. None the less they were kind enough to keep their most popular exhibits open to the public. Rembrandt and Vermeer certainly received the most attention. Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” and Vermeer’s “Milkmaid” certainly stole the show as they should.  Nothing can replace seeing these Golden Age masterpieces in person. The sheer scale of The Night Watch (LINK) and perfect shadowing and composition of the The Milkmaid (LINK) made the visit worth it.  I was surprised by my own attraction to the still life’s by the old Dutch Masters in the Rijk’s collection.  I think I stared at the orange peel in Willem Kalf’s “Still Life with Jug” for at least 15 minutes (LINK).  Alison should get a medal for her patience.

After our visit to the Rijk’s, we decided to brave a trip through the adjacent Museumplien. Bold move indeed.  After 45 minutes of “bumper to bumper” maneuvering we managed to come out the other side a little spent and with this video capturing the moment in full swing…

Click Here for a Video of Queens Day 2011

After our museumplien experience we fled to calmer waters and took a stroll over to Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s largest and most visited public park. After some amazing ham and cheese croissants from a local bakery we decided it was time to make our way back to museumplien one last time to visit the Van Gogh museum.  The Van Gogh was as amazing as I remembered it 9 years ago.  Getting to experience in person the depth and vivid color of his paintings is truly something.  I found a new favorite piece as well.  It was a piece called “Almond Blossom” (LINK) and was given to his brother Theo in honor of Theo’s new baby boy and Vincent’s nephew.  Theo hung the painting above his mantle until it was ultimately donated to the Musuem’s collection.

On our way out we were able to snap a few birds eye pics of the museumplien madness.

QD Birdseye 1

QD Birdseye 2

By this point our Dutch culture quotient was just about tipping the scale so we headed back to the metro…not without a quick Dutch snack first of course.  Enter poffertjes – just the though of them makes my mouth water. These half dollar sized pancakes are not your mother’s pancakes (no offense mom). These have the unique ability to be both strangely fluffy with a perfect balance of sweetness, yum.  A must have for any Dutch experience.




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Category: Blog, Destinations, Featured Posts, Netherlands, Pat's Blog

Comments (2)

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  1. Andrew Daugherty says:

    Hey, guys! I’m just now catching up on your excellent adventures, and I am having so much fun reading your posts and seeing your pics. Pat, love those svelte orange spectacles, brilliant. And, the Almond Blossom painting story is beautiful, especially considering Van Gogh’s own darkness to paint a piece so full of hope.
    Love and prayers from Charlotte, NC, USA.

  2. Andrew Daugherty says:

    Hey, you two! I’ve spent the morning catching up on your posts and pictures. It is so much fun hearing about your excellent adventures already, brilliant. And Pat, indeed those are some sweet, svelte spectacles. The Almond Blossom painting and the story behind it are beautiful. Given Vincent’s own darkness, it’s especially poignant that he painted something so full of hope. Love and prayers from Charlotte, NC, USA!

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