Street Culture - KINGS DAY
This week, together with fellow travellers from around the world, we are discussing STREET CULTURE on #TRLT Twitter chat. When I think of “street culture” I instantly smell the delicious street food and market spices caressing the senses of both locals and tourists in Istanbul, the seemingly nonstop festivals, weddings and parties storming the streets in India, the intense African drumming and dancing creating dust clouds in the back streets of The Gambia’s capital city Banjul and the brightly splashed walls painted by talented graffiti artists in Santiago, Chile.
Street culture is made up of street food, festivals, art, music and other aspects that bring out the very essence of a culture’s makeup.
Can you picture a time when you have experienced all of the above in one single place? For me that place is The Netherlands. King’s Day (Koningsdag) to be exact. Formerly known as Queens Day (Koninginnedag) before the new King recently took reign in 2013, the Dutch holiday celebrates the King’s (and former Queens’) birthday. Celebrated on April 27th the country becomes a ginormous, orange-smeared, nationwide garage sale!
If you want to experience the fun, energetic heart of Dutch culture, then this is the day to do it on the cobblestone streets of any city, town or village in the “Low Lands”.
The streets and canals are bumper to bumper with cars, bicycles, pedestrians and boats of all shapes and sizes, stuffed sardine-can full with locals clad in orange (the proud color of the nation), bright faced and ready to “proost” (cheers) to their king. Faces are quickly buried in ice-cold Heineken beers, never without a healthy two-finger foam bubbling at the rim of their plastic cups.
Ironically the celebration which honors their royalty looks, from a tourist perspective, akin to that of a major case of spring cleaning with a country-wide garage sale. Everybody and their friends, parents, kids, babies, neighbours, cousins and pet dogs come into the streets to sell, buy and trade each other’s belongings for next to nothing. Dusting off your shelves and cleaning out the cupboards has never been more fun!
The stereotypical “penny pinching” Dutch style is highlighted as they sift through each others’ secondhand goods that line the streets. The creativity of the Dutch culture and its people also shines through as locals invent new and creative ways to earn some extra money from the crowd of orange-wearing tourists and mainly locals by singing, dancing, performing, face painting or creating fun games akin to those you’d find at a kermis. The smell of sweet stroopwafels and poffertjes will make your mouth water and the delicious aroma of french fries (with mayo of course!) and kroketten (croquettes) with mustard will have your stomach grumbling as you walk the bustling streets. The occasional whiff of marijuana is sweet, potent and most definitely intoxicating.
And the best part about this de-junking, spring cleaning festival? At the end of the day you can simply walk away from the pile of old shelf items because the city arranged clean up. They come through and sweep EVERYTHING up and chuck it. So once everyone has gone off to party, you can either join the partygoers, stay behind to sift through the piles of leftover “garbage” and pick out the last gems for free or simply watch as the trucks come in and sweep everything up; old rollerblades, children’s books, clothes, TVs, kitchen supplies and even couches!
Every tuesday we chat about a new travel topic on #TRLT. Search the hashtag #TRLT on Twitter to find us and don’t forget to include the hashtag #TRLT in your tweets to participate with fellow travellers. I am there each and every week hosting with fellow founder and friend Shane Dallas (public speaker, visited 100+ countries, currently living in Kenya) and amazing travel host, and good friend, Jessica Lipowski (accomplished author and “foodie” in USA) and host Anton Magnin (specialist in family travel in South Africa).
See you next week for a special article on ROAD TRIPS!