Saturday, 17 May 2014

Groningen Life: Waving to the King

It rained for a week. A week. The kind of rain that woke me up at three am from pounding on the roof of the attic room. Being able to forgo the bicycle and walk everywhere, I didn't mind. I'm becoming quite adept at using an umbrella in fact. After this week of rain, it left us feeling cool and refreshed, and we are now enjoying the beginnings of summer. The attic room is sweltering.

I'm not complaining, please believe me. I love that the weather can be contrary. I like that it thumbs its nose at us and does what it likes. A sort of free spirit than can never be tamed, the weather. Today, I officially declared summertime by rolling up my trousers, putting on my Chacos for the first time this year, and going into town for an ice cream.

Currently, there is a kermis or fair/carnival going on in town. It's been here for a week and I'm rather hoping it will shove off soon. When the wind is in the wrong direction I hear people screaming and loud bass music for hours on end from the fair rides.

Vismarkt kermis
Both the Grote Markt and the Vismarkt are inenundated with fair rides and it crossed my mind that dodgy rides and a week of rain isn't the best combination. Mind you, you couldn't pay me to ride those contraptions. Not for all the tea in China would I get on one. Not even the cute, kiddie trains - nope, not happening. I usually end up holding the bags and waiting patiently at the bottom for everyone else. (I did this once at Luna Park in Sydney, Australia for an entire evening. It was most pleasant - I came away with my hair intact and my bowels where I left them...)

I do, however, quite like kermis food! The famous Oliebollen have made their appearance again, so naturally I've already bought half a dozen. There are also currywurst stalls, American bbq and hamburgers stands, Spanish churros, candy floss, sweets, ice cream - you name it.

I went down to the kermis today to have an ice cream (and if I'm being honest, a few oliebollen) and to soak up the sun. It was wonderful to bake a bit and watch the world go by. I brought only myself and a few euros - no phone, no distractions. It really is lovely at times just to be. To feel energised by the sun and feel peace around you. People watching is always a most amusing past time anyway. There are some places you can really get away with it: parks or town squares, airports, and on trains. I hope I'm not making it sound creepy, but it is just nice to see other people enjoying themselves (or not, as the case may be). Human nature is fascinating.

Anyway, the big news of the week actually is: I got to see the King! Koning Willem-Alexander himself! He came to officially open the commemoration of 400 years of the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.

King Willem-Alexander (middle)
I must say I was fairly chuffed. It's not the first time I've seen royalty, but this somehow brings me a bit closer to my new country. It's so relaxed here too - a few policeman and public ordinance officers, and that was it! I went to a political rally once in the States and they had snipers, armed military, sniffer dogs, etc. Anyway, I really enjoyed waving to the King, and Groningen will now be in a state of "party, party, party" for the month long commemoration. And boy, do the Dutch know how to party!

Life is good here in the (sunny) Netherlands!

(An article with yours truly [me] was released this week from the folks over at ExpatBlogs - have a look here.)