Orange mood on King’s Day in Maastricht
Yes! Yes, I know! All the fun and all the sun on the 27th of April was in Amsterdam! Why Maastricht? For a number of reasons! First of all I have always wanted to visit this gorgeous city and since its 2,5 hours drive from Almere I needed a serious reason! King’s Day coupled with opportunity to meet my compatriots from Moldova, who organized in Maastricht a stand with Moldovan goods and a special event in the evening turned the scale in favour of going to Maastricht.
Needless to say we prepared for the King’s Day in advance, bought orange staff and prayed for a sunny and warm day. The day was warm and sunny but not in Maastricht. However, the atmosphere was still orange, the Vrijmarkt was still abundant and cheap and the inventiveness of the Dutch people still unlimited. I’ve heard that on this Day you can make money on anything. I’ve heard about people selling the “Amsterdam air” in glass bottles, about a guy taking 1 euro for throwing eggs into him, about gallons of beer drunk and tons of food consumed, I’ve heard of trains stopping because drunk people would decide that railways were a perfect place to take rest …. and I have NOT experienced it … not yet …
Koningsdag in Maastricht was way calmer, more reserved, still crowded and orange, but with an elegant touch. For example, one could practice his shooting skills throwing stones into old pottery and glass for 1 Euro per try, and there was even a queue. Some were creative enough to attract attention to their goods by singing, or playing instruments.
What I really loved, that lots of kids were selling their stuff in a very creative way, offering a candy or a drink to the buyers, selling home-made Punch. Some kiddoes were playing instruments and showing their talents . A 6 or 7 year old girl used her entrepreneurial skills and offered to polish your nails just for 50 cents.
I’ve heard of a very popular Dutch thing called Grubbel Ton. It is usually made by kids and it can be a box or a bucket filled with small toys, candies, cards and random tiny things covered with paper, styrofoam or plastic. You have to pay a symbolic sum in return to grabbing something as a take away gift. And I found one! For 10 cents I got a harmonica and became a child for a moment!
What we also enjoyed was music! It was different and it was everywhere. There were several bands playing right in the park and even an improvised choir from the University of Maastricht singing to collect funds for Peuterschool in Tanzania. A samba percussion band “Batida Mestreech “ was performing the entire day, stopping on the most vibrant streets of the city. Most of young people were streaming to the city centre for the concert of an undoubtedly popular Dutch group, which we still had no chance to discover.
King’s Day Part II. Taste of Moldova!
By the middle of the day we finally found the Moldovan table in the multitude of exposed goods. An active group of Moldovans have made Taste of Moldova – a King’s Day tradition. This is the second year they organize a stand with Moldovan delicacies and handmade items. Even though the Netherlands is one of the biggest investors into Moldovan economy, Dutch population doesn’t know much about this tiny country in eastern Europe. And Koningsdag is an awesome opportunity to do that!
The culmination of the evening was the opening of the first Moldovan Hamburgeria ever and definitely the first one in Maastricht. And if you have never had a chance to see Moldovans celebrating something, there is little I can do in describing it with words. The way Moldovans love to party is a topic for a separate article. And the reason we made 600 km that day was to feel that spirit of home we miss so much. When Moldovans party, they drink , they eat, they dance and they sing, and they also have deep conversations about life. Believe me or not, we had all of those elements in just one evening. First of all we ate a lot: Moldovan placintas, three types of hamburgers (Moldovan, classic and vegetarian), coltunas (something similar to Italian ravioli or Russian vareniki) and lots of sweets. The program included the Coltunas marathon: the foreigners present at the event were split in 2 teams and competed in making Moldovan coltunas with cottage cheese and sour cherry. We danced Moldovan Hora, we sang Moldovan songs, accompanied by the sounds of violin and we charged our batteries with the mixture of Dutch and Moldovan spirit.
P.S. In case you are planning to visit Maastricht don’t forget to stop by Hamburgeria – a warm and hospitable place with extremely delicious hamburgers to be found on Wycker Brugstraat 57.
Random pics from the Koningsdag in Maastricht