Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Noordwijk and the Bloemencorso

On Saturday the weather was very nice, so Laura and I ventured to Noordwijk, a beach town near Leiden. We noticed upon arriving at Leiden Centraal, where we intended to rent bikes for the short ride to Noordwijk, that there were an unusually large number of people around. When we walked outside, we saw obscenely long lines (I'd estimate 150 yards long) snaking around the front of the station; hordes of tourists were waiting to board the bus to Keukenhof (the Dutch flower "theme park"). It seems this weekend may have been the peak of the spring tourist season, probably because of the Bloemencorso (flower parade), which I'll get back to shortly. The massive crowds had already rented all the bikes, so it was the bus to Noordwijk for us.

The sun was shining at the beach, but the cold Noordzee (North Sea) wind was also blowing hard, so our time sprawled out on towels was short lived. But the wind couldn't also stop us from visiting a beachside cafe and playing a game of Gin Rummy.

After the beach, we joined other members of my research group at my boss's home to view the yearly Bloemencorso (flower parade), which is probably what drew the hordes of tourists to the NL on this particular weekend. The parade is an all-day spectactle that starts at Noordwijk and ends in Haarlem; we saw it near the end of its run in Heemstede at about 8pm. We found the flowered floats really fantastic, but the marchers seemed to have used up all of their energy at an earlier stage of the parade.

The theme of the parade was literary classics.

Here's Nijntje (aka Miffy), the Dutch star of over a 100 children's books (which are available in 40 different languages and have sold over 80 million copies worldwide).

We have officially deemed the worldwide US influence to be completely inescapable. In London, the entire New Year's parade was American high school bands. At Keukenhof, the theme this year is New York and there was even a flower-patterned Statue of Liberty. And of course, here at the Bloemencorso, a float featured Uncle Sam and our national anthem on repeat. (Now if only they liked us this much in the Middle East.)

The Bloemencorso - a short and sweet event if there ever was one - ended at right about dusk. We thoroughly enjoyed it and the invitation to watch it in Heemstede, where we were able to enjoy funny commentary from several co-workers who professed to have seen one too many flower parades. The count of flower parades for Laura and I, on the other hand: one. (Hopefully we'll make the Rose Bowl Parade our number two...)

More pictures from the day on Flickr...

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