The 1st of May. My third and last day in Amsterdam. A friend and I went to see the Peter the Great exhibition in the Hermitage. We were both not quite sure about the set up, as we both were a bit confused about the chronology, but in the end we were both quite satisfied. The exhibition was quite interesting and we even got a chance to dress like Peter the Great! So nice they had clothes that didn’t only fit children. Bad thing is that you’re of course not allowed to photograph. But at the end of the exhibition we found a genealogy showing the family ties between the Romanovs and the Dutch Royal Family. I couldn’t resist taking a picture, as it already said “King of the Netherlands 2013-“.
We had a nice lunch on a terrace and of course found out we had missed the royals at the Royal Palace once again. All alone I went on to see the flowers in the Nieuwe Kerk (new church). Although I quickly discovered the queue was on the other side of the palace, I decided to make a few pictures on the side of the Dam Square first. Luckily the balcony – still with the lovely decoration on it – was just not covered by the trucks in front of it. And I saw a few people carrying some (royal?) foot-benches away. I decided to make a few pictures of the flower decoration at the main entrance – used by the King and Queen – first. As I want to get as close as possible I asked some people on the terrace if they would mind me making some pictures from there. Luckily not many people followed my example. And it was a good choice I think, as when I finally returned hours later, there was nothing to be seen there anymore. Big wooden screens were placed in front of the entrance.
But of course, the queue was on the other side, and it was already past 2pm, the time the church had opened. So at about 2.15pm I started queueing. The line just started at the Dam square, but just a few metres away from the side of the palace. I thought it couldn’t take that long, but time past and it was almost 4.30pm when we finally reached the end of the palace. The sun was burning on our heads, and an old man had already collapsed. Just after 4pm the police had finally come to secure the area with fences and ribbons … because we blocked all of the pavement. That also meant that finally no people could slip into the row anymore from the other side of the street. Not that it helped much. At the end the queue was at least ten people broad, and at the entrance it was again much smaller. At the time I was supposed to travel back by train to Groningen, 5.30pm, I finally reached the entrance! Three hours and about 15 minutes waiting. Not what I had expected when I started. But inside I understood part of the reason. Not only outside it was pretty badly organised. Also inside there were only two pay-desks, both with a security guy on the side. The entrance fee was 5 euros. But then I finally was inside (I wonder would it have been much quicker if I had shown my press card?)!
As I was late already anyway I took my time. To my surprise it was not that crowded inside. Lots of people simply took a seat to enjoy the church. But I walked around to make photographs, and let myself being photographed of course. Lovely flower decoration all over the place, with among others Dutch tulips, roses, amaryllis in orange and yellow colours … But of course the main attraction was the front of the church, where the platform with the “thrones” of the King and Queen was guarded by four infantry-men. They must have been photographed thousands of times during these two days the church was open. In front of the platform was the table, still with the cushions on it on which the regalia had been during the ceremony.
I visited the church on Wednesday, arriving far too late in Groningen to attend the course I was taking. But at least I have seen the decoration. On Thursday the church was open even longer. In the end more than 19.000 people had visited the church and its investiture flower decoration. The event seems to have been more organised in the end. But I can hardly imagine that they didn’t foresee that so many people would visit the church. It wasn’t the first time a building or church was opened after a wedding, funeral or investiture. And there always have been huge queues. I have been queueing myself a few times in the past years too, but never this long. I really hope that they have learnt from it.
In case you have missed it all and want more than just a few of my pictures, have a look at this beautiful 3D-overview.