Viva la regina

The beginning of my "Dutchification" started today.

I arrived on an overnight flight to Belgium at 8am with zero hours of sleep logged over the past three days and about 150 pounds of baggage in tow. As a highly-efficient and professional road warrior I can survive for weeks out of a single carry-on bag, so this was really quite an embarrassment.

This trip, however, was different as I was slowly, secretly staging an international relocation. One might think that would warrant a slightly larger welcome wagon. Or at least one with a backseat. Though after seeing the thousands of bikes parked at the airport, I suppose I should consider myself lucky that it had four wheels.

As we made our way back to Utrecht, the rest of Holland was heading out for Queensday, an annual celebration of the Queen's birthday marked by the entire country dressing up in orange and drinking heavily in the streets throughout the day.

Although this is not an especially unusual occurrence here, this particular day is marked by what appears to be free license to host a garage sale anywhere one can find open street space.

You can buy pretty much anything on the streets today - and indeed I do mean anything:

furniture, glassware, random household items (some of which actually work), bicycles (perhaps even the one you "lost" last week), shoes (mostly worn), underwear (also, I believe, mostly worn), and a host of other contraband that bears a strong resemblance to the random trash left in the streets on any given Saturday night...

Our crew was gathered in "the usual spot" in front of Mick O'Connell's pub where everyone was singing along with local musician Michael Robinson.

The Girls

The Boys

The Future Fidanzato

There are few things more entertaining than listening to thousands of drunken Dutch folk belting out random American classics from Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash. Sometimes even with the correct lyrics.

My personal favorite was the crowd's resounding rendition of Hey Jude. Oy.

A good time was had by all...and I got to be Miss Holland for a day!

More importantly, it was a hall pass for an all-day pub crawl, during which I became obsessed with Bitterballen: crispy balls of savory gooeyness that explode in your mouth like mini flavor bombs.

Definitely not high-brow foodie food, I'd say they are akin to what one might imagine the love-child of a savory truffle and a hush-puppy to be.

That is, if one were the type to hypothesize about such things.

I am now on a rabid search for a recipe so I can make these tasty little suckers myself...

11/08/10 Update: Got it! Prepare for a mouthful of awesome

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