Jazz Day 2014, Brussels

International Jazz Day 2014

When we arrived to Brussels on the 29th of April we had no idea what we would do while here aside from visit some museums, eat and drink some local produce and walk around the city (our general approach to any city). Sitting at the computer we soon discovered that April 30 was the 3rd UNESCO International Jazz Day and that there would be some free events in Brussels to celebrate.

UNESCO states on their website “This day is destined to raise awareness in the international community regarding jazz’s virtues as an educational tool, as a vehicle for peace, unity, dialogue, and for enhanced cooperation between peoples”. It also features a message from Irena Bokova, Director General UNESCO, “The history of jazz tells of the power of music to bring together artists from different cultures and backgrounds, as a driver of integration and mutual respect.”

Markt Square, Brussels, Belgium

We saw a group of musicians perform in the Grand Place at the heart of Brussels then in a park in the suburbs called Place Saint-Job. To get to the second performance we ended up hitching a ride with three of the musicians, which highlights a little of Jazz’s generosity of spirit. Both groups of musicians provided some wonderful jazz for the sunny afternoon. I’ve included a video below of a few of the performances. I hope you enjoy.


Other articles in Belgium:

Brussels, Belgium Part 1

Brussels, Belgium Part 2

Brussels, Belgium Part 3



Koningsdag 2014

Koningsdag, Katwijk Aan See, NetherlandsWhen we came to the Netherlands for 5 days of camping we knew it was going to be a 3 day weekend. What we didn’t know is that the Saturday was Koningsdag, the King’s birthday. The previous night at a restaurant they let us know that they wouldn’t be open on Saturday as everyone in Holland would be wearing Orange (the national colour) or variations of the colours of the flag (Blue, White or Red) and probably getting drunk.

We woke around 7am to the vigorous chiming of church bells for 30 minutes followed shortly thereafter by a marching band. We made our way out of the campground into the streets to find cyclists galore riding into Katwijk Aan See. We headed into the town down a flag laden street to the small mall which was filled with people flowing past stalls of toys and other second hand items, staffed mostly by children.  The street sale stretched around the corner and into the distance down two other streets.

Koningsdag, Katwijk Aan See, NetherlandsWe followed one toward the beach where we came across another crowd and distorted commentary regarding a race of some kind. We stopped a while and ate breakfast and within twenty minutes discovered it was a fun run with a few hundred competitors.

We walked back in to the street market and followed the other road. The market soon became a craft fair stretching into the distance. Having had too much of the jostling crowd we again made our way toward the beach where we came across a football match being played in a car park. The fire department had covered the car park in foam and were arming the goalies for the five aside match with fire hoses. What followed was one of the best football (spuitball) matches I have seen with a team dressed in animal onesies going at it with another team. The goalies used the fire hoses to intercept the ball a few times but mostly aimed it squarely at the players, seemingly not caring whose team they hit, and soaked everyone. There were two more games after that before we wandered away for some lunch.

Sputball, Koningsdag, Katwijk Aan See, Netherlands

In the late afternoon we returned to the town to drink our way along the beach and proceeded through six different bars, enjoying a different flavour of beer at each (Netherland and Belgium beers). At each one we asked what else was happening in the town, to which we received a variety of responses. We were told there would be fireworks at 9, 10 or 11pm. We were told there would be live music somewhere. We were told also that nothing else would happen aside from copious amounts of drinking.

Koningsdag, Katwijk Aan See, NetherlandsKoningsdag, Katwijk Aan See, Netherlands

After the sixth bar we crossed the boulevard back into town and found a small street party with live music. Sadly the crowd were far drunker than we were and the music bad 70’s and 80’s covers like Tina Turner, so we moved on. We took another beer nearby before returning to the beach for sunset. We then headed back toward our campground and found music being played in a tent in the sailing club’s carpark. Rather than pay, we sat in the car park for free. Around 10:30 though the sky erupted with a fireworks display that was quite impressive for such a small town.

Koningsdag was a great deal of fun and far better that the Queen’s Birthday in Australia. Maybe it’s the weather that makes the difference, it currently being spring and the Queen’s Birthday in Adelaide being in winter. Either way, what an excellent day.

Koningsdag, Katwijk Aan See, Netherlands


A day at the Keukenhof

Keukenhof, Lisse, Holland

The Keukenhof is a 32 hectare garden in Lisse, Holland that only opens for two months of the year. It is often quoted as being ‘The most beautiful spring garden in the world’, and it shows.

We spent 6 hours wandering through the garden and delighting in the constant beauty and incredible variety of tulips. The brochure says there are over a thousand varieties of tulip as well as varieties of narcissus and hyacinth. It is easy to believe these claims as we wandered the many paths we never tired of tulips as there seemed always to be a new flower in bloom.

Keukenhof, Lisse, HollandKeukenhof, Lisse, HollandKeukenhof, Lisse, Holland

The Keukenhof is remade every year with 7 million bulbs by a team of 30 craftsman over two to three months working from the plan of single designer. The bulbs are supplied by local producers and is an excellent advertisement for their wares. Dutch artists also provide new sculptures each year that are distributed throughout the garden and available for sale.

Each plot is painstakingly planted with layers of bulbs that flower at differing times throughout the season, enabling the garden to stay in bloom. We took a tour around the park and our guide pointed out beautiful beds of yellow that were purple two weeks previous. The entire garden is alive and in transition, colour fading from one plot while it erupts directly opposite.

The garden is not only the three types of flower I listed but includes hundreds of other varieties of plants interspersed adding depth and contrast. There is an avenue of Beech trees, a Japanese garden, permanent forested areas, and other plants throughout. It was in one of these areas that we came across rhododendrons in bloom.


Keukenhof, Lisse, HollandKeukenhof, Lisse, Holland

The Keukenhof also has a number of pavilions highlighting the plants, their history, as well as flower arranging demonstrations, a petting zoo and a children’s playground. There are plenty of places to eat and drink although it is costly and you could bring your own and picnic.

When people think of Holland, they often think of Tulips, and the Keukenhof is the pride of this image displaying in incredible detail the wonder and variety of this plant, as well as garden architecture. It was an incredible place to visit, and if I ever return to Holland I will probably do so again.

Keukenhof, Lisse, Holland


Other Netherlands Articles:




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