Queen’s Day in the Netherlands and the journey begins!

Queens Day & RV Camping in Europe

On April 29, 2011, Mark, Scout, Archie, and I touched down in Amsterdam to begin our year-long, kick-ass RV adventure through Europe and Turkey. I can’t believe we’ve actually done it!!!

Unfortunately we couldn’t pick up our camper for three more days, because just about the time we were landing, the dealership was locking its doors for a three-day weekend. The owner, Rene, let us know he’d be off drinking himself into oblivion for Queen’s Day.

Queen’s Day & Our First Major Travel Mistake

We’d scanned our calendar before booking our flights, but I guess we forgot to check the Netherlands’ calendar. Big, big mistake. We ended up arriving the day before Queen’s Day, the Netherlands biggest holiday. It’s like a Dutch Mardi Gras, except bigger and more orange.

Queen’s Day commemorates the birthday of Queen Beatrix. Amsterdam is packed on April 30, with around two million people cramming themselves into the city. The first we heard about it was when Rene warned us not to fly that weekend…about an hour after we bought non-changeable tickets to fly that weekend. Uh oh!

Queen’s Day, Haarlem style

After hours of scouring the internet for any available room (Queen’s Day + traveling with a dog = we were screwed), we finally found one in the nearby town of Haarlem. Haarlem is a tulip powerhouse dating from the 10th century and located about 20 km outside of Amsterdam.

It was very charming, and we were grateful to find the room, but three days there cost us more than €750…that’s about NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS. We’re don’t have piles and piles of money, so that’s quite a hit.

Haarlem turned out to be lovely, and in hindsight we were grateful not to be in the Amsterdam crush. Mark’s from New Orleans and likes all that crazy, but Scout and I don’t.

Saint Bavo Church (“The Great Church”) flanked by Queen’s Day carnival, Haarlem, the Netherlands


Orange is the color of the Dutch Royal Family and symbolizes pride in the country and in being Dutch.


“Sure, we’ll fit… ”


Adorable Dutch accosting Archie (Sun-flare note: Yes I know it’s there. On our first day in Haarlem my lens hood popped off the camera, rolled 10 metres straight into a canal, and sank like a stone. These guys were just too cute to edit, though, right? Archie might disagree.)

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 joannbc June 10, 2011 at 11:14 pm


It is great to read about your travels and adventures with a bit of history and information thrown in. Love the awesome photos you took. Marvellous.

Looking forward to your next chapter 🙂


2 Renee June 11, 2011 at 6:46 am

A comment before the blog is officially out? How lovely! Thanks. We’ve had so little internet access the past month, I’m way behind on posts, but what else is new. A couple more big overviews like this one should catch me up; then I can focus on the fascinating minutia. Scout’s growing Wurst phobia, for example.


3 elaine June 13, 2011 at 5:00 pm

OMG is right in reference to that wonderful looking fluffy apple turnover baked goodness! Leave it to me to comment about the baked good first. 🙂
Mark looks so relaxed! That’s so great to see. I love your pics Renee! This is great to be able to see where the adventure takes you guys. I love love love this blog!

miss you all,


4 Renee June 15, 2011 at 8:20 am

Thanks so much, Elaine. I hear you about the appelflap goodness. Half of my bucket list involves baked goods.


5 Jeff P June 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm

This is fantastic, Mark! Will be reading regularly and virtually enjoying your trip. And naturally, rooting for Boston against your hometown Canucks tomorrow night. Cheers to everyone.


6 Renee June 15, 2011 at 8:06 am

Hey, it’s Canon reunion day here at ramblecrunch. How goes it, Jeff? We’d love to hear from you, so yes, please do keep stopping by. No worries about Boston. The food there is so much better, it’s hard not to root for them.

Mark says hi!


7 Roger June 14, 2011 at 8:52 pm

This is great- what an adventure! I love the blog, Renee and will happily live vicariously as you go. Have a wonderful time over there!


8 Renee June 15, 2011 at 8:04 am

Roger, it’s great to hear from you! How’s everything at Canon? And with your family? Yes, we’re having an amazing time so far. Getting ready to head over to Switzerland. I want to spend a week hiking in the Bernese Oberland, but first we’ve got to figure out which, if any, mountain passes our little van can handle.

Mark sends his best!


9 Marco A. June 14, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Mark and Renee, congratulations on your new adventure! I can’t believe how much your little Scout has grown! Have a safe and memorable trip.

From Sunny CA.


10 Renee June 15, 2011 at 7:53 am

Marco! So nice to hear from you. Thanks for your good wishes. How’s your lovely family doing?


11 Clélie June 14, 2011 at 11:13 pm

And Archie has pride of place in so many of the photos. Archie is in his heaven and all’s right with the world!



12 Renee June 15, 2011 at 7:50 am

Archie’s doing a fantastic job. I wasn’t sure how traveling with him would go, but so far so great. He gives us a lot of peace of mind when we go out for the day and leave him home to guard the RV. Other days he comes with us into town, depending on what we’re doing. The only problem is little kids always want to get down in his face and stroke the cute little doggie, bless their hearts, but Archie doesn’t like being petted by non-family members. Now that we’ve started traveling, he getting really sensitive about it, so I’ve started telling the poppets no. Archie’s just a one-family kind of dog. Will post about this later.


13 Jason @Travel Junkies June 30, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Nice looking camper! I am so jealous that you guys are out there now and I am still stuck in an office cubicle. Just one more year, just one more year…

I can’t wait to read more about your adventure!


14 Renee July 3, 2011 at 11:47 am

Thanks, Jason. You’re almost there. Are you already getting rid of things? We waited too long to sell some items and ended up having to give them away when we left. I wish we’d gotten rid of everything sooner and then camped out in an empty house for a while.

You know, we’ve been on the road for two months already. It’s really flying by. Too fast.


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