A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Having read the title this probably won’t be the post you’re expecting it to be. A couple of days ago Leiden saw one of the biggest parties thrown annually in the Netherlands. Leiden’s Ontzet celebrates the liberation of Leiden from the Spanish siege between 1573 and 1574 every third of October. For two nights the streets are filled with people, bars are set up throughout the town, people scream on the fun fair rides set up in the Beestenmarkt and a concert rumbles in the centre of town. Everyone celebrates, well, this year, everyone except me that is.
Last year I had a fantastic time at the Ontzet. During the day I met up with my new friends and we went to watch the parade. The streets were absolutely crammed with people but we managed to get a spot sitting on some bikes against the railings of a bridge. The parade was comprised of local community organisations showing what they were made of in bright colours, loud noises and some, erm, interesting dancing.
After that we moved on to the fun fair where, after quite a few tasty beverages from the multitudinous drinks vans, we rode some of the rides, ignoring the queasy feelings produced by an unwise mixture of alcohol and zero gravity drops. Thereafter I don’t remember what we did but I have a hazy certainty that it was marvellous and almost certainly involved a few more of those tasty beverages.
So where was I this year? Hiding in Voorschoten. Since last year I have moved to a great place in the centre of town. However, I now live right next to a bar, actually, a very popular one indeed. Normally this is great but the entire length of my small street was soon to become one giant bar with a live band at one end.
Ah yes, this may sound great to you, but what it actually meant was that once out of my house I would have great difficulty getting back in, battling through drunks and wading knee high in trash. Furthermore, some days before, everyone in the street discovered notes tacked to their bikes saying (yes, this is inaccurate paraphrased Dutch); ‘If you choose to park your bike in this street drunk people will find it hilarious to trample and then vomit and urinate on them. If you’re lucky it may still function as a bike the next day, but you won’t want to ride it.’
Even more interesting, at the end of the street were set up the obligatory men’s urinals. If you don’t see men urinating into canals and these strange open urinals during a big event then you aren’t in Holland.
That said, I made my escape to Voorschoten. I hope everybody else had a fantastic Leiden Day!