Vierdaagse (Four day walk)

Every year at this time Nijmegen hosts its biggest event on the years calendar. Much like the Tour de France but on foot, in Nijmegen, and only for four days.

People flock here from all over the world to join in for the week of walking and parties with over 42,000 people participating in the walking and everyone else joining in on the fun.

Everyone can join in with people as young as 12 and as old as 90 walking 40kms every day for 4 days in a row. If you want there is even a 50km/day walk. This year 63 counties were represented including New Zealand. Some Dutchies do it every year as a sort of holiday with the record being 66 times (that's over 10,000kms which is like walking half way to New Zealand in 264 days).

Every day there is a different walk each taking a different route out of the city and back in later in the day. The streets are lined with seating and some people even reserve spots early by padlocking their couches and chairs to trees in the days before.

So many people gather that the government asks for people to billet some of the visitors, farmers turn their paddocks into makeshift camp sites complete with blow up swimming pools.

I was last in Nijmegen a couple of years ago when Nijmegen turned 2000 years old and hosted the Vierdaagse. It was just as mad.

This year we joined some friends for a BBQ across the other side of the Waal looking back at Nijmegen and watching the fireworks.

 

Prague (Praag, Praha), Czech Republic

I've been wanting to visit Prague for a long time ever since I first saw pictures of the Gothic city covered in snow in winter. Well it wasn't winter but the city is just as spectacular and a lot more vibrant that I had imagined.


It is one of the nicest cities I have been too with beautiful buildings, castles, churches, culture and history. Prague is real mixture of all the architecture styles from Gothic, Renaissance and all the other styles I know nothing about. It is spit down the middle by the river Vltava/Moldau and high up on the hill is Prague Castle, housing its own cathedral which is one of over 250 churches in the city.

Our first excursion was to the Terezin not your usual holiday spot. The town was turned into a Jewish Ghetto/Concentration Camp and nearby prison fortress close to the German border. No one was gassed at Terezin but the conditions were pretty harsh with the Jewish leaders deciding the fate of the citizens as the trains left bound for Auschwitz. Built in 1780, the small fortress was used for political prisoners with huge numbers of people per cell and it was actually home to Gavrillo Princip after he assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand starting WWI.

It wasn't all doom and gloom however as we also enjoyed some of Prague's culture. Classical concerts were everywhere so we picked a suitable selection of music and popped along to a string quartet performance in an old church. The acoustics and music were truly wonderful and left us wondering where the rest of the orchestra was and if everyone in Prague is that talented.

Prague is also home to black light theatres. We booked in and saw a silent comedy/magic/illusion show about a magic box which was a gateway to another world (the black light bit). It was all very entertaining.

We were very lucky to be in Prague at this particular weekend as the city was celebrating the 650th birthday of the Charles bridge. Everyone was in medieval dress putting on shows around the city, birds of prey, wenches dancing to musicians on a wagon and people wheeling canons around for other shows (Not to mention the all night parties).

A weekend is far too short to spend in Prague so we'll be back again. Oh, and for the beer lovers... the supermarket sells beer for 7.5 euro cents per bottle.

 

The Dutch Stag Night (Vrijgezellenfeest)

Corine and Hubert will be getting married on the 20th June so it is only fair they get one last night of freedom. Whilst the girls made necklaces and ate Gourmetten the boys headed out of town for an afternoon of fun and adventure.

It started with a Canadian Canoe trip down a river joining two nearby towns. We caught a ride to the start and jumped in our boats. Everyone wanted to avoid being in the same boat as Hubert just in case he was targeted so at the end only Hubert, Pascal and I were left. We finally launched our vessel after the others giving them a head start.

Slowly we caught up to the other boats and after a brief tussle managed to pass each without capsizing. Some of the bridges were so low that you have to lay down in the canoe or hit your head. Other obstacles included mini waterfalls and getting stuck in the reeds.

As we approached the last part of our journey, we stumbled across some children and educated them in river warfare. We concluded the session by indicating another three boats were following. By the time the other boats made it to the finish they were all drenched however one boat capsized themselves trying to make it under one of the bridges with Chef loosing his glasses. There was even a report of one boat being taken out of the water and walked over the bridge.

The second part of the day involved a game of Boerengolf (farmers golf). Basically the golf club is a broom stick with a clog on the end of it and the idea it to smack a Barney or Thomas the Tank Engine rubber ball around a field, trying to sink it in the holes. It is more difficult than it sounds trying to hit a light rubber ball into the wind from long grass with a clog on a stick but it is fun.

After 9 holes the light was fading so we retired to the barn to clean up, sit down to a BBQ dinner and polish off a couple of kegs of Dutch beer. That's all I remember... 

So, the bachelor parties are pretty much the same in both countries in that a good time is had by all but the activities vary somewhat.

 

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