St Patrick’s Day is a big deal back home, be it seeing a parade or just going out with your friends, you have to do something to mark the occasion.
Even though I was in The Netherlands for the day itself, I still wanted to celebrate. Myself and some friends had been wanting to go to the Hague and when I looked to see if there was anything going on there that weekend, turned out there would be a St. Patrick’s Day festival in the city!
So last weekend we got on a train and went to the Hague, the home of the Dutch Parliament and the Royal Family.
Of course once we got there, our first stop was coffee!
We found a lovely café called Hometown Coffee & More.
The friends who came with me (two French and one Canadian) had never properly celebrated St Patrick’s Day, so they were just as enthusiastically excited as me. Since we were lacking in green, we found a dress up shop and streaked our faces with green sparkles and orange face paint.
We split up to do separate activities (shopping vs. museum visiting). The one and only aim I had while planning the trip to The Hague was to go to the Mauritshuis to see the “Girl With the Peal Earring“. The module Art History, which I’m taking while on Erasmus, has re sparked my love of art and the thought of seeing such as iconic painting in real life was always going to be top of my list. It didn’t disappoint and it was incredible to see the cracks of the paint and to examine the change over of light and dark, something you can’t get when looking at a photo of a painting.
My friend and I got a few fair few looks from people in the museum, what with us wearing sparkly green paint. Some security guards were inquisitive but were lovely once they found out it was St. Patrick’s Day, while others followed us around the rooms (you know in case we did the ultimate Irish heist).
The museum itself was of course dazzling and if you’re visiting the Hague, I would highly recommend it.
After rejoining up as a group, next on our agenda was the beach. The weather wasn’t ideal but we had heard so much about The Hague’s seaside, we all wanted to check it out. We took a tram from the city centre for about twenty minutes to Scheveningen Beach, which reminded me a lot of Brighton’s seaside.
Even though it was freezing, it was probably one of my favourite parts of the day. At this stage, you probably know the obsession I have with the sea, so you can imagine just how happy I was to breathe in the salty air. We all agreed that we would come back during the summer, when it would be warmer, to go on the Ferris Wheel and maybe stick our toes into the sea.
By the time was got back into the city it was late in the evening. We headed to the Grote Market, where the celebrations were taking place.
By this stage the festival was in full swing, the pubs were overflowing and there was Irish dancers performing on the stage. It was very Irish and I was in love. Dancing in the crowd, two strangers helped us get to the front and we spent the rest of the night by the stage making terrible attempts at Irish dancing, singing along to songs and just enjoying ourselves in general.
At one point they played Amhrán Na bhFiann (the national anthem) and I thought my heart was going to burst. I don’t know what it is, but place and Irish person somewhere abroad and we get insanely patriotic.
At the end of the night, we got the late train home which took an hour longer than normal because there was more stops. Finally, once we were back in Utrecht, we had to cycle back to our accommodation and by the end of the night it’s safe to say we were all truly exhausted. But honestly it was one of the best St Patrick’s Day I’ve ever had.
Did you celebrate the day?