There’s a new recurring feature on my weblog – the Country of the month. Every month I shall publish a small review of a small European country I’ve been to, and perhaps try and identify some of the small European things it’s identified by. Frankly, its just an excuse for me to brag about all the places I’ve been to and upload some travel clicks. Anyways… This month – the Netherlands.
Today its exactly 9 years ago that I’ve moved to the Netherlands. Coincidentally, today I’ve been recalling some of the experiences I’ve had when I got here. One of the first things I had to do was to get registered with the municipality. I looked up the city hall on the map and went there. The city hall is a formidable stone building on the main square, the final result of construction over the past 10 centuries. The door was open, so I went in.
Unfortunately, I have had severe problems fulfilling the bureaucratic procedures so beloved by the governments of small European countries. The place was full of people, but no one seemed to be even remotely interested in stamping my passport. They were, however, fancilly dressed, and seemed genuinely happy to see me (another thing you don’t expect from your average small European bureaucrat). I’ve wandered around a bit, feeling totally out of place.
I didn’t speak a word of the local mumbo-jumbo, having arrived just a couple of days ago, so to me there was no way telling why was everyone so happy, how come a bulter offered me snacks and a drink and whether blacktie was the normal dresscode for cityhall employees. I got more and more confused, especially since by now my only goal was to find the way out and this was quite difficult in a building designed to confuse the invading vikings.
Eventually I’ve found my way out and went home, mission unaccomplished but greatly relieved that I’ve escaped whatever pagan ritual they were having there. Afterwards I’ve gathered that the old city hall is a ceremonial place, and the city hall proper is a boring office building elsewhere. Most probably I’ve crashed a wedding.