Today was a glorious Spring day, and a glorious day for the city of Rotterdam.
"Daughter-in-Law" Dianne (of the blog Dambitious) and myself met up in front of the overwhelming and awesome facade of the renovated Rotterdam Central Station (dubbed: 'the french fries bag' by Rotterdammers), to wait for the arrival of our King, Willem-Alexander.
He was late...But that's the prerogative of Kings, I suppose.
But it didn't matter, because the sun was shining and the hundreds of people waiting were in a good mood.
Take a look at the photographs below these words, and I'll tell you some more underneath.
The station has been operational all the time during the renovation, and it wasn't always fun, I can tell you! The point of entrance kept being changed, and it had the appearance of a tip sometimes, where you had to find your way between enormous puddles, and blocks of concrete, and undefinable heaps of stuff.
But: and kudos to the operators, it's been renovated on schedule and within the budget! I mean - WOW. I heard they even had 28 million Euros left over...Well, they can now donate these to the food banks of Rotterdam, right?!
The atmosphere was festive. There was music, and there were kiddies with balloons, and lots of pensioners, and tourists, and office workers, and lots and lots and lots of policemen in shirt sleeves (in The Netherlands you can judge the mood of a crowd by the fact that the police take off their jackets), and on those uber-cool Sedgeway mopeds.
Dianne and I waited behind the crowd control fences until we saw Mayor Achmed Aboutaleb arrive, and 30 minutes later King Willem-Alexander.
I need to tell you a story about Aboutaleb. He's such a cool guy! Seriously, he's of Moroccan descent, and came to Rotterdam as a kid, and now single-handedly manages to change the opinion of a lot of Rotterdammers about Moroccan kids (which isn't that rosy, to be honest) by being a great mayor and such a macho (but in a good, hunky way). This week he saw a shop being burgled, and saw the burglar flee on the street in the direction of Gerdesia tube station. He told his driver to pursue, then left his car and ran into the tube station and tackled the burglar on the platform. He got him!
By the way, the woman in the red hat isn't Queen Maxima, she's our Minister of Defence. Maxima, unfortunately, was detained elsewhere. She's a star, shining even brighter than our Willem-Alexander.
Anyway. If you ever visit Rotterdam, be sure to arrive in Centraal Station, and admire it. It's beautiful.