April 30th in the Netherlands is a special day. Queensday, or 'Koninginnedag' if you speak Dutch. It celebrates the birthday of their Queen (although April 30 is actually the birthday of the current queen's mother). Basically, it's just a chance to have one big party. And party it was. Just Google search images of Queensday, and you'll see! I have never attended a bigger event in my whole life. Some might say it resembles Mardi Gras in New Orleans, although I'm not sure having never been to New Orleans.
I feel, however, that Queensday is not a comparison. It is not just a day that you throw around in casual conversation. You don't go, "oh yeah, I think I bought some pants on Queensday." If you were to say something about Queensday, it would probably be "OH SNAP, I HAD THE BEST QUEENSDAY EVER WEARING ORANGE PANTS." Or, maybe "Duuuddde, those pants are sooooo, ya know, orrraannnge. Duuudde." (depending on how you spent your Queensday particularly) Orange, orange everywhere! Orange cowboy hats, jerseys, T-shirts, tiaras, flags, streamers, balloons, dresses, and pants too! I bought the orange pants in preparation for Queensday, which was a pretty good choice, seeing as I would've looked pretty dumb without any orange on. It was really cool to see the streets packed with solid orange. I imagine it would be phenomenal to fly over Amsterdam on this day and just see gridlines of orange.
Remember my last post about Amsterdam? Now imagine those peaceful little canals packed with boats full of people dancing, blasting music, drinking Heineken, and throwing things at the casual observers. The streets were even more packed with all sorts of vendors selling yard-sale items, clothing, food, drinks, anything. You name it, you could find it somewhere.
And the food. Oh my, the food. Right now is where I ask you not to judge me for the amount of food consumed during this trip.... freshly squeezed orange juice, sliced apples with chocolate syrup, Poffertjes (half-dollar sized pancakes with sweet butter), Dutch fries, Kroket-a weird concoction that is basically fried gravy (it comes out of a vending machine), and flaming shots called the Harry Potter. I even had the McDonald's version of the Kroket, the McKroket, which was even better than the real thing.
|The infamous Dutch Kroket in front of its vending machine.|
|What the inside of a Kroket actually looks like.|
|"Harry Potter" shots|
|I felt pretty much like this graffiti afterwards, "Consumer"|
The absolute best part of the day was a small table set up with some housewares for sale in a residential part of town. The adults sat in lawn chairs outside conversing, drinking beer, and watching the parade-like throngs of people pass by. But there was a little sign taped to the edge of the table with an arrow pointing down and text that read "slapende kat" (or sleeping cat), and underneath, a small little kid dressed up in a cat costume, laying in a little nest of blankets pretending to sleep, occasionally peeking open their eyes to see if anyone had put a coin in the box. Right on cue, Emily and I both stop and completely melt. We'd have probably sold our souls to that adorable little cat-kid if asked, and proceeded to empty our pocket change into the box, while the parents laughed at our obvious amusement.
|Trash in the streets during the day.|
I wish I could describe the atmosphere. It was somewhere between brawling, obnoxious, pressing, and loud to laid-back, chill, easy-going, friendly, and relaxed. If someone shouted something, they did so for merely the purpose of declaring their happiness. At times, I was pressed body-to-body with people on all sides of me in the middle of a street, the constant threat of being run over by the push of people behind, and at others I lounged languidly with Emily, our legs hanging over the side of the stone canal wall, throwing our faces back to the sun, soaking up the music and smells, and atmosphere. It was just a festival which embraced all the nationalities, all the quirkiness, all the weird, mismatched, and friendly people that Amsterdam had to offer.
I wish my photos did it justice. But I didn't bring my camera along with me this time (seeing as I got my phone stolen and, praise Jesus, returned!) so I had to settle for cell pics. I won't bore you with any more details, but trust me, those orange pants were worth every penny. (Although I secretly plan on returning them if I can successfully remove the dirt stain from the leg) :)
Oh, and did I mention, I got to watch my favorite band in the whole world perform live approx. 20 feet in front of me the next day? Life was good. I couldn't ask for more blessings.