Wednesday, May 9, 2012

God Save the Queen!!!!!

Hey all,

Sorry this is late going out, but things have been a bit hectic.  The life we've chosen to live is wonderful, but fraught with distractions and fires you have to put out.

Today's blog is, as I promised last week, about Queen's Day.  What is Queen's Day you ask?  Here is the snippet from Wikipedia.  It says it better than I ever could...

Koninginnedag or Queen's Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands. Celebrated on 30 April (the 29th if the 30th falls on a Sunday), Koninginnedag is Queen Beatrix's official celebration day. Though Queen Beatrix was born on 31 January, the holiday is observed on 30 April as it was the birthday of her mother and predecessor, Juliana.  Many of the traditional activities are held outside, and observing the holiday in April makes suitable weather more likely.

Koninginnedag is known for its nationwide vrijmarkt ("free market" or flea market), at which many Dutch sell their secondhand items. It is also an opportunity for "orange madness" or oranjegekte, for the national colour, when the normally straight-laced Dutch let down their hair, often dyed orange for the occasion.

What they don't say is the Dutch also drink, party and get generally crazy during the day and the preceding night, which is called Koninginnenacht.  

We were lucky enough to be here in Amsterdam for this day, which is a little like Mardi Gras in the USA.  It has costumes, drinking, lots of great music AND a parade.  Except this one has boats that float down the canals.  ALL DAY LONG.

It was a blast.  We spent the day wandering from place to place, listening to music, checking out the free markets, laughing at the costumes some people came up with and of course, having a few drinks.  But my all time favorite activity was the boat parade.  Jonathon and I found a great place right on the canal, had a glass of wine and just sat for several hours watching all the boats go by.

The boat parade is really nothing more than an excuse for a bunch of people to get on a boat (rented in a lot of cases) and spend the afternoon drinking with friends.  And it was a hoot to watch them.  You could tell the ones who'd never steered a watercraft before, they were scary.  Add a few drinks to the mix and it could be a disaster.  

We did see a few traffic jams, but everyone was friendly and happy with life, so there were no real emergencies where we were.  (Though I did read later a boat sank when too many people crowded to the bow.)

Some boats were themed, others were just party boats, but everyone was out to have a great time, and as far as we could see, they succeeded.  I know we had a wonderful day!

Here's a few pics of what we saw. Click on the pic to make bigger.  And enjoy!

A carnival sat in front of the Royal Palace in Dam Square.  Rides, a great Haunted House, food and games of all kinds.  It was like being a kid again!

Queen's Night street party.  Music, dance and a hundred thousand of your closest friends.  We were surprised that most of the music was western and in English.

A Free Market where everyone in Amsterdam puts out the things they want to get rid of.  The sale starts early in the morning and goes all day long.  They even have one of the parks set up only for kid sellers.  They sold toys, drinks, treats, played games and even danced and sang.  Amazing.

At the Museumplein, everyone was having a great time.  We listened to music, ate ice cream and some intrepid orange wearing souls even waded a bit.

Remember those boat traffic jams I mentioned?  Here's one of them.  We were sitting across from the Hard Rock Cafe near one of the bridges, and it was a tight fit.  Add a few extra boats and it became a near impossible one!!!

As I mentioned, some of the boats were themed.  This one, created by one of the local gay groups, was called The Prison Barge.  They wore costumes, balls and chains and smiles.  It was great!

One final boat picture.  Can you guess what this guy is doing behind the curtain?  If you said peeing, you'd be right.  Creative and hilarious, I guess they had to find a way somehow.  After all, they were on the boats all day long and no one wanted to stop for a pee break.  Easier for the men than the women, another one I saw was a circular shower curtain you wore to do your business.  Not sure I could, but after a few beers, I guess you'll do anything for relief, LOL.

A sea of orange at one of the venues playing music.  You couldn't even move, things were so crazy and packed with people.  It was fun, but we could only handle so much!

And finally, a the drinking part.  *smile*  It was a wonderful day, and if anyone ever has a chance to enjoy Queen's Day themselves I highly recommend it.  Wander, observe, laugh and sing.  I'm not an orange fan, but I have to tell you, on Queen's Day, it was a beautiful thing!

I'll see you on Friday where the lighter side takes a quick trip down memory lane!

Hugs to all,

CJ England


Ray said...

And a good time was had by all.

The Queen looks like she is having a ball.

Diamond said... nice to read about the Queen and her day...

Long live the Queen.

CJ England said...

From what I've heard, Ray, she's a very pro-active lady. In all the pics I've seen of her she is smiling and thoroughly enjoying herself.

CJ England said...

Glad you liked the blog, Diamond. It was a great day.