Saturday, May 1, 2010

Live-Tweeting Queen’s Day

  Well, I tried anyway.  Four things I learned from the demo: Check your link before starting, ditto for making sure the phone is charged, it’s hard to type-text from the middle of an active event, and…

Queen’s Day in Amsterdam Rocks.

Train already filled with orange teens, beer, laughter, more orange.

I picked up the 9:30 from Maastricht, surprisingly, the crowd thinned with each successive stop.  I thought we’d accrete revelers as we headed north: a friend texted “turn back while you still can!”

At AMS station – chaotic, windy, cold, and very orange, clusters of kids fanning out across the city.

DSC09634 They swirled around the down towards the Red Light District.  Lets of hats, wigs, shirts, and horns for sale, balloons above the narrow streets, rain starting to fall.  Garbage everywhere: leftover from the warm-up party?  Strangely, though, the crowds thinned along the Oudezijds Achterburgwal; evidently the party was else where (or later).

Crowds all at Dam Square: drum bands and ferris wheels.  Lots of food, but no orange beer.

More tourists than revelers, more women than men.  Boys in Holland bathrobes chugging in unison; Japanese tourists asking Dutch teens to pose with them for pictures.  I wandered over to de Krijtberg, hoping for more people along the water.  DSC09660 Absolutely the right place to go looking: A floating dance floor rounded the canal, followed by boats, barges, and more.

Sun is finally out along with the boats; people are uncovering their garage sales, nibbling delightful loempia.

The boats are the best part, multiplying by the hour.  All sizes, all shapes, all boozy, all orange. On one bridge, a girl sells water balloons to drop on them for 0.50.  Another dangles wooden shoes from a fishing pole and tries to tap people below.  Silly string is everywhere. 

DSC09721 The intersections prove tricky, as boats pile into one another .  The crowd is delighted.  A tourist cruiser is hit three times trying to pass through; he guns the engine and almost swamps one rowboat.

Now things are starting to fill up; the rock music is starting and the crowds are surging.  There’s a pot haze mingled with a prosecco vibe.

Most of the things for sale are cast-offs from families with grown children: books, toys, undersized clothes, porcelain knick-knacks.  No prices,  they might just be anxious for someone to take it away.  Restaurants are running most of the food stalls, ringing the kitchens out onto the sidewalks.

Now we’re there: the streets are filling, a concert has started on the Leidseplein.

Rembrandt Square is absolutely packed: people overflow the streets and plazas.  Somehow, they avoid the tulip beds.  They dance on top of the tram shelters; they fill windows like my favorite Gigli photo (left)

Gigli - Models in the WindowDSC09716

Time to head south, but every train is stopped into and out of AMS Centraal….

The track agent shook his head, “Kids forced the doors and ran out across the tracks.  Every train is stopped, we have to reset the whole system.  It will take at least two hours to fix.”  The only way out was the Metro (which I didn’t know was up and running) to the edge of town where trains were collecting.  DSC09809 The only glitch was that the transitions baffled my OV-card, charging me about six extra euro for the inconvenience.

A very nice party, once it gets rolling – but never did find the orange food.

or beer.

More pix on my Facebook page


Amanda said...

Sounds like you had a great time. We haven't braved Amsterdam for Queens Day yet, though I suppose it can't be scarier than Maastricht Carnival. ;)

Dave Hampton said...

I came back in time to walk through the Maastricht one a little - your pictures captured it well. It's too bad there aren't any boats here, but the music has been good.

Invader_Stu said...

It looks great. I skipped Amsterdam this year to have a quite relaxed Queen's Day but all the Amsterdam Queen's Days I have been to before have been great.

Dave Hampton said...

Stu, do you have any idea how to get onto one of the boats in future years? Is it something that people selll tickets to, or just people getting together and pusing a barge out onto the canals?

It was a lot of fun and well worth the train time.