Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day) in Amsterdam
Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day) must easily be the biggest party anywhere in the world. Practically all of Amsterdam dresses or accessorizes in orange, grabs a beer (or whatever intoxicant is at hand) and pours out into the streets to party. Other smaller parties go on all day in hundreds of boats of varying sizes that keep going around in the numerous canals that crisscross through the city.
Many families set up impromptu garage sales where they sell all sorts of things from old books, LPs, CDs to toys, clothes, boots, crockery, jewellery and household appliances.
We even had a brush with evangelists (perhaps they were hoping that drinks will somehow make people more receptive to Jesus and friends), and charity workers raising money for children in Guatemala (pay 1€, climb on this overturned crate of Heineken beer and we’ll loudly cheer for you - given the cause, I gladly parted with a €). And oh, Kate and William were here too.
We had stepped out without a map or a plan so we just kept walking with the crowd and found ourselves at Dam Square. A fair was on here with food stalls (selling food that’d supply your Recommended Yearly Allowance of cholesterol) and joy rides. I always have an appetite for the former but never the stomach for the latter. Being hurled around in random directions in dodgily assembled contraptions till the centrifugal force tries to force your brain out from your nose brings me no joy.
For a lot of people there though this seemed like a perfect way to spend a pleasant, sunny afternoon.
I’ve never quite seen revelry at this scale. The most remarkable part about today for me was that despite so much public drinking, people more or less conducted themselves rather admirably. Perhaps Holi in some parts of North India will come close (if you are willing to overlook the bit about people conducting themselves civilly).