Thursday, May 1, 2008

Queen’s Day

Every April 30th, the Dutch let loose to celebrate the Queen’s birthday by putting on the world’s biggest yard sale with lots & lots of alcohol! On this day it is a sea of orange in the streets and on the canals. The national colors are red, white, and blue (sound familiar?) but orange is the royal family’s last name so the patriotic color. The population of the city, which is around 1 million normally, swells to double that for this celebration. There are live bands, beer gardens, food stalls, parties on boats, and virtually every resident of the city outside their homes selling their old junk. My neighborhood is in the heart of a lot of the fun, so I actually had to navigate a path out of my front door as some from the neighborhood has staked out my front door as their selling location!
After a BBQ at Steven’s house, we walked around to take in the atmosphere. It was cute to see the things kids set up for money – posing for pictures, lemonade stands, break dancing, a brother & sister treating other little kids to a fishing game. Adults also came up with other things to do like my personal favorite of the day, an older couple in traditional Dutch wear…wooden shoes and all...playing the accordion. As the day wore on, the people got drunker and way more funny. We stopped at a bar, called Café Zool that had a DJ outside mixing up anything from Bob Marley to Justin Timberlake. It was hilarious watching all the dance moves on display in the street. I was highly annoyed when our entertainment was cut off at 10pm, but I guess the residents have to sleep even on Queen's Day.
The day was a whole lot of fun and the best part is that May 1st is European Labor Day so another day off work -- aka recuperation! I do have to say that all the litter and streams of urine – yep, urine – trickling down from the pee stations was really disgusting. I’m glad I was here to enjoy this major party holiday!

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