Tuesday, April 29, 2014

King's Day in Amsterdam

There's actually a canal under all these people.

King’s Day

It used to be called Queen’s Day. That is until the queen abdicated last year which led to the accession of a king - the first one in over a century.

In Amsterdam, the celebration is two phased: in the morning, the entire city is a huge swap meet and yard sale while later in the day the day evolves into a big beer drinking, dancing and boating party. Early in the day, parks, like the beautiful Vondelpark, are taken over by families selling everything from toys, books, clothes, crepes, sandwiches and cookies, to hosting carnival style games, to selling the more upscale items of antiques, furniture and jewelry. It's the only day of the year people in the Netherlands get to sell their junk.

Spreading out the goods for sale.

Elliot trying his luck at hitting a face with a wet sponge.

Meredith and Elliot shopping.

This little tyke was trying to hammer an orange coming through the tube.

Strolling through the park.

These two kids were definitely enjoying it all.

Budding young musicians practice their skills playing their instruments while hoping to earn a few coins on the side. It’s all a family style affair and lots of fun. Apparently, it’s not celebrated all over the Netherlands, but in Amsterdam it’s one huge party, not unlike a Rio carnival sans costumes.

This young fellow is learning that it's hard to make a living playing music.

Yeah! This one too.

Orange you glad we rode the bike to King's Day?

But you gotta wear something O-R-A-N-G-E!!!  Hats, sunglasses, a dress, shirt, shoes or whatever. As long as it’s orange.

In the latter part of the afternoon, it looked more like Heineken was the big winner. We never saw so many crushed beer cans on the sidewalks. The canals were full of boats, large and small. At the Prinsengracht, where we we standing, boats were vying for a position to squeeze under the bridge. The loud, hard driving beat of music blared from nearly every boat and bar along the canal.

On the streets, bars and restaurants were packed with revelers enjoying the day with friends. To me, the most amazing thing was two-fold: with as much alcohol as was being consumed, no one appeared out of control. We saw no fights. We actually didn’t see any severely inebriated folks (though I’m sure they were around). The other point of interest was that the celebration was not at all sexually oriented. In the U.S., girls would have been enticed by guys to show their boobs - New Orleans Mardis Gras style. For sure, guys would have been armed with their beads, ready to toss at a young, gyrating lass on a boat, for a peek at her boobs.

The party is heating up in the canals.

Maritime DJ's are pumping out the music.

Looks like this guy was trying to do his impression of Elvis 

The circular netting was a make-shift potty for the girls.

On land, this was the potty for the guys.

Haute cuisine on one of the boats passing by.

Dress for success!

Probably the best (orange) suite I saw during the day.

But in this sexually liberated country, sex just doesn’t play a dominant role like it does in the Christian, up-tight setting, that is so prevalent in U.S. society. Bottom line was King’s Day was lots of fun to experience, though not something I’d long for each year. But it sure was fun to be here in Amsterdam to enjoy it.

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