Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Queen's Day 2013 in Amsterdam

de Bijenkorf department store on Damsplein got in the full spirit

The new royal family waving from the balcony of the Palace in Damsplein (from wodumedia.com)

In case you didn't know, The Netherlands has a constitutional monarchy, and the Dutch love their Queens. This is most apparent on Queen's Day (Koninginnedag), April 30, the Dutch national holiday in which basically all people of the Netherlands flood Amsterdam wearing orange and paint Dutch flags on their cheeks. The entire city turns into a combination of an open air market, a dance party, and a endless procession of boats blasting techno music. But, the fun starts on Queen's Night, the night before, but you gotta be careful not to party too hard, because the next day is even better!

View of a politie mobile with the decorated de Bijenkorf in the background, Queen's Night

The palace balcony the night before the grand appearance

Close-up of the inflated crown on the roof of de Bijenkorf on Queen's Night

2013 was a very special Queen's Day because it is the last for a long time. Queen Beatrix's son Willem-Alexander ascended the throne this year (first king since 1890!), so beginning in 2014, the holiday will be known as King's Day (Koningsdag) and will be moved to April 27, Willem-Alexander's birthday.

Most of the pictures in this little section were taken either on Keizergracht or Prisengracht.

Homomonument represent! (flashing the "W" sign for Willem-Alexander)

My roommate and me

Prisengracht is the most popular canal for boating

My roommate and I went to that dance party under the clown for a while

This was my second Queen's Day and I enjoyed myself just about as much as I did in 2004 when I studied here. I sort of remembered it as drunk people flooding the streets along the canals and huge concerts in all the squares, but this year it drove home a very endearing characteristic of Dutch culture to me: their ability to be enterprising and sell almost anything (fruit, sandwiches, clothes, electronics, furniture, records, baked goods, recyclable cups, access to their toilets) and their ability to make a fun, almost naive party for all ages—my favorite just might have been all the children getting in on the fun which is clearly not reserved for adults only. This might sound crazy but I also admire how the holiday is almost comprised of people wholesomely celebrating their country and their culture. It's refreshing to not have to constantly question patriotism and just have fun.

View from a friend's 3rd floor apartment near Leidseplein 

Detail of my orange shoelaces! 

The Dutch flag 

After a long day of walking around the city, dancing with strangers on Prisengracht, meeting new people, having dinner with friends, and watching the royal parade on boats along Het Ij on big screens at Museumplein, I headed home. As I neared the canal closest to my apartment, Kostverlorenvaart, I slowly realized that debris from a boat was floating in the silvery purple water, and then I realized the last of a group of Dutch hipsters were extracting themselves from the canal. Poor partiers! Their boat had capsized and their speakers, bean bag chairs, and beer cans were floating in the canal. Well, at least everyone got out safely!

Debris from capsized boat in canal Kostverlorenvaart

This dude seemed jovial enough even though his party had officially ended

Good night Amsterdam!

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