If you don't know anything about the celebration of the King in Netherlands, you should read this.
It was eventually the first year celebrating a king, after decades of an old grumpy queen (sorry M'am...). For those who didn't read, let's try to put it in a nutshell: The whole country gets out, dress up in orange, and party for a complete day, drinking the beloved local beverage: the Heineken beer. I can see from here some of you making faces thinking of Heneiken, and believe me, I understand.
Still, the day happens to be one of the most sunny days of the year in Netherlands, always moved to be on a Saturday. Plus, even if there are many places where to spend it, Amsterdam is one of the best, based on, well, hm...my opinion. This for two reasons (main reasons, there's probably plenty):
1. Boatz ! Boats everywhere, each and every canal is filled with hundreds of boats, small to big, equipped like discos and overcrowded. Canals are an amazing show on their own.
2. People! More than anywhere else in Netherland, people are smiling, open minded, ready to discuss, just not afraid to talk with a foreigner. This is sooo relaxing.
Anyway, may this sounds convincing or not doesn't really matter any more. I was in Amsterdam for the queen - no king - day, combined with a friend's birthday.We had a great time wandering around, in this buzzing, partying, orange city for a week end. As *almost* usual, I took my old nikon F3 and for its first time out, a second hand Zeiss planar 50mm. The lens is quite surprising with an endless focus ring that can be amazingly sharp...when you have enough time to focus ! There were few situations were I bitterly regretted to not to have a good DSLR with a fast AF. Life's made of choices, but manual focus is not always enough in a fast moving crowd. Even when zone focusing.But enough talking, let me show you, in Black and White, the few of not-that-blurry pictures I brought back from Amsterdam.
First, with the idea to reach the center of the old town,we made our way through the museumsplein, a green field in front of the rijksmuseum. Quite early in the morning (*cough*, around 11 am), there's no wind and all sorts of people are laying on the grass, playing football, sleeping, just enjoying the sun, and somehow, taking pictures...
This is when we had the opportunity to meet the tallest goalkeeper of, at least, the area. The boy was doing his best, but didn't even notice the ball racing toward him that passed just above his head (top right corner of the picture)
Moving forward, we reached the "I Amsterdam" sign. I've been there few times already and I've never ever seen it completely deserted. There's always a couple of guys seated on top of one of the letters. Of course, today was no exception.
Walking toward the city center gives a serious taste of what happens. Crowded streets closed to cars and tramways. Improvised shops for food, drinks, bier taps ready to go, music coming from everywhere, speakers, DJ's, well. a city sized party.
Next is something I mentioned already: Boats !
Some are preparing their trip
Some are already sailing
Some are "sailing" the way they can
And some...won't go anywhere....
The rest of the day is just a mix of events, drinks, more events, more drinks.Maybe one word about this two kids (parents in the background). While the cowboy was playing old rocky tunes, the first one, dressed up like a...stuffed bear maybe ? was dancing in front of the crowd. The way this kid was dancing was somehow psychedelic and mad eme think of old goa trance free party I had ages ago.
More drinks, bringing to a bit of fuzz sometimes, but the police's never that far in Amsterdam. The humiliation of being "handled" to the station this way, was probably enough.
Also, there are several activities for kids, including the famous toilet-paper-roll-race :)
Maybe few words about two persons I met there. The first one is Dawit. Dawit in Ethiopian, living in Amsterdam since few years now, not a hobo, but close to be. Seeing the massive amount of people in the streets, he borrowed a djembé and started to play in random places trying to get coins. The biggest problem of Dawit is that he is nothing of a djembé player. Nothing at all. Observing him from a table at a café, I saw not less than 3 guys that stopped, sat with him on his bench, and tryed to teach him how to play. I finally went to meet him shortly, hearing the story of his life, his wife still in Ethiopia, the lost tracks of two kids, his daily business in a Dutch speaking country...A funny and great guy badly playing djembé :)
Dawit, wherever you are now, good luck and take care.
Another person to mention, is Greet. Greet is 72. As the city turns into a gigantic flea-market the very same day, she put on the walkway all her belongings she'd get rid of. Greet told me how she is suffering from a way too expensive life with a way to small pension. Still, she's living in a small house in an area of the city that came to be popular, not to say fancy. She was proud to tell how many famous TV stars she was meeting while shopping, though complaining that the prices in the very same shops raised by 50% since then.
At the end of the day, we finally walked back to our hotel, tipsy, you probably know...
If you never visited Amsterdam, you should. If you have, try to come back the king's day :)