I know. You may not be able to schedule your vacation in Amsterdam in late April, a time that is tranquil and beautiful, where the canals reflect picturesque beauty on a quiet morning.
Because if you are in the Netherlands on April 30, you will have the opportunity to experience the wild and wonderful "Queen's Day."
Think "the biggest street party ever!"
Think orange -- more orange than any Halloween junkie could pull together.
Think wild, wonderful fun!
Queen's Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands and is the official celebration of the Queen's birthday. (This isn't really Queen Beatrix's birthday -- that's in January -- but it's observed on that day, which was the birthday of Queen Juliana, Beatrix's mother.)
The Dutch royal family is from the House of Orange -- consequently, orange is the color of the day -- and there is plenty of it!
There's a long history to this holiday that was first observed in 1995. And I'm sure the queen is glad for all the celebration.
But for the people -- it's just so darned much fun! Think of it as everything the Fourth of July would like to be -- and more!
Because Amsterdam has one canal after another, you can count on lots of action in the canals on Queen's Day.
Barge after barge loaded with happy revelers (many of whom were enjoying Heineken and Amstel!) would pass down the canals as people leaned over bridges to wave.
There was music, dancing and joy!
Queen's Day found organizations fundraising with innovative games, like this homemade slot machine.
Three people were behind the canvas screen, blindfolded, with a variety of fruit at hand.
Someone would "pull the handle" and they'd make a great amount of whooshing noise and hold up fruit. If the fruits matched, the person won a prize!
Rick donated to the Doctors without Borders by participating in a stationery bike race.
He really gave the competing rider a run for the money and it was close to a draw. But in the end, the winded young athlete had the greatest distance in the allotted time.
Queen's Day was also the biggest city yard sale I've ever seen.On canals, in front of bridges, anywhere, people set out everything from toys to clothing to some nice smalls.
Orange is the color of the day for your ensemble, as well.
Don't worry -- if you don't have any orange clothing with you, you can surely find some on the street.
Just don't try to mark your path by "turning right at the orange sign." Trust me. It won't work!
Next time, we'll go from Queen's Day in Amsterdam to a smaller Dutch town!
1) If you are mobility challenged, beware on Queen's Day. The streets are so crowded that the trams don't run, and streets are blocked for cars. Even bikes were having a tough time.
2) The same warning goes if you have trouble with crowds. I've never seen anything so packed, including the inside of the stadium concourse on the day of a big game.
3) Getting There -- We took the bus for about a 20 minute ride and it let us off at Centraal Station. The photo above is what we saw as we were making our way back to the station. That solid mass of humanity coming down the steps was coming in for the holiday -- from the bus, the ferry, the train.
4) You won't want a big purse here. Take your wallet, cash (in case you want to buy anything at the flea market) and your camera. And a map. Leave the rest at home!