Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Little Orange for You?

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.
But try.
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!

Travel Tips!

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!


Joanne Huffman said...

It looks like great fin. Did you know it was coming or fall into it?

Bella Rum said...

Love all that orange, especially the orange wig. Well, I'm assuming it was a wig. Looks like fun.

Jeanie said...

A friend commented from the FB link and added this, which is useful info!

"We arrived on Queen's day and no taxis were allowed inside the perimeter of the canals. We were let off and had to walk about a mile toting our suit cases (no wheels) and being accosted by happy revelers. Canals looked like wall to wall Heineken cans by the time we got there. So, arrive Before the day itself."

Janet said...

Looks like a lot of fun...and a lot of walking. And Rick got to do some bike racing. I'm sure he enjoyed that.

joyce said...

I am going to forward this link to my mom, who is Dutch and very patriotic. Myself, I could never understand why, if their national colour is orange, is their flag red, white and blue. I have asked countless of my dutch relatives and the answer is always the same "It just is"

Tracy said...

Very FUN to see all the festivity... and all the juicy color orange! :o) We had thought to maybe go to the UK during Queen Elizabeth's Jubilee celebrations...but opted not to for all the crowds and pre-Olympic craziness...LOL! Great to catch up with you here, Jeanie! As you know, I've been offline a few days having some fun, just now surfacing! :o) Happy Weekend ((HUGS))

Marilyn said...

How very fun indeed! Not sure about the crowds though. Loved seeing Rick biking for the doctors. I would have been so tempted to shop too, at least one of those orange caps.

Kitty said...

I love being able to vicariously travel through your eyes. Joyce apparently missed your comment about the royalty being from the "House of Orange". Thanks. Love to you both.

Retired English Teacher said...

Wow, that is one crazy celebration! I do love all the orange, and I bet it was great fun. I'm not a fan of such large crowds. I would be ok for a bit, but then I would have to get out of the middle of it.

I love your travel tips. Are you speaking from the voice of experience on #4? I hope you didn't bring a big purse. I probably would have my big purse and regret that I didn't think ahead and scale down on what I had to carry.

Introverted Art said...

Jeanie, you look so beautiful with the most contagious smile. I am enjoying these posts so much. My hubby and I are planning a 2 week adventure in Europe and your tips are amazing.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Oh cool! What a fun event to partake in. And way to go Rick on giving that other biker a run for his money! How fun. I love all the orange!!

Arti said...

Looks like a more jubilant celebration than 'our' orange day... umm Halloween. I've long been intrigued by the 'Orange', House and history of 'Orange'.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

What a fantastic Celebration!! And your pictures capture it all so beautifully!
I love the look of Amsterdam---and on this special "Orange" day, it is even more wonderful!

shoreacres said...

Somehow I'd forgotten about the fact that the Netherlands have a Queen. How disrespectful of me! Dutch royalty do keep a bit of a lower profile, I guess.

But there's nothing low profile about her celebration. It does look like fun, except I think I'd not do well with the crowds. They used not to bother me, but after getting a little too trapped and panicky at a Mardi Gras celebration, I've been less and less inclined - especially where liberal amounts of alcohol are involved!

Still, it looks like a grand time, and the bicycle race is such a good idea. Thanks for sharing this quite unusual celebration!

Jenny Woolf said...

A friend was there last Queen's Day and had a whale of a time. They got rather drunk! Remind me next March. It's an easy hop from the UK :)

Leann said...

Love the shot with you in it. All that orange reminds me of high school - our colors were orange and brown.

This must have been a sight to see and enjoy!

Hope that you had a great weekend!

Icy BC said...

Looks like you had fun, and such a happy orange event to be part of!

The Artful Diva said...

you sure know how to have fun!

Virginia said...

I have always wanted to visit Amsterdam and now I know WHEN I want to visit. What fun and your photos convey that so well.

The Artful Diva said...

did I mention that I love the yellow shoes?!

~*~Patty S said...

Hard not to fall in Love with orange after seeing your photos :)

I had heard about it being a day where all of the Dutch have yard sales...nice Spring timing too :)

Barefoot from Heaven said...

Ohhh yeaaa so much fun. Been there several times and always always it was enjoyable. Totaly wicked you loved it too. Great shots of my fellow dutchmen. And yea the weather was so great on you guys too. I was in Chamonix at that point in the week. To bad I've missed it this year (that was a first).
You made me laugh about the fact that this is even more orangy than your halloween parties ;-)))) Cracked me up. Hugs Dagmar

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