This was the second day of our Europe trip and our second day in Amsterdam. We had not realized this when we booked the trip, but April 30 is a very special holiday in the Netherlands called Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day in English). Queen’s Day is a huge outdoor party, all over the city, and the city is filled with the color orange. People are dressed in orange and wearing orange crowns and other orange paraphenalia. There’s lots of music and partying and people in boats sailing down the canals while drinking and dancing on their boats. It’s quite a site to see.
While a huge crowd of people gathered in a park to attend a free concert, we went to the Van Gogh Museum.
Afterwards, we walked around the crowded city, looking for a non-crowded place to eat lunch. After a while we settled at a place called the Beems Brasserie, where I had a delicious Dutch beefsteak w/ pepper sauce and fries and Nicole had a club sandwich.
After lunch, we did a canal cruise and then had so
me great fries and mayonaise from a street vendor.
Incidentally, the city had some interesting “public urinals” out on the street.
One nice thing about Queen’s Day for us was that while everyone was partying outside, we easily slipped into the Anne Frank House, which normally is a very busy attraction.
The Anne Frank House, as you might expect, is a sobering experience and I definitely felt the irony of being in such a sad place while the rest of the city was partying outside.
While walking around, two orange-clad, gregarious Dutchmen engaged us in conversation. We as tourists of course stuck out like a sore thumb and they inquired where we were from. I mentioned that we were from California and interestingly, it turned out that one of guys had spent some time at Stanford, which is where I did my Master’s. Before leaving us, the two guys reached into the deep pockets of their cargo pants and gave us two bottles of Heineken. That tells you something about the atmosphere in Amsterdam on Queen’s Day.
One of the things that fascinated us most about Queen’s Day was the incredible amounts of trash everywhere.
We ate dinner that night at an Indian restaurant called Bollywood. The food was quite good and they had TVs showing Bollywood movies. We talked a bit with one of the servers, who spoke excellent English. Interesting that this guy spoke excellent Dutch, English, and probably a few Indian languages. Dutch folks in general tend to speak excellent English (at least the ones that a tourist tends to encounter) so getting around and getting info is pretty easy.