Saturday, May 7, 2011

Queen's Day in Amsterdam

On Queen's Day (April 30th) we boarded the tram to go to downtown Amsterdam.  Van Komen's were our guides.

Off to our left as we exited the train station was the Oude Kerk.  If we walked in that direction we would be in the Red Light District.  Maybe another time.....

It is only 10:00 am but the crowds are already starting to arrive.

This is my first time in downtown Amsterdam.  Linford and Janie are old-timers.

Policemen are very visible.  This will be a day that they are out in force.

It is obvious that we have come under-dressed.

After walking about a block I could get part of the train station in my camera lens.  It is a HUGE building, and very beautiful.  It was opened in 1889 in the area that was once the Amstel River. It's construction was a great engineering feat.  New islands had to be built, and thousands of piles were driven into the watery ground.

In case you didn't bring your own costume, there are plenty of places to stop and purchase what you need.  Everything's orange, of course.  The royal family is called the "House of Orange" - hence the monopoly of that vibrant color. 

After walking a few blocks we arrive at "Dam Square" - the very center of the old city.  It has been called the dam since original residents built a dam here to protect their homes from the floods.  Hey!  I get it!  Amstel - dam.  Wait - when did they change the 'l' to an 'r'  and make it Amster - dam?   (Incidentally, that's the Royal Palace behind the ferris wheel.  Today it has been supplanted by all the carnival apparatus.  It was originally built in 1648 and is perhaps the grandest structure in Amsterdam.  It took over 13,000 piles driven into the wet, sandy soil to support its weight.)

Madame Tussaur's Wax Museum is also on the square.  Another day we'll need to check it out.

We've left our missionary clothes and badges at home.  This is definitely not a day that people are looking for compelling discussions about religion.

Robert Van Komen takes the casual look to a whole new level when he finds this orange wig on the ground. 

There were booths with food and drink everywhere along the streets.  These waffles looked pretty.

This man is cooking 'Poppetjes" a tradional Dutch treat.

Not real easy to see, but this is a makeshift grill.  The top level contains all kinds of meat and the bottom level contains the charcoal to cook them. 

It's obvious that we're not worrying about LDS dress standards today.

Now here's a lively group.  They have a definite German flavor.

The other side of Dam Square has a Diamond Factory.  There are several here in Amsterdam.  The Dutch are world famous for their cut diamonds.  Of course, they have their own private source from South Africa.

Even the buildings get into the spirit of the day.

It's still early, but the crowds are growing.

Janie Van Komen stands in front of the Royal Theatre. 

Not royal - but probably more famous:  the Hard Rock Cafe, Amsterdam.

A rare moment without mobs of people.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and I am loving my first look at Amsterdam.

We decided to take a canal tour to get some weight off our feet.  The boats that passed us were filled to capacity with happy 'Orangies".  All of the boats were playing loud, raucous music, and the passengers danced and waved as they passed.

We passed the Rijk's Museum on our right.  It is definitely going to be on my "return visit" list.

This little fellow loved all the music and bright colors.  He's looking pretty colorful himself!

The river is lined with houseboats.  There are hundreds of them.

Is everyone having fun?

I think they tried to paint this boat orange and it didn't quite come out the color they intended.

I wonder what the dog thinks about all of this?  (He's probably having a grand old time.)

The city of Amsterdam has more rivers and canals than Venice, Italy.  Our boat driver told us they call Venice the "Little Amsterdam of the South".

Their symphony building is very modern.

There are bridges all along the river that open to let boats pass.  Today they will stay open all day because cars aren't allowed to use the roads - they are completely over-run by foot traffic.

Another bridge.

President Brubaker told us that the Dutch build their homes with these pointy roofs because in the old days they belived  that the ascending roofs would help them stay connected with heaven.  I think it's been several hundred years since they've been too concerned about that.

Even the casino gets into the act.

Okay, now.  Is this going one step beyond?

Actually, he was quite a friendly guy.  Linford wasn't too sure about getting this friendly.
(Notice how tall he is?  It isn't uncommon to find 7 footers over here.)

Anyone want to guess how straight these two guys are?

The clean-up after the party is going to be a massive job.

It's getting harder to weave our way through the crowd, and they're getting more 'happy' as the day goes on.

We stopped for a late lunch and bought some frites (french fries).  Nobody does them like the Dutch.  Mmmm. 

If you're after a little more than food, there are marijuana coffee shops all over the city.

I wish I could describe the sights and sounds of Queen's Day.  It was so bright, and loud, and crazy.

The police were very vigilant.  We understand they arrested 333 people -  that doesn't seem like a lot when you consider there were over a million people in the streets of downtown Amsterdam during the day and well into the night.

As the crowds picked up, we started heading back to the train station.  We don't want to still be here when the serious drinking starts.

We couldn't get across the bridge because it was too packed.  

A little side note......if you needed to take a leak, there were urinals in strategic places for the men.  What about the girls, you ask?  Well, you could pay to use a temporary mobile facility.   However, the cost was 4 Euros (about $6.00).

These green ones were next to the train station.  There doesn't seem to be any embarrassment about using them.

Walking back to the train station we saw some buildings that were leaning forward, out of line with the ones next to them.  If you look closely at the dark brown building, the top is leaning out about a foot.  There obviously weren't enough piles under them to keep them straight.

This one was even easier to see.  I wonder if they will eventually fall forward all the way??

Bye, Amsterdam.  Have a great party! 
It's been an experience we won't soon forget.  (Our feet are screaming to go home!)

1 comment:

  1. WOW! What a party! I LOVE your commentary on the photos - Tim and I are absolutely dying about the orange man - SO funny!