I promise this is the last post about celebrations here in Amsterdam. But considering the scale and unavoidable appeal, here’s my official post about Queen’s Day ’07. (cross posted from my sister blog, Trippist.com)
One thing you may not hear about on Queen’s Day is the underlying spirit on the canals. Sure there are lots of drunken people, lots of loud music, tons of crap for sale, and plenty of men peeing in to canals. But what you may not hear about, and what Ive grown to love, is the spirit of sharing amongst boat people.
At some point all my passengers want off, so I pull over and off they go. Suddenly Im boating alone, trapped in the thickest boat traffic possible.. elbow to elbow with all kinds of people partying. And one after another, they all react the same way when they see me and my empty boat. “You’re alone? Why are you alone? You need to pick up people!” And then comes the second phase, “Here, have a beer. Here have this fruit. Here have cheese and cake.” Suddenly I’ve let go of the stick and people around me are pulling the boat along, from all sides, while I eat all this food people hand me.
And that is how it goes all afternoon long. At some point I want to give some love back, and just then – a boat pulls alongside me on the Amstel and asks “Do you have any beer?” I say nothing and hold up a wine bottle, handing it over to them. “Wait” they shout, grabbing my boat to keep me from floating away, “Have some wine with us”, I put the engine in neutral and drink a toast to the Amstel river. We chat for a bit about what canal is good to ride on at this hour, and then I speed away.
You’ll hear plenty of stories about Queen’s Day, and mostly they’ll paint it as one big mess. They’re not wrong. But on the canals, I know a different tradition, and its the real reason I like Queens Day.