WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE KING WAS CROWNED
Never go anywhere without research. This has always been my motto, but it’s also my motto to “live a little” – “travel by the seat of your pants” -” be spontaneous,” because too much planning can really get in the way of fun.
In this case. Not. Because we are airline people, traveling on standby with my benefits as a retiree with USAirways……sometimes, we have to make plans very quickly, and most of the time, everything works out.
But yesterday – the day of the abdication of the QUEEN, and the CORONATION of her son – this event met us QUITE by surprise. We thought we would just see pretty flowers, and we did, but since we had to make a trip into town – you know the CENTER of AMSTERDAM, we got involved in what was THE biggest party of the century -atleast for Holland .
What I’m about to write, I wish I were reading it from someone else. But – I’ m not. It’s from me and in the first person unlike some of my “2nd person stories” .
So then! Would you like to attend the Party of all Parties? Do you know where it is? Do you know how often it occurs? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s in Holland, and it’s about every 30 something years. What happens here is sort of a phenomenon. The Queen of Holland, Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard has been Queen since 1980. Before her, it was her mother Queen Juliana. Her mother abdicated TO HER – and on April 30,1980, now she, 33 years later has abdicated to her son. In another 33 years, he may abdicate for his daughter, but then, we don’t know that. So, the last party here – this big- was 33 years ago. We arrived on the day of the BIGGEST PARTY. The King of Holland’s CORONATION.
Because of the HOUSE OF ORANGE – everything and everyone is in ORANGE. There are Orange suits, orange ties, orange hair, orange tights, orange shoes, orange designer bags, orange faces, orange to the puking point. Actually there were some of those. There are drunk people (most of them) in the street and every block there is a huge dancing party with extremely loud rock music, and I think only my son and his step brother and maybe Cate, my English teacher friend from Paris – would be so on it. They would love it all.
When we arrived at the station inside the airport (where there are actually lockers for your luggage) the ticket seller said, “You’ve already been to the tulip festival, and now you’re going to downtown Amsterdam?” We said “YES” very cheerfully, and he said, ‘Well, you’re braver than me, I wouldn’t do it” and we never quite understood that statement until , 20 minutes later we arrived at the center station and saw HUNDRED OF THOUSANDS of merry makers heading TOWARDS us………I thought….even if we turn around now, and head back to the train, – we wouldn’t even get ON the train. So, we kept walking to Leidesplein, where we needed to be.
I have never seen anything in my entire life as lively or more trash laden then this party was in the streets. I have never walked over so much broken glass in my life.
I ‘ve never seen so many men pee in a radius of one mile in my life. (And I walked 8 miles of this (activity) in full range view. They are partially covered by the makeshift “pee stations” but – it’s – for me – eye averting.
I wondered how the streets of Amsterdam would ever be beautiful again, or how the trams would run at 5 in the morning with all that crap, paper, confetti, broken glass, liquor bottles whole, cups, thrown out fast food all over the trams lines.
The amazing thing was, that by 2am – the entire city was clean. Totally and beautifully cleaned and washed as though there had never been a party.
We saw a lot of happy people during this controlled mayhem. Unfortunately I was not one of them. I am too old to get this drunk, or party this hard, or be out this late. I was a whiner and a photographer at the same time. My admiration goes to my husband who, among the longest walk we have taken since we climbed the GARLABAN in Aubagne France (711 meters), in March, – never complained once. I thought to myself………what the heck is wrong with this man, that he does not complain??? I am an ocean of complaint……my head, my KNEES, my legs, my back, my FEET, – and he said nothing. (Except, when I got too near the canal to take pictures of the merry makers drunk beyond drunk traveling the canals by boat and singing at the top of their lungs).
The evening was topped off beautifully by a scam taxi driver, who, when having to pay an EXORBIANT amount to get back to the train station -………told us there was a train accident and no trains out until after midnight. We believed him and said, “Okay, take us (knowing it would be a fortune) to the airport where our bag was in the locker and where we could get the FREE shuttle to our hotel. The taxi driver decided to screw us further at our final destination, by switching my 50 euro note for a 5…….and confusing the entire situation with double talk so that I couldn’t remember if I had actually taken a 50 out in the dark cab, or not. David knew I had taken a 50 out, and then out of the corner of his eye (because he’s known as the “finder of the world” – ) saw the 50 euro note on the drivers door thrown in a hurry when he went to make the switch with a 5 euro note. I was so non-plussed and David stuck to his guns and quizzed this taxi driver and then told him exactly what he had done. I don’t think this taxi driver had anyone ever quite like David before because he was unable to form an audible explanation , he just sort of babbled from that moment on. David got out of the cab like he wasn’t going to pay him at all, and everyone on this huge tour bus next to us – was looking at this altercation and so were others and I just wanted to pay him the 85 euros , even though he had tried to cheat us out of 50+ euros – and get AWAY from him. David finally paid him – and we got out of there, but it left me in sort of shock – and I was very very grateful that he hadn’t gotten away with it…..and that it wasn’t worse than it had been. David knew this trick from a taxi driver who did the same thing to us (or tried to) in Instanbul.
Oh my lord.
We hit the hotel on the verge of collapse. The clerk there was the kindest soul and when he asked why it wasn’t such a great day for us – and I told him, he said the most wonderful things that made me feel so much better. He said, “unfortunately, there are many unscrupulus drivers who will do this, and he was sorry, and that had we not been expecting what we encountered today -that Amsterdam parties are a bit of a shock. He hoped that we would have a decent night’s sleep. He was so kind to us. At times like these, you just want someone to acknowledge your no good horrible day. And he did.
We went to the bar and had a nice glass of red wine in a beautiful glass – as a nightcap – and were grateful grateful to be at this hotel , peaceful, and could collapse……..what a day- what a CORONATION –
what incredible TULIPS !!!!