In the spring of 2002 I ventured to Amsterdam to visit a good friend working on her Master's degree abroad. Having heard so much about Amsterdam (mostly the red light district and the easy access to ganja) I thought I knew what to expect and expected not to care for it much. While I did find a lot of non-surprises, there was plenty new and unexpected to discover. I particularly enjoyed the cafés and the shopping, day tripping to Haarlem and Keukenhof Gardens. And then there was the outdoor party with oh, say 500,000 folks, despite the rain.
The Queen Mother of all Parties
On April 30th each year, the Dutch pause to party in honor of Queen Beatrix' mother, the former Queen, Juliana. Queen's Day is a spectacle, indeed. And a very orange spectacle at that. There is nothing but orange, everywhere, on Queen's Day. The current Dutch royals are from the House of Orange, thus all the citrus-colored clothing, food, drinks, fountains, etc. on this day. In addition to partying with between 500,000 to 2,000,000 people in Amsterdam (the numbers of revellers depend largely on the weather, I think), you can also enjoy open air shopping, en masse. People are allowed to sell anything and everything in the street on April 30th, without a permit. Flea market mania. It's a great day and great fun. A bit soggy the year I was there, but we still managed to have a good time. Just got a little wet in addition to wild.
Cuckoo for Keukenhof
I like flowers. Especially in a nice outdoor garden. Who doesn't? But when was the last time you were so bowled over with giddy delight at the lay of a landscape that you actually had to take time-outs to take it all in? For me, the year was 2002. End of April, early May, to be exact. And the location was Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse. A nice day trip from Amsterdam via bus. I thought I'd seen a pretty tulip or two in my day, but by golly I had no idea what a truly tantalizing tulip was until I experienced the thousands of blooming bulbs in this expansive outdoor paradise. The number of flowers is simply dizzying—nearly 7,000,000 bulbs are planted and strut their stuff annually. According to the park's planners, the ideal time to view the blooms is the last two weeks of April or the first week of May. This is the timeframe I was lucky enough to go and I can tell you firsthand that the display is well worth the price of admission and then some. Absolutely fantastic.
Yep. That's all I got on Amsterdam. Disappointing, I know.
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