Koningsdag

The most anticipated celebration of the year, Koningsdag, came to Amsterdam this weekend! King’s Day (in English) is the celebration of the royalty’s birthday. The first Queen’s Day celebrations started in 1885 to celebrate the birth of Queen Wilhemina, but a king entered the game last year and now we get to celebrate him! So, happy birthday Willem Alexander! First king’s day in 122 years! Throughout the day we talked about whether anything like this happened at home, and quite frankly, not at all. I realize that this time around I am living in the middle of a city, so it’s a whole different situation than what could occur near home in Dallas. The streets were flooded in orange, in honor of the Dutch Royal Family, the House of Oranje-Nassau. Basically it’s a huge pride celebration and it’s something that isn’t even equivalent to the fourth of July.

Haarlemmerstraat King's Day Festivities!

Haarlemmerstraat King’s Day Festivities!

The main components for King’s Day are orange everything, music, selling stuff in the streets, and beer. King’s Night is almost as big as the actual day. On Friday we went to Kingston Crown and Hannekes Boom, a Jamaican-themed evening at one of our favorite treehouse hangouts. We missed the BBQ because the line was so long to get in, but it was well worth it to wait (despite the lightning looming over us, we prayed that it would pass and there would be no rain the next day!) There was a big free concert with plenty of reggae music and some Dutch rap as well. I was super stoked to hear it, just as a change-up from the usual electronic music that the Dutch love to play. Nat and I went to grab a beer and when we rejoined our friends at the front of the stage, we realized they were handing out cake in celebration. So festive! But of course, the crowd was way too hip to be wearing anything orange.

Kingston Crown, Hannekes Boom.

Kingston Crown, Hannekes Boom.

Natalie eating the beloved cake!

Natalie eating the beloved cake!

Despite a late night we all rallied the next morning for a King’s Day brunch in French Lea’s flat. We had to have some substance in us for what the rest of the day held! We ate french toast and eggs and cheese, even orange juice (fitting) and champagne. We headed into the city around noon, when everything was in full swing. Our neighborhood was a bit quiet but everything picked up in our beloved Haarlemmerplein. The main square there was full of people laying out their goods to sell. A lot is just crap, but they also sell coffee and orange cookies and such. The main haarlemmerdijk/straat was packed with people, and they flooded out to all of the little side streets too. We popped over to the Jordaan for more celebrations, included a few street parties. The best part of being in the city early in the afternoon was the street party we found on Singel. People were super crazy and the DJ was playing some good disco. Dam Square had a big carnival, but I’m sure it would have been insanely packed and partying if the square was empty.

Our gang of girls before entering the Jordaan! You can see a bit of the celebrations behind us.

Our gang of girls before entering the Jordaan! You can see a bit of the celebrations behind us.

Surprisingly the canals weren't as packed as we expected! I think we were a bit early.

Surprisingly the canals weren’t as packed as we expected! I think we were a bit early.

King's Day selfies were definitely in order!

King’s Day selfies were definitely in order! I think this captures how happy I was.

We had to get back to our neighborhood in time for King’s Day at Strand West. Strand West is a very unanticipated beach (that I think usually has a bar) literally right behind our containers. We had seen them setting up for the festival for a few days and we had NO idea how huge it was. People were pouring into our container complex when we came back, it was unlike anything we’ve seen around where we live. Strand West was hosting a big electronic festival, and it was the highlight of the day. 4 stages, a mini Coachella of electronic music and the most gorgeous concentration of young Dutch people I’ve ever seen. It was definitely where the hip Dutch young people came to see and be seen, the best party in the city. And it was RIGHT in our backyard. We danced all day and into the evening, but the festivities ended at 8pm.

Main stage at Strand West. The rain came today, not yesterday thank god!

Main stage at Strand West. The rain came today, not yesterday thank god!

Strand West.

Strand West.

I rode my bike through a bit of the city on my way to the gym today, expected mass destruction and trash everywhere. But alas, the street cleaners had already covered Haarlemmerplein and signs of the parties could barely be seen. Not sure if this makes me happy or sad. The Dutch are resuming their normal lives now, and the one day a year they lose it is now over. I think I would have been overwhelmed by the amount of trash, so maybe seeing my clean city again was a good thing.

It was an awesome feeling to celebrate something so loved by the Dutch after living here for eight months now. We get to see little nationalistic things every day, but this was full-blown Dutch pride. This is one of the few days of the year when the general public can fly the Dutch flag, isn’t that interesting? I feel even more like a part of this country now, my second home. I might have to rock a little orange on King’s Day back in the U.S. next year, though I am wearing orange every day anyway (my hair, if you didn’t catch that)! I hope the rest of my Dutchies had a great Koningsdag, I know I’ll remember this day for a long, long time.

 

Amsterdam Cafe Bucket List Page!

Just announcing that I got fancy and made a page of my blog specifically for my cafe adventures, as to not clog up my regular posts with a bunch of pictures of coffee (although who could complain about that?) You can find it next to the “About Me” page.

Since I don’t want to waste my 30th blog post on that dumb little announcement, here’s a picture of what’s been carrying me around Amsterdam lately. Couldn’t do it without you guys!

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Alle waarom heeft zijn daarom. “Everything has an underlying reason.”

So many things happen that I can’t explain while living on your own, living in Amsterdam, travelling Europe, or just trying to work out being a young adult in general. I decided to title this post with that particular Dutch proverb because I feel like no matter what happens over here, it was supposed to. Whether having (initially) just an acquaintance staying at your home or getting thrown off track while travelling, everything really does happen for a reason. Or you can choose to have resilience and accept it, therefore making it seem more natural, whatever works.

Where have I been? That’s something I’ve been asking myself also! My time was spent rotating between the Crea cafe (an adorable cafe attached to the UvA arts department), entertaining a friend from Claremont, and getting prepped for Dublin. I’ve also been spending time thinking about the fact that my friends here only for the first semester will be leaving in about a month and a half (or while I’m back in Dallas).

I loved having my girl Melanie (from Claremont McKenna but studying abroad in Copenhagen) stay with me for a few days. Melanie is an Environmental politics and economy major at CMC and I love that we’re basically in the same boat in terms of education and studying this topic abroad. EA majors in Claremont have mental crises every few weeks when we try figuring out why we put ourselves through such depressing and tough topics, but then we thoroughly enjoyed discussing carbon taxation in our free time, so maybe that’s why. She brought along her friend Danny, and the four of us spent time around Amsterdam and also went to the Amsterdam Music Festival (with Nat), and it was absolutely insane. The biggest Dutch house djs were there including Armin van Buuren, Alesso, and Hardwell. Amsterdam had their huge dance music festival last weekend and I guess over 300 different shows; that’s unheard of! Amsterdam Music Festival.

Luckily the weather was perfect that weekend. I talk about weather so frequently but it really determines what type of day you’re going to have. I met up with Melanie a few more times during the week when I wasn’t too busy studying. We went to the annual fall carnival in Dam Square and rode this giant swing thing that allows you to see Amsterdam from pretty high up. Spending just a few days with someone you only somewhat knew before can spawn such a friendship and I’m thankful Melanie reached out to me for a place to stay. Incredible!

"Around the World," our favorite ride at the carnival

“Around the World,” our favorite ride at the carnival

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After my exam last Wednesday evening I packed and got ready to ship out to Dublin to stay with my friend Ivanna’s twin sister (Ivanna is with me in Amsterdam and her sister studies at Trinity), and I met up with Ivanna and Kaitlyn there. That will be in my next post, but I wanted to cover my travel nightmares in this one (and not put such a damper on a post that should be about a glorious trip in Ireland!). My flight out of Eindhoven (1.5 hours away from Amsterdam) was rerouted to fly out of Maastricht due to too much fog– this entailed everyone on the flight loading onto a bus for an hour trip. Although I was obviously frustrated, I ended up getting to see the Dutch countryside for the first time. I saw the agriculture I study about and even traditional windmills. The country is flat but still beautiful. The leaves are changing but everything is still so fresh and green. I finally got to Dublin later in the afternoon than anticipated, but it ended up being alright. I met a woman on the bus from the airport to Trinity who was actually Dutch and so happy to talk to me about my time in Amsterdam and helped me navigate the city. Freaky coincidences happen every day, what a truly small world.

A Dutch sunrise, behind a dirty Dutch train window.

A Dutch sunrise, behind a dirty Dutch train window.

I’m not sure how much news about the UK hurricane is revolving around the US, but a pretty huge storm hit Europe today (not technically a hurricane but ridiculous winds). Luckily Ivanna and I flew out of Dublin before it occurred, but it became basically impossible to take a train back into Amsterdam from Utrecht because of electrical failures. A few people in Amsterdam even died because of this storm (falling trees), and that’s terrifying. Civilians were warned to stay inside and not to ride their bikes, so I guess you could say the weather was pretty serious. After 6 hours in the train station I finally made it home.  And again, as much as I wanted to complain about being stuck in the Dutch countryside, there was absolutely no reason not to smile when we finally got on a train to Central Station; you could watch sheep for miles out of the windows. The sun was starting to set under the dark storm clouds and everything was so green. Sheep and cows were grazing right beside the train and they were beautiful. No picture from the train could have done them justice.  I loved seeing the sheep while flying into Holland, but now I love seeing them from the train as well. The trees on this route were more bare and it felt more like winter than autumn, but nevertheless it was exactly what you might imagine from western European farmlands. I guess there are some upsides to unexpected changes in your schedule. That’s something I learn from studying abroad over and over again.

Washed Out (literally)

So THIS is what Amsterdam rain is all about! I really thought our apartments were going to blow right into the bay this weekend. Downpours started Friday and haven’t quit. Did I break my umbrella, try to deal with a broken umbrella, and then break it worse? Of course! Did this hinder my weekend plans? Of course not! Except I do need a new umbrella, so that might hinder my weekday plans…

I’ll dork out for a second to talk about my Friday computer practicum for Food Production– we got to use a program to model crop rotations of a certain amount of years, and see how certain crops and fertilizers changed the environment and production of nitrogen in the Netherlands and also in Spain. It was really interesting and a lot of fun. I am also now a member of Students for Sustainability Amsterdam, which is a city-wide environmental group. Although the group is mainly Dutch, the coordinator said they would be happy to have an English speaker to work on the divestment campaign. I did some work for a campaign like this at Pitzer (trying to divest from fossil fuels), so I feel like I somewhat know what I’m talking about. We’ll see how this goes, I’m meeting with them this week.

Incase you were curious, this is what my commute to campus looks like while riding through the more industrial part of Amsterdam: am_commute

Friday night was a relaxing night of drinking with friends and going to a very local bar right in the middle of Westerpark (where the market was last weekend). It’s called Pacific Park, and they play lots of oldies. The atmosphere is amazing and everyone is young and so very Dutch (typical). My partner in crime, Natalie, was off to Ukraine so I enjoyed time with other friends in my building and had a really awesome night. It ended with warm tea in the Cal(l)um apartment which was perfect. The only picture I have is this very eerie picture of the giant table and chairs that are also in the middle of the park. am_table

Saturday was homework, pizza, and rain-filled. So I’ll just leave that there.

Sunday, I ventured into the city center for retail therapy (specifically more sweaters… necessary!) and this is where I saw pure chaos. Broken umbrellas were flooding the streets, and the street cleaners were out just to take care of them. The wind was insane, but tourists were still out and about.  I would see tourists walk out of gift shops with brand new Amsterdam-themed umbrellas (rainbow, marijuana leaves, anything that was left) only for the umbrellas to immediately invert and break. So sad, but also kind of funny? I enjoyed roughing it alone in the rain and getting out of my apartment. Leah was gone for the weekend and I did some deep cleaning and organizing (finally). Although I sense another IKEA shop coming upon me (probably when the rain stops).

Once returning home, I went to my very first Canadian Thanksgiving. I didn’t know this was a thing until my Canadian friend, Devon, planned it. Either way, it was a great excuse to eat yummy mashed potatoes and salad and some steak (no turkey…) with some sweet Canadians. Unfortunately, Taylor (an actual Canadian) and I had to leave dinner early to head to the Washed Out concert at Melkweg. The wind was still insane, the rain hadn’t stopped, and buses were on weird schedules. Callum, Nathan, Taylor and I might have gotten lost in the rain a few times before finally arriving for the show. We caught the end of the opening act, Amateur Best, and then saw Washed Out. He/they were so good, really incredible. Their popular song is “Feel it All Around” which plays at the beginning of Portlandia, you’ll recognize it– song is under the picture.

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Still smooth sailing apart from adjusting to daily hurricanes. After my Dutch exam this Thursday, visitors from Copenhagen and a music festival this weekend, and an exam on Wednesday, I’ll be off to Dublin. Two months until I’ll be back home. I honestly can’t imagine only being here for a semester. Oh the things I would miss. am_stickers

Here’s a bonus picture of my breakfast from today, just for fun. It’s orange, like this country and me. am_breakfast

Tot ziens!