Tag Archives: April 2015

Celebrating King’s Day in Amsterdam

April, 2015

This morning I woke up with a spring in my step! It’s King’s day!! Koningsdag!! The biggest birthday party in the world!! I donned my orange feather boa and my orange feathery crown. We hit the streets and wandered through Haarlemmerstraat. It was packed to the brim! People (in orange) walked along the street shoulder to shoulder. Little stalls set up on the sidewalks with kids selling lemonade, parents selling old clothes, toys, and other various items. Music was playing around every corner, and not one face was frowning. It was wonderful!


We saw boat after boat filled with orange people. There was one boat in particular carrying only boys all wearing orange onesies, orange afro wigs, and orange sunglasses. They were quite a spectacle! We figured it was a good time to stop and have some lunch. We sat on the canal edge, with our feet dangling over, and ate our snacks. We watched the boats go by and laughed at the characters on each. One boat looked like a giant floating dance floor! One boat that went by set off a confetti cannon!! It was magical and wonderful! I think confetti cannons are up there among a few of my favourite things.


We found ourselves at the stage on Westerstraat and danced to the awesome music they played. We were dancing with two guys dressed in big, furry, orange onesies. I laughed at them. Over their shoulders, I could see a third and a fourth dressed in the same outfit. Then a fifth and sixth. Then a seventh. Sally said, “there are SO many of them wearing that onesie!” I laughed as I looked around at the sea of furry, orange men. I looked over at the buildings surrounding and there was one window in particular that made me smile. There were four older ladies dancing at the window and taking part in the fun! it was so fantastic to see them dancing along to the tunes, cheers’ing their drinks to each other, and looking like they were having such a good time.


We decided to call it a day and head home. We sat on my rooftop balcony for about an hour, directly in the sun. I could have fallen asleep right then. I think everyone could have. MY goodness I’m tired! And SO happy with my King’s Day. Happy Birthday, King!


A HUGE Pillow Fight in Amsterdam

We walked quickly across the city towards Dam Square. Amsterdam is a very bicycle friendly city, where bikes have the right of way. Pedestrians, on the other hand, are low on the priority list and you really risk life and limb navigating your way. We weaved in and out IMG_3686of the crowds of fellow pedestrians, dodged trams, cars, and bicycles, and finally found ourselves in the shadow of the National Monument. We and perhaps 1000 other people. Music radiated through the square, people were dressed in all kinds of costumes, chatting and laughing, and everyone, I mean everyone, had a pillow in hand.

The crowd enthusiastically counted backwards from ten. 10…9…8…People stretched their backs and arms, limbering up for the fight…7…6…5…grips tightened on pillow cases…4…3…2…1…GO! The fight began! Pillows were flying through the air, smacking people in the face and back. Before long, feathers had been freed from their cases, and were exploding into the sky. I almost drowned in down! People were stumbling out of the crowd, breathless, covered in feathers. Some had lost their pillow in the fight, others were lucky enough to still be holding on to, and flinging their downy weapon around. It was hilarious! The music was blaring, the sun was shining, and everyone was covered in feathers and laughing. And how could they not be laughing when the music is blaring, the sun is shining, they are covered in feathers, and they are in a pillow fight with 1000 other people, in the middle of Amsterdam?!


A cheesy day in Alkmaar, Netherlands

April, 2015

I woke up this morning at about 6:30am because the early bird catches the cheese! I rolled out of bed, grabbed an orange and a granola bar, put on clothes and head out the door. I met Rebecka, Line, Tine, and Fanny at Centraal station at 7:30. Phew it was early. It’s my own fault, it was my idea to meet this early. We caught the train and in no time, we arrived in Alkmaar! We were here to partake in the infamous Alkmaar cheese market. We wandered from the train station to the main square. On the way, we found ourselves caught up in a cluster of old people getting off a bus. They were slow moving and seemed to be creaking as they walked. We were able to outrun this gaggle of geezers and we reached the square. It was empty. I felt silly. First of all, I forced my friends to wake up SO early, and second, we dipped and ducked through that hoard of octogenarians like our lives depended on it, only to find there was no reason to rush. Line, Tine, and Fanny decided to go for a coffee, and Rebecka (bless her) and I stood in the front row, waiting for the show to begin.


It did and I couldn’t stop giggling. We were introduced to the Cheese Father, but I couldn’t figure out why he was called the Cheese Father, or what his significance was other than his orange top hat and silver cane. The 13kg wheels of gouda cheese were loaded onto cheese boards and run from the stacks to the weigh house, then back to the wagons. There were people walking around tasting, examining, and buying the cheese. img_4063

It was such a silly, hilarious event. Rebecka and I were even able to hold a wheel of cheese! We didn’t last for the entire show, because the tourists behind us were becoming very aggressive. One man kept using my shoulder to steady his camera. The woman next to me took around 300 photos. I was being pushed into the gate like I was at a rock concert. We snuck out of the crowd.


We went to the cheese museum next, so we could have a free piece of cheese, and learn a bit more about the cheese processes. After all the cheese-centric activities, the only thing missing was beer. We sat on a patio boat outside the beer museum, and enjoyed a nice, cold beer.

Today was brought to you by cheese! I just wrote “cheese” 13 times…14 if you include this sentence.


Sitting on an Ancient Patio in Ghent

We arrived in Ghent and instead of trying to figure our the tram system, we decided to walk to the hostel. It wasn’t too far. We wandered through the streets of this delightful little city, awe-inspired by the absurd number of castles we passed. The whole place is so picturesque.


We began our wandering. And wandering and wandering. We were quite tired, so stopped by the canal and relaxed for a little bit. We took a lovely slew of pictures and selfies. We awed again at the surroundings. Our panoramic view starting from the left included some beautiful canal buildings, next to an old canal bridge, next to more old, stone buildings, a clock tower, a cathedral, an abbey, another SUPER old canal bridge, and another cathedral. Wow.


You have all heard that saying, “when in Ghent, do as the Ghentians do,” right? So, we had waffles for dinner. They were delicious. Piled high, oh, so high with strawberries, drizzled with melted Nutella, and topped with just the perfect amount of whipped cream. Holy moly, how delicious was that?! I love waffles for dinner.


You know what I love almost as much as waffles for dinner? Candy for dessert. We bought a bag of typical Ghent candies called Cuberdons. They are little purple sugar cones, filled with goopy purple sugar liquid. Wow. We had one each and I felt a cavity grow in. The only thing I love more than waffles for dinner and candy for dessert, is beer for second dessert. We sat at a patio near a super old stone building, that has probably been there for 400 years, and asked our waitress which local beer she would recommend. She recommended to me, a dark beer, of which the name I can’t remember, but whose percentage was 10%. Rebecka had a blonde of normal people alcohol percentage. I warned the waitress that after one I was going to be drunk. She laughed. I wasn’t kidding.


We were a little drunk when we left the ancient patio. We wandered by a canal and our breath was taken! The wind had ceased and the water was almost perfectly still. We took about a million photos of the buildings and the water. We both had to pee, so we ducked into a little bar. When we emerged from the washroom, we realized it was actually a really cool place! We decided to stay here for a beer! The snacks on the board were all in Flemish, a language with which I am not very strong. We ordered the snacks that said ten of them came. I like ten of things. All of a sudden, two men began playing jazzy, bluesy music! One guy on a saxophone, and the other on a guitar. Wow! It was so wonderful. Rebecka and I were their biggest fans. No really, we were the only ones clapping the whole time. Soon, it was time to go back to the hostel. Home again, home again.