Monday, May 12, 2008


It's the world's largest sidewalk sale and Amsterdam's biggest party all rolled into one: Queen's Day, held every year on April 30
th, which fell on a Wednesday this year.

We made furtive preparations: Assembling an entire wardrobe of orange clothes (the national color), setting aside various household goods to sell (including the beautiful black artificial Christmas tree that Mrs. Pressler refused to display beyond its inaugural season), and planning social outings for the day with friends.

Mr. Pressler started the party with a night out on Queen's Day eve, a night that could be a holiday in and of itself. But the late night didn't prevent him from joining the Mrs. on an early morning Queen's Day run, where we saw the city getting ready for the onslaught of visitors. The weather would prove to be a bit cool, but the rain held off.

Later in the morning, we strolled through Vondelpark for a couple of hours with friends. Every road and path was packed to the hilt with people selling everything you could imagine...mostly household stuff that you'd find at a garage sale. The kids wanted to buy other kids old toys (translation: junk), but luckily we made it through the park only buying snacks and playing games.

After lunch, Maya & Cole set up their stand in the park to sell a few of their paintings (space opened because some people seemed to leave after around noon). Maya had a bunch of paintings she had created on canvas, and Cole didn’t want to be left out, so he threw some paint onto paper. They put prices onto each piece ranging from 1 to 3 Euro. We told them their prices might be a bit high, but the young entrepreneur spirit ruled the day. People were very sweet, asking the price, and after the first shocked reaction Maya received to the 3 Euro price tag, she immediately dropped the price to 20 cents and made her first sale. After a couple hours hanging out in the park and selling the art, they each had enough money to buy gelato.

Later in the day, we decided to venture closer to the center of the city, wandering the area near Museumplein with friends to take in the action...err, human spectacle. Crushing crowds turned us around pretty quickly so we could escape the chaos. We wandered past a fire station that was giving the public rides up to the top of their fire truck ladder on a hydraulic lift – no joke, higher than ANY building in Amsterdam. So of course, we paid our one Euro/person for a ride. We told the fireman that you would never see something like this in the US due to the liability and safety concerns. He laughed and told us they aren’t actually allowed to do it here either – some years the police shut them down, and some years they allow it…. Depending upon who is working. NICE. Needless to say, my kids loved it and the view was spectacular.

We ended the day in front of our house, relaxing and sharing some wine with friends. Our corner was packed with people who had come to enjoy live musical entertainment provided by one of the restaurants. Kids played in the streets, people were dancing and drinking, and it was very festive and fun. When the band shut down around 7pm, with enough wine granting some courage, Mr. Pressler decided to go up to our balcony and plug in his guitar in a (very sad) attempt to entertain the crowd. Unfortunately the amp wasn’t working very well, and after capturing their attention with the first few cords, they lost interest since they couldn’t really hear him. But it was very entertaining and offered many laughs to our friends and family. The crowd cleared out by 8pm since the music entertainment was done, which was also great since we had an early flight to catch to Stockholm.

HERE is a link to our Queen's Day photos.

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