Trip to Amsterdam and Queensday

Monday, April 30 is designated to national holiday called Queensday. The whole country goes nuts, everybody dress in orange, drink and enjoy themselves. I used the long weekend to visit my friend in Amsterdam and spend the Queensday there.

I AmsterdamI Amsterdam, source: my picture

I was in Amsterdam in July 2008, but to be honest, I do not remember much. I made a lot of pictures, because I had my camera for a short time and was really excited. I don't remember any more, where we stayed, just that the weather was not so good and I liked the bridges and canals in the city. That was 4 years ago, now I have been in the Netherlands since September 2011 (I went back to the Czech Republic three times) and I haven't been in Amsterdam. I postponed my visit until Katka (my fellow student from Charles University) went there for Erasmus exchange so I have a place to stay, a guide but mostly someone to walk thought the city and spend the time with. I planned my visit for long weekend including the Queensday. In 2012 it's celebrated on Monday, April 30. So let's go to Amsterdam!

Saturday – from Maastricht to Amsterdam

I took a direct train from Maastricht at 7:26 and arrived to Amsterdam at 9:48. I went directly to my friend with a tram to leave my stuff there and then returned back to the city for geocaching. I wanted to use the time and the advantage of a free travelling. Funny thing is, that the only place I really remember from my last visit in 2008 was the train station and the Czech pub. The rest was like yeah, I was there but my memories were not that specific. Like sometimes you have just an impression and sometimes you really remember places. I wanted to remember more places this time Smiley :)

Amsterdam sightseeing

AmsterdamAmsterdam, source: my picture

Amsterdam was full of tourists and I met a lot of Czech and Slovak people during my sightseeing. You just walk and suddenly you can hear somebody talking your mother tongue. Some areas of the city are so crowded that you want to get out of there. Well, Amsterdam is the biggest city of the Netherlands, but still has "only" about 750 000 inhabitants. I do not know how many tourist there are, but firstly it's definitely the most visited place in the Netherland and for the Queensday a lot of people from the whole country are coming here. After several months spent in quiet Maastricht, I can feel the difference. But I still like Amsterdam. I wanted to go there for my exchange semester, but my friend had better GPA so I ended up in Maastricht. The two cities are completely different, but I like when the city lives also in the night and that's the case of Amsterdam. On the other hand, I feel more safe in Maastricht.

The weather was not that good it rained there and there a bit. I just walked though the city trying to find some geocaches and discover some unknown places. I also passed the red light district, but during the day the view is not my piece of cake. I wanted to see also other parts than just the city centre, so I took the subway to get a bit farer. The subway also leaves the underground and rides on the surface, like some lines of U-Bahn in the Germany. In Prague the subway is much nicer. But to get back to my sight-seeing, I discovered some sky-scapers Smiley :) Then it started to rain and I came back to my friend's place where our friend Luboš also came for the weekend. After some dinner we went to the city to see the night picture of Amsterdam.

As I said before, Amsterdam lives all day long. A lot of pubs and shops in Amsterdam have neon lights to attract customers, on the streets there are old-fashioned lamps and both together makes the city shine. In the centre, there was a fair with a small Rollercoaster, big wheel and some pendulum for adrenaline-lovers. We walked thought the city a bit and ended up in a Czech and Slovak pub and had Czech bier Smiley :) Well, the prices are Dutch, but that was kind of expected. 5€ for half a litre of Budveiser from a tap and 3,5€ for 0,33l bottle of Pilsner Urquell. On our way back we also took a look at some ladies in the red district. They use the effect of black light so their underwear shines and there was more to catch our eyes than in the morning. The problem is, that you do not feel at ease while surrounded people hanging out there so you want to get out quickly.

Sunday

Flower in park in AmsterdamFlower in park in Amsterdam, source: my picture

We woke up around 9 a.m., had a breakfast and went to town by foot at around 10 a.m. The guesthouse was quite even at this late morning, we were probably the first one to leave the place. Ok, it was Sunday, but I would expect a bit more life at that time. It was a bit cloudy, but no rain. I was looking forward to see the city with the tour-guide Smiley :) We walk the same way Kate use to get to school and until we got near the city centre, we met just a few people. The city was quite sleepy Smiley :D

Our first target on Sunday was the University of Amsterdam. We were curious how Kate's school looks like. As it was Sunday and before Queendsday, we could not get in, but it must be interesting sitting under the water level and looking at the canal next to you. Then I showed them the place with defined zero-water-level. Nice, that Geocaching took me to place unknown to local people Smiley :) We continued through the city, passing canals to the huge park with flowers. City was getting more crowded as the midday passed. We walked, talked and enjoyed the atmosphere of the city. It's said that this is the most international and multi-cultural city, as people from over 160 countries are living here. Might be true, more than Dutch you could hear English spoken in the streets, but we could experience the same thing as in every tourist-targeted city. You are in the middle of a crowd, than turn to the side street and after a while you can enjoy the city in a more quiet and pleasant way. We especially enjoyed part with large houses from about 18th and 19th century, when we were comparing them and seeking our place to live at.

Bier boatBier boat, source: my picture

As every tourist, you want to see some headlights of the city, at least you wonder if all the fuss around is reasonable and also to take a picture at such place to be cool. One such place is a art museum, with small lake, park and "I amsterdam" sign Smiley :) Oh boy, so many people and they just climb up the letters and sit there for ever! Well, sometimes the reason is, that they could climb up but are unable to get down Smiley :D Anyway, I also have a picture with this sign and we continued to back to city centre to see the historical part with all the old, narrow and skewed houses from 17th century and canals with boats on it. To see the whole city, Kate took us to the library. Why library? Well, the library building has a cafe on the top floor with a nice view. Library is next to the train station meaning you are not in the middle of the city, but it does matter much you can still enjoy the view. Usually, it's also possible to go on the roof on the science centre next to the library and sit there, but today it was not possible due to long weekend. Well, we saved something for the next time Smiley :)

We then walked home to have some rest and dinner before going back to the city in the night. This time were all places full of people, streets were crowded, so we just bought a bottle of wine and let the night city to do the rest. It was very pleasant to have such a relaxing time after a long day. This time we weren't tourists eager to see every monument and statue in the city, but we were part of it.

Monday – Queensday

Queensday on canalsQueensday on canals, source: my picture

We woke up at around 10 a. m., sun was shining and it seemed like we would finally have a really nice day without rain. We had a small breakfast, made a sandwich and then went to the city – by foot. I made a small mistake – I took my sweatshirt and jacket with me. After about a half hour later I tried to put both of them into my backpack – and I managed. Well, Queensday is a day when the whole Netherlands goes wild and you can see orange colour everywhere. People have also orange hats, feather chains around their necks, they paint the flag of the Netherlands on their faces. As we were walking to the city centre, sun was shining more and more and we could also meet more people wearing orange colours. Even bus drivers were wearing orange hats and some taxi drivers decorated theirs cars with orange. I liked it. It remembered me Carnival in Maastricht. But this time the music around was a bit different – not only the old Dutch music but also a new pop hits. Anyway, we first took a ferry to cross the bay, found another "I amsterdam" sign and say very quiet part of Amsterdam, then we went back to the city where all the crowds were present for the Queensday.

Queensday on streetsQueensday on streets, source: my picture

Every city in the Netherlands turns to a big flea market on Queensday as a lot of people sell various kinds of goods on the streets. The same was in Amsterdam that turned into a gigantic flea market. One can also buy drinks and home-made brownies, pies or cookies Smiley :) If you add to the regular tourists a lot of Dutch people going to Amsterdam only for this day, you get completely over crowded streets along the canals and canals full of boats playing various music and people dancing on them. People are drinking and eating and the streets get messy. They also stopped traffic in the city centre and made some changes to the other public transport lines. Police officers in the streets were mostly located on the most crowded places probably to keep drunken people under control, but I didn't see any incident.

We walked through the crowd along a canal; our average speed was like 1 km/h. Sun was shining since morning so it was also getting quite warm. After about an hour spend squeezed between the people, we took a side street, sat next to a canal and opened our lunch boxes. I was glad for that moment of rest. We decided to leave the centre and tried the big park, but even there one could not find a place to sit. Woah, sooo many people weren't in my expectations at all. The city was just too small for that amount of people. And they were not only on the streets, but also all the canals were full of boats with dancing and singing people. Everybody was wearing something of orange colour and the atmosphere was there even if there was not much space left. I think the most fun had people sitting in the windows above all the crowds.

Amsterdam – Maastricht

I took a train from Amsterdam at 22:08, so I had some time in case the train didn't go or something happened. Everybody was leaving Amsterdam in the evening. The train went over Utrecht so there were a lot of people on the train who went just there. Among them were three girls that sat next to me – students. We talk a bit about the Queensday and how I like the Netherlands. It was really nice and it's a bit pity that they left the train so soon. Actually, one of them was from Maastricht Smiley :) They were quite surprised that I was travelling to Maastricht right then. Reason? It takes 2,5 hours Smiley :D It was explained to me, that according to the Dutch standards it's a loooong time. Well, I do not mind and it's the price for travelling. I also pleased them by wearing an orange T-shirt and a hoodie with orange text "Maastricht University" Smiley :) When I think about it, I like orange colour, I should wear it more often.

The next fellow travellers made me a company again for one stop; from Utrecht to s'Hertogenbosch. This time they were high-school students from some small town near Breda. They were again curious about me, since they spoke to me and I asked them to speak English as I do not understand Dutch. They have been to the Czech Republic and really enjoyed it. They even went there for skiing! Who would do that? I mean there are better places to go. They again considered Maastricht to be far away Smiley :D Come on, guys! After s'Hertogenbosch the train became a bit empty, but who would expect full train just before midnight? I had to change the train in Eindhoven. I took the first one, which was some stop train with drunk teenagers in it. Better empty train than this.

When I came to Maastricht, streets were wet and it was also raining a bit. I got home and went almost directly to bed, as I was tired and had sunburn. Who would expect such sunny day here in Netherlands at this time of the year? Anyway, the trip to Amsterdam was great and Queensday was incredible experience. I should come back sometime with a bunch of friends, hire a boat and rock it!

Article last edited 26. 7. 2012, viewed: 984-times.
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labels Labels:Amsterdam, Beer, Celebration, Czech people, Historical place, music, Pretty Girls, Pub, Queensday, Sightseening, Train
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