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Archive for the ‘Parties’ Category

This weekend was Wouter’s grandmother’s 92nd birthday. We celebrated with his mother’s whole family. She was one of 8 children so, as you can imagine, the party filled an entire hall– certainly, including children, the party topped 80! It was heel gezellig, although I had a little trouble remembering all the names!

Alpaca at the kinderboerderij

Next to the party hall was a kinderboerderij or “children’s farm.” These petting zoos are very common throughout the Netherlands and usually include chickens, turkeys, sheep and other barnyard animals. I was very excited to see that this kinderboerderij had two alpaca! After the party, Wouter joined me to check them out.

Wouter meets the alpaca

Wouter: “What’s the difference between an alpaca and a llama?”
Jennifer: “Well, people raise alpaca for their fiber. They are smaller and more of a herd animal than llamas.”
Wouter: “Do they spit?”
Jennifer: “Well, I guess we’ll find out.”

And fast-forward 5 minutes…

Wouter get's spit on by the alpaca

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Last Friday the 30th was Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day), the Dutch national day. It is celebrated every year in honor of the queen’s birthday… well, actually the queen’s mother’s birthday. One the first acts of the current queen, Beatrix, when she was crowned was to declare that Koninginnedag would remain on April 30th to honor her mother. But really I think it was strategic– you’re more likely to have nice weather at the end of April than in the middle of January, on Beatrix’s birthday.

The centerpiece of the Koninginnedag experience is the Vrijmarkt, a nationwide garage sale. On this one day of the year, you don’t need a permit to sell things, so people flock to the streets to sell their old junk. I find this to be totally weird– to celebrate the queen by trying to get rid of old children’s toys, clothing and vhs tapes. But people are crazy about it– heading out days ahead of time with chalk and tape to mark off their space on the sidewalks. And those vying for primo real estate even camp out the night before to be certain that no one steals their spot.  And great effort is made to get the kids out there selling so they can get some extra pocket money– centrally located parks and streets in Amsterdam are set aside for the kids. Our downstairs neighbor’s daughter made 90 Euro selling cake! Now that’s some serious pocket money!

Apart from the Vrijmarkt, the day is just one big street party. Everyone dons some orange and hits the streets for shopping, eating, drinking(, smoking), and general merriment. This year Wouter and I, along with his brother, sister-in-law and another good friend, hit the canals on a party boat with a group of about 60. This thing was massive, built to hold 100, complete with many kegs of beer, crates of wine, small snacks, a DJ and two toilets (OMG, thank goodness!). We toured the main canals of Amsterdam, blasting dance music and generally making a spectacle of ourselves. I cannot imagine a better way to spend Queen’s Day!

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Flickr Koninginnedag 2010 photoset.

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