Henk and Bea arrived on the Friday night before Koninginnedag to bring over our suitcases and bikes, so that we were almost moved in. We cooked them a tasty curry in return. Michel called us and invited us out for a quiet drink, so Henk and Bea were pleased to join us. We caught the tram into the Centrum and found our way through the crowd to the cafe he mentioned, on Brouwersgraacht. I don’t think that Henk and Bea were prepared for what we met, which was several streets absolutely packed with people, it was like being in a moshpit. There was a stage set up in the square with the band Rodgers playing covers of popular 80’s songs.
Only being able to contact Michel by SMS, we negotiated a meeting point and he led us through the close-packed crowd to their spot, not far from the stage. Then Kip and Michel went off to the cafe to get us some beers. They got back about 15 minutes later with a tray full of 250ml beers, one each. The disposable plastic glasses had a €1 deposit each! Needless to say a 250ml beer doesn’t last very long and 5 minutes later someone else made the hazardous journey to the bar. Meanwhile the Rodgers continued playing 80’s pop to the delight of the Dutch audience who were dancing eurostyle with big grins on their faces.
Now it was my turn to get some beers. Marjolein came with me, and the density of the crowd required a new tactic. Being large, I took the icebreaker role and pushed through the crowd with Marjolein in my slipstream. Marjolein advised that it is easier to get the beers inside so we did just that, emerging from the smoky den in 5 minutes with a tray of fresh beers and a few extras. This is where the real challenge presented itself: how do we get 10 beers 50 metres through a crowd that had no possible pathways? The answer was of course a modified icebreaker technique.
I led the way, holding two beers up at head height in front of me, Marjolein behind doing the same with the tray. I kept saying a pre-emptive “Sorry!” in a loud voice (this is not rude at all in NL) and we were bale to get about 70% of the beer to the group. My jacket and forearms were a bit sticky afterwards.
Henk and Bea made their apologies and went home at this point, and not long later we also moved on. The girls had to break the seal so Michel and I found a place to chat during the girls’ 35 minute queueing experience. Their work done, the girls joined us on a walk through the city, passing other hubs of activity where different cafes had entertainment (and outside beer taps).
We got to Amsterdam Centraal in about 15 minutes and decided to cab it. The <10 minute cab ride back to Watergraafsmeer cost almost €20! Mental Note: no more cabs.
Michel and Marjolein stayed with us, christening their beds and being our first house guests. We all got to bed at around 3am, M&M glad that they didn’t have to get up at 6:30 with Kip and I.