Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Queens Day 2011

Or Koninginnedag to the Dutchies. On an annual basis the whole of The Netherlands and it's 16 Million Oranjes celebrate the Birthday of their Queen; Beatrix. The Dutch take it so seriously in fact they have a national holiday it's just unfortunate this year it fell on a Saturday and I didn't get my additional day off! :(

Let me tell you to set the tone, the Dutch do not celebrate this event lightly. They absolutely go all out, 100% and give it their all. All Friday night, all day Saturday and for those sick enough...all day Sunday too!

This year I decided to spend Queens Day with some colleagues in The Jordaan, one of the more affluent and high end areas of Amsterdam. Full of pretty ladies ;)

The Jordaan w/ Queens Day Madness

To start the day I had a hard time with the mongo Italian C Claps. He can be extremely anti-social at times..after some tug and war of pros and cons of going he finally decided to come. After few smokies to start the day we head off at around mid day to meet the guys from work in The Jordaan.

I hooked up with some of the guys from team and the North Asia market service team, who without getting too emotional are some pretty great people..

Myself and the Claps hooked up with Mr. Peters (David), Ulksy (Ulrika) Kat (Katarina) Lidia (Katarina's Sister) and Harrison (Peter J Harrison). We pretty much began drinking straight away at a bar round the corner from the Westerkerk and noticed the Dutch had come up with an ingenious (money making of course) scheme for mass public alcohol consumption by supplying "re-fillable" cups. All vendors sign to the same deal and a company supplies them with plastic cups branded with an Amsterdam City Slogan on it. These cups are 1 Euro each - on top of the price of the drink. You can then carry the cup around with you..walking the city, re-felling at the watering holes along the way with your glass deposit. Or you could act like we did; have one person collect the cups and take turns. It turns out that person gets bored of holding the cups and all four of our appointed cup carriers lost the stash and we had to start from scratch paying the extra one euro per drink. The vendors were sending spare employees throughout the city like science fiction drug runners saerching for these discarded gold leaves to take back to their premise and re-distribute for that additional 1 Euro all over again. Fantastic yet awful at the very same time.

Let me set the tone here; I've never seen a party on this scale before...it wasnt only a street party but a City Party! Every single street, every single bridge in Amsterdam has party go'ers and is full, absolutely jam packed full of people, not far from a carnival. The city literally turns orange. I partied last year on Queens Eve and missed the actual day itself. Queens day was simply absolute madness without even mentioning the public bathroom situation.

We drank, we smoked, we laughed, we danced, and we partied. It was truly a great day; fun was definitely had by all.

Taking a breather - from left to right: Ulrika Quaison, Lidia Bekavac, David Peeters, Claudio Claps, Katarina Bekavac and Peter J Harrison

Looking at this photo now however makes me feel sad. I apologise now If I get philosophical but the company we all work for (except Lidia) is going through a major reorganisation and as a Supply Team - My team Asia will be reduced from 14 people down to 8. Writing this I'm feeling surprisingly emotional and I guess upset is the only way to describe it. The company we work for has a cash flow of almost £1 Billion pounds and is growing at double digit figures and yet somehow, it's not enough...

Peter and Ulrika in the photograph are directly affected and will cease to be my direct colleage as of 1st September this year when the reorganisation goes into full effect. Ulrika has reapplied for one of the new roles posted in Amsterdam however I understand Peter has not. I'll come back to these two individuals in a later post Im sure. They're incredible human beings.

Claudio shares the same job role as Ulrika however it's his heart that has carrier him away from the business; ironically it was the busienss that helped capture his heart. He met a woman, through work, a daily contact of his based in Singapore. She flew to Amsterdam for work related purposes as she'd just had a promotion that put her into more direct contact with Amsterdam. She stayed for two weeks and by the time she left his mind was made up. He was resigning from Diageo and going after her. Without a bead of sweat shedded in hesitation or contemplation. He is away. I will lose a roomate, a colleague and worst of all; A friend. I'll come back to Claudio at some point too, I'd put him in my top 10 human beings of all time.

With inevitable change as this, I fully understand it is human nature to fear change. Comfort and stability are two of a human beings most important conscious and subsconcious needs. However I will truely miss my colleagues; not just Ulrika, Peter and Claudio but my fellow team members certain to soon leave our team; Rianne, Chris and Kitty. With this post I wish you all the best of luck with your future endeavours; "Follow your heart if not your dreams".

Anyway, let's brighten up this post, it was about 9pm and we were all very tired and quite hungry. We decided to go to a Chinese Restaurant after much deliberation with Ulrika almost insisting we find her vegetarian suriname food as she hadn't really eaten any of the greasy delights on offer on the streets of Amsterdam during Queens Day celebrations. Not quite sure on the name of the restaurant but it's the one at the bottom of the Red Light District; if you head along past Madam Tusards at Dam Square to your right and keep walking for about 300 metres you're there. We dined, drank some more, chatted, made rude and subversive comments about one and other in jest and once again had a great time.

We took a coffee in the restaurant paid the bill and took off into the darkness. With everyone full of rice and exhausted from a days dancing, walking, pushing through crowds of people and drinking copious amounts of alcohol we decided home was the best direction. We stopped at a Coffeeshop near the Westermaarkt and sat together for a final 30 minutes before parting ways. Me, Claudio and David walked to an Avondwinkel or an evening shop and filled up on munchy food, when we walked outside arms full of junk to meet Peter as he was served before us we found that he had fucked off and gone home without us. Literally jumped on the tram without telling any of us. With that note on Irishmen I sign off and thank anyone who has read for reading. Hope I didnt bore you too much.

Last but not least; Me and Claudio stayed up until 5am smoking huge joints. I really need to grow up soon.