One of the best things about travelling for me, and I assume many others, is the opportunity to learn about and mix with people from all over the globe.
It’s a great way to immerse yourself in new cultures, meet people you’d never have an opportunity to meet and also dispel some common stereotypes. For example from my experience; not every German gets up at 5am to reserve sun loungers, not every Dutch person smokes weed and eats pancakes, and not every American is fat and loud.
A common feature of mixing with new cultures is the opportunity to discover and take part in traditions unique to certain countries. There seems to be something about travelling that turns even the most reserved people into huge patriots when their special day comes around.
As an Englishman, this is something of a novelty to me. In my lifetime, I can’t remember ever celebrating St George’s Day. There’s no real reason for this, it just doesn’t seem to be the done thing. There’s something of a belief amongst a number of people who celebrate St George’s Day that by doing so they are perceived as racist, which I don’t think is the case. It would be nice to see more of a celebration for this day.
Bizarrely enough, I have visited Dublin on a number of occasions for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations which is an absolute blast. It seems strange to celebrate the Irish day more than the English one, but it’s just so much fun. It’s great to hop from bar to bar, hear live music all day and night and mix with people who I’d class as some of the happiest and most welcoming I’ve ever met. The fact I’m an absolute sap for a girl with an Irish accent might also have something to do with it.
Whilst on my travels, however, I have been exposed to a couple of celebrations that I was less aware of. I have already blogged about the crazy Songkran festival in Thailand, where the whole country is turned into a watery, clay-filled mess. In Cairns last year though, I took part in a whole different celebration.
It turned out that it was “Queen’s Day” – a celebration which marked the date of birth of the Dutch Queen Beatrix. Since Queen Beatrix stepped down from the throne in 2013 in favour of her son Willem-Alexander, the day is now known (rather unsurprisingly) as “King’s Day”.
What followed was a crazy day of people drinking goon, wearing orange, spraying each other with lots of water and partying until the early hours (or until they passed out). Just how accurate a representation of Queen’s/King’s Day this was – I have no idea and in all honesty it’s rather sketchy in my mind from around mid-afternoon onwards.
Judging by KLM’s very own party in the video below, I don’t think we were too far wide of the mark. Sure; we were in a hostel in Cairns and not on a boat in Amsterdam, we were drinking cheap boxed wine instead of Heineken and we had to make do with an iPod instead of a set from Armin van Buuren…but you get my drift!
Now I’m under no illusions that every King’s Day party is like the one above, but it sure looks like a lot of fun. For me, the atmosphere and buzz of Dublin on St Patrick’s Day is a feeling I’ll never forget – same for Songkran in Bangkok. I get the impression that Amsterdam on King’s Day would be somewhat similar, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it make its way onto my bucket list before too long.
Post sponsored by KLM.