Queen’s Day fun in Amsterdam

Today is Queen’s Day in The Netherlands (Koninginnedag in Dutch), the day that celebrates the birthday of Queen Juliana, the current Queen’s mother.

As this day falls on a Sunday, the day of celebrations – flea markets and street parties everywhere – took place yesterday, the 29th. As has been the case in previous years, my wife Laura and I were out and about in Amsterdam with a group of friends enjoying the sights, sounds and atmosphere.

I took some 80 or so photos, all of which you can see in this Flickr set. Lots of other people took photos and there are some really great pics of the day and of the Friday evening when “Koninginnedag” really starts. Look under the Flickr tags: koninginnedag and amsterdam.

Weather-wise, it wasn’t a terribly good day to spend five hours wandering around, enjoyable though the day was. Pretty cold with a biting north-east wind keeping the temperature down in the low teens centigrade. But that didn’t put off the hundreds of thousands of people crowding Amsterdam in the areas we were in yesterday.

The flea markets at this year’s Queen’s Day had very tight control by the city authorities and police than I’ve seen in previous years. In our neighbourhood in the Oud-Zuid district, for instance, there was a ban on stands and display areas on both sides of most roads (one side only).

At one bar we stopped at, we noticed two fire brigade officials walking around inspecting the condition of the various open cooking stands. When you bought beer (Heineken only) in the many bars and drink stands in the city center, you got it in a plastic glass, as has always been the case. This year, the plastic glasses were prominently labelled by the Green Cup Foundation and the price you paid for your beer included a €1 deposit for the glass which you got back if you returned the glass. That would definitely help the litter problem and aid recycling objectives.

In all, we had a terrific day.

I did a little experiment last night – recorded a short audio-visual account of our day using Photo Story 3, the free Windows app from Microsoft that lets you make a story out of photographs.

Very simple, both the final video that the app produced as well as the process to do it. It illustrates that you can easily produce a story from static images, great for anyone who doesn’t have a video camera.

In all, it took about 15 minutes to do. Well, 30, as I did it twice. In the first one, I noticed that the audio was clipped at every photo transition. So in the second and final recording, I paused during the transitions which solved that problem.

As this blog is WordPress and it has the Podpress plugin, the other part of my little experiment is to make that video work directly in the blog with Podpress. It’s extremely easy to do. And note – Podpress isn’t only for audio (podcasts): it supports multiple video formats as well.

I’d thought about uploading this video to You Tube. But it’s in the .wmv format, not supported by You Tube.

Let me know what you think of the video.