Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Years Eve in Amsterdam - 2008-2009

New Years Eve in Amsterdam with Christy & Vegar

After our trip to Norway, Christy and Vegar came down to spend a few days in the Netherlands. They stayed in Rotterdam for a couple days, and then went up to Amsterdam to stay with their friend, Jurian. It was nice to have my sister visit, because it made this place feel more like home. :) Plus, we had an opportunity to go shopping for wedding dresses, and, wouldn't you know it… she actually found her dress! It was really fun to be there with her when she found it. We were so excited afterward that we had to keep ourselves from talking about it all night in front of the guys.

We had booked a hotel in Amsterdam for New Years eve, but other than that, we didn’t have any real plans. We weren't sure if we wanted to go to Dam Square, or Museumplein, or one of the other major squares, because they tend to get really crowded and crazy, much like Times Square. As things usually happen, everything worked out just perfectly. We went to Jurian's apartment to hang out, relax and have a few drinks. He was such a wonderful host that he even cooked us a pasta dinner, which we were not expecting.

A few minutes before midnight, we went outside and walked down the street to the local plaza area in Jurian's neighborhood. There was a good size crowd there, but it was not packed. So, we could comfortably stand around, and drink our beers. We had a couple bottles of champagne, too, so we popped the top on those. Even before 12:00, people had started to set off their own fireworks. For the next hour solid, there were flashes, cracks and booms all around us. People setting off fireworks from the ground, from balconies, and even from rooftops. And not everyone was shooting them straight up in the air, so people were literally ducking out of the way.

In the center of the square was a clear, paved area, so people would lay out long strips of sparklers and noise makers, or set up some of the large flaming volcano type of fireworks. Over the canal next to us, there were some larger proper fireworks. The alarms on the motorcycles and cars were going off all around us because of the loud blasts of some of the fireworks. People even set fireworks in the middle of the street, and cars and fire trucks were driving over them while they were on fire! What I'm trying to describe here is a scene where there is something going on literally all around you and above you. You always have to keep your head on a swivel, and watch your eyes. After most people had set off what they had, people started sweeping all of the leftovers and papers into piles and setting them on fire. They would also throw handfuls of whatever small noise makers or firecrackers they had left right into the fire.

Afterwards, we went back to Jurian's. He brought out a huge cheese tray with several types of cheeses, hummus, sausage, & crackers. The Dutch really know how to be good hosts! After seeing how everything actually happens on NYE in Amsterdam, we were glad that we did not go to one of the main squared. I can imagine a bit of chaos when people are shooting fireworks and bottle rockets into a crowd of thousands of people. The next day, as we walked through Dam Square, the aftermath of the night before was still all around. Trash and broken bottles were everywhere. Broken bikes were left locked to light posts, and cars were driving over broken glass in the road. Hardly anybody was out yet at 11:00. I would definitely go to Amsterdam again next year for New Years. It was an experience that is hard to find anywhere else.


More pics from New Years in AMS: