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Friday, 8 May 2009

My European Escapades- New Years in Amsterdam

I've got to a point in my life where I'm restless from not doing anything. It's the first time ever that I've not been working or studying. I need some adventure. And since it's not physically possible right now, then I am going to relive my adventures in Europe, where I spent two years on a working-holiday visa. I will begin with my experience of New Years Eve in Amsterdam, which was actually the very end of my journey, but is one of the most colourful and memorable nights of my life.

New Years Eve in Amsterdam. Who knew how chaotic, crazy and surprisingly dangerous the usually mellow, unruffled city would be. The cobbled streets were now packed with thousands of people from all walks of life, gathering for the countdown in Dam Square. We needed eyes in the back and sides of our heads. My bag was clutched protectively in my hands for fear of it going walkabout. Shane looked frazzled as he felt many dismembered hands patting him down in search for a wallet, coins, or anything of value. There were so many people it was impossible to tell if it was the old lady in front or the backpackers next to us that were feeling us up. My cold came in handy as I shoved snotty, germ filled tissues in all of our pockets to deter or punish the would-be thieves.

I took my hat off- it was surprisingly warm for mid-winter. As we walked a group of boys tried to yank the hat from my hand. I held on for dear life, which sent me reeling head-first into a nearby pole. My eyes watered as the lump emerged on my forehead, but we kept walking, leaving the boys laughing raucously behind us.

Suddenly the crowd in front of us parted. We had to be quick to dodge the fireworks the gypsy children dropped. Were we to lose an eye or ear tonight? Hisses, bangs and squeals were heard all around the city from the hundreds of fireworks constantly being let off. Pedestrians were in an endless battle with trams, cars and bike riders for walking space. People walked furtively past us, muttering under their breath: “Cocaine? Heroin? Ecstasy?” Junkies followed us begging for money. Shane walked with his eyes to the ground, but I couldn’t keep from staring at the assortment of people around us. This was a place where ravers, families, stoners, tourists, sex workers, bikies, drunks, gypsies, punks, backpackers and locals could all party together without fear of persecution.

Dam Square was more crowded than the surrounding streets and canals. We found a spot in the middle and clung to each other for fear of being lost in the sea of people. Midnight came, along with the countdown. I prepared myself to hum Auld Lang Syne but was met with an unfamiliar Dutch song. I craned my neck skywards, waiting for the spectacular display of fireworks. Nothing, just the incessant squeals and bangs of fireworks in the crowd. More raucous singing and laughter, and then the crowd slowly dispersed. Shane and I allowed ourselves to be pushed along until we found ourselves by our bus, the rest of our group waiting.

I could tell Shane was disappointed, but I found it hard to be. It had been nothing like I had expected or was used to. But I guess if it were, I would have been let down. Who wants to be on the other side of the world and experience the same thing? Pick-pockets, druggies, near-deafness and a swollen forehead. It was all part of an unforgettable New Years Eve in Amsterdam.


Rowe said...

Hi Mel, I'm just over from mamamia post about changes to her blog, clicked your name and tada, hehe. Gosh, Amsterdam on NYE sounds like an experience and a half, but like you say, you don't want to go to the other side of the world and feel like you could be at home. Also, checked out your blogroll, you are a fan of Maggie Alderson? I love reading maggie in the SMH Good Weekend mag which I don't always buy, did not know she had a blog as i've just recently began trawling my way through the land of blog. I'm so pleased to know I can now keep up with maggie via her blog. Enjoyed this post of yours, please drop by my blog one day if you get a chance, back to mama's comments for now. Cheers.

Bells said...

amazing. It's a place I'd really, really love to go. What a great night out.

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