Saturday, January 01, 2005

Travel Notes 3


Everyone feeling good this morning? I must say my first New Year in the Netherlands was not what I expected. The Dutch celebrate New Year's by some getting drunk (just like home) and some watching a cheesy variety show on TV waiting for the countdown till midnight (just like home), but then at midnight the fireworks that have been exploding off-and-on all day and night really intensify. At midnight it sounded like every firework in the world was set off. When I looked out the front window I saw all the neighbors gathered on the street corner at the end of my sister's block so she and I put on our coats and went down to join the fun.

When we got there the Christmas tree we had put out to be picked up on trash day (which is Monday) was in the middle of the intersection and burnt to a crisp but still smoldering. Now I understood why the recycle bins and the post boxes had been locked yesterday. Blue smoke from hundreds of firecrackers and other fireworks hung in the air and was drifting into the side streets. When I stepped into the intersection and looked both ways I could see each street intersection had someone shooting off great numbers of fireworks. My sister described the noise as "sound confetti," the overlap of explosions was deafening. There were so many being shot off I could not jerk my head around fast enough to see all of them. There were rockets that exploded into green, red, yellow, or blue starburst. There were whistlers that streaked into the sky and popped loudly. There were roman candles that shot great balls of fire. There were children holding large sparklers. And there were the millions of firecrackers, some set off one by one and others set off in groups of hundreds. After a half-hour the neighborhood quieted down compared to the noise level at midnight but when we went to bed at 1:30AM fireworks were still being set off, just not in such great numbers.

Amsterdam knows how to celebrate the New Year. I hope your New Year's Eve was just as exciting.

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