March 2, 2019 – March 3, 2019
It’s been quiet some time since our last little getaway. As accountants, Tyler and I are usually hunkered down in our cubicles during the months of January and February. Since his “busy season” was particularly strenuous this year, we started out the year pretty slow with travels. I didn’t mind, however, because I was able to enjoy several amazing weekends in my favorite city, Amsterdam. I finally took advantage of my Museumkaart and visited several of the museums that had been on list: Van Gogh Museum, MOCO, Rijksmuseum, Museum Het Grachtenhuis, FOAM, Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, and Stedelijk Museum (ranked in order of most fave -> least fave). I’m also doing a yoga teacher training, and have been able to dedicate more time to studying since we have been traveling less. But now it’s almost springtime, and we’ve once again caught the travel bug.
For our first trip of the year, we didn’t go far. For the last three years, Tyler and I have gone to a different city for Carnival, which is basically the European version of Mardi Gras (without the beads). Everyone dresses up, there are parades, the beers are flowing, and it’s just a good time in general. This year, we decided to go to a location in the south of the Netherlands with 15 of our friends. We took a short 2.5 hour train ride Saturday morning to Maastricht and immediately got the party started.
Our crew was pretty solid on the costume front. We had an array of Mario characters, some unicorns, a pirate, Frida Kahlo, a performer, and a kind of clown-ish person. Our original plan was to get balloons and pretend we were Mario Kart, but the balloon store in Amsterdam told us that we couldn’t purchase 24 helium balloons because they were too lazy to blow them up.
We stayed at a hotel a little outside of the city center, were able to rent bikes to get to and from the parties.
Maastricht is a cute little Dutch city that I wish we would have had more time to explore. We wandered around the city for a little bit enjoying a few of the main squares and sites.
Our main mission for the weekend was the partake in carnival activities. The first of which, started on Saturday with the crowning of the Prince of Carnival. The prince is supposed to be an upstanding member of the city who is charged with kicking off the party. We showed up to this event and were the only people dressed in costumes, and the whole ceremony was kind of lame. In hindsight, we probably should have gotten to the city later for the night activities.
But we made the best of it, and when you’re dressed up with 14 others, you don’t feel so bad, so we set off for the bars. The whole day was basically spent on a pubcrawl of the city. By about 5pm, people started to show up in their costumes and we all got a second life.
The city was so alive and we saw many great costumes, as well as several other Marios. Some of the costumes were so intricate and beautifully crafted. You could tell that a lot of time was spent. It was also a very family friendly occasion, with many children present. They didn’t seem to care about all of the drunk people walking around.
We played games and danced the night away in true carnival fashion. The Dutch really do make it easy to drink. We could buy 10 beers for EUR 16 and they gave you a tray to carry the small beers to your friends. With the rotation of buying beers we had, basically anytime you were in need of a drink, one would magically appear! We all had a great time and everyone made it back with their bikes to the hotel for the evening.
On Sunday, we got a slow start, but made the most of the day. The parade started at 1:33pm and we made sure to make it to town to catch some of the action. I’d have to say that it was not the most exciting parade I have ever seen, but there were some cool floats. I enjoyed all of the Dutch music and the enthusiasm that the parade participants had.
After we’d had enough of the parade, we went back to the main square and just hung out there for a while checking out all of the crazy costumes. Sunday is when the real costumes came out. Because everyone had to work the next day, we ended up catching a train back to Amsterdam around 5, and had such a great time reliving the weekend.