Saturday - and Queens Day at last.
Both Man and dog drifted awake - still glowing from the night before. Snuggled and spooned - listening to the sounds of a slowly building flood of people streaming from the station and down into the centre of Amsterdam; the dog nuzzling its Man's hand where it curled under its head, and snuggling backwards into the curve of His protecting body with a happy growl. Grinning and wriggling even more when it felt Him gently pull its collar aside kiss the neck protected beneath it.
His breathless growl: 'Mine!' - and the dog's passionate response: 'YOURS Sir - balls to bone!'
We decided to eat breakfast at the 'Peace and Love' cafe attached to the Hotel - which was a delightful 'help-yourself' cornucopia of homemade muesli, eggs and bacon, warmed rolls and freshly baked bread - all served by the friendliest couple you can imagine, and eaten whilst sat in the window so that we could watch the people stream by. i have never seen so many variations on the theme of 'Orange': although Cowboy hats and feather bowers seemed to be this years essential accessory, both Man and hound thought the young guys in their orange dungarees looked the best... ;)
Sir has been to Queens day for many years - and so He was already prepared with a full 'Queen's Day' outfit: orange polo shirt, orange combats and kerchief, all worn with His Slayers, Sam Browne and Confederate cap. He caused quite a stir - and had even the Dutch stopping to thank Him for getting so into the spirit of things! He had also thought of something to help the dog get into the theme - and gave it a smart pair of orange braces and a kerchief to wear with its leather jeans.
Feeling suitably dressed, we headed out into the crowds.
Queens Day in Amsterdam is *amazing*: think Gay Pride, Lord Mayor's Show, Royal Wedding and Carnival all rolled into one. The entire city turns orange as everyone comes together to celebrate their Pride in their Dutch heritage; it is also traditional that people sell their old unwanted items from the street in front of their apartments, and so every bridge and street corner becomes either a party venue or a bric-a-brac stall (complete with rusty old bicycles still chained to the railings!).
Best of all - the Dutch seem to know how to party without ever taking it to extremes: everyone drank and danced and got high - but it was all incredibly good natured and communally-spirited, and i didn't once see anyone aggressively drunk or unpleasant. i can't imagine the same happening here in the UK after a day of drinking...
The most fun is to be had on the canals, however: they become so thronged with everyone who owns a boat, or a dingy - or in fact *anything* that might float - that they have to turn the whole system one-way for the day. Every boat is packed with people - with most of the larger boats also having their own DJ and huge sound systems - and they spend the day cruising and partying, whilst everyone throngs the canal banks and watches and waves - and laughs at the frantically shouted 'DUCK!' every time they try to pass under one of the low bridges, for fear one of the dancing party-goers may lose their head or end up in the drink. There was also a wonderfully naughty time to be had, watching all the lads pissing over the side of the boats when they log-jammed underneath them... ;)
We spent a wonderfully relaxed day strolling around and enjoying both the celebrations and the wonderful weather: nosing through the bric-a-brac, fending off endless offers of orange juice and cup cakes, and indulgently stopping to pose for photos whenever we were asked. (Handler: I particularly remember the two very nice young men who picked some random old bag from the passing crowd - but she couldn't work out how to use their iPhone and ended up taking her own photo instead!! And then there was the nice family on the sofas just on the edge of the Jordaan, who were taking photos of all the couples they met - and the mother asking if we were American, so I laughed and told her that was the same as me asking *her* if she was German... :D ).
We stopped for a tea and cake at one of the Jordaan cafes - and enjoyed both the buzz and the friendly chatter with the other customers and the staff (including the girl on serving duty as she sneakily ate her way through most of the strawberries and cream, and tried to fend off the shops cat).
As the day got warmer, the pup took off its T-shirt and flashed off its tattoos; Handler said He had a great time then, watching everyone turn around after we passed - admiring the ink, or shocked at its extent! The ink on display then led us to be stopped by a very bouncy young dutch guy who persuaded me that i had to add something dutch to my ink, and that his two young nieces could offer just such a service for the day, and only for a mere 50c. How could i refuse?! i think i helped their trade - because i ended up with half the crowd taking photos as these two sweet kids tried to get the transfer to stick - whilst being thoroughly distracted by the work already there. i was very sweet - and told them that their tattooing was a lot less painful than a certain Ms. Harrison... ;))
We finally wandered over to the intersection and bridge outside the Cafe Rouge, were the guys at Mr B had organised their own street party. We had hoped to catch up with a few people there - but the crowds were so heavy that we had enough to do just to squeeze through with the pup in the front and Handler with His hand securely on its collar so that it didn't get lost. We did manage to briefly flirt with one of the guys from the shop however - the dog showing incredible interest in the beautifully sexy leather jeans that he was wearing: with a long asymmetric zipped fly from waistband to just above the knee...! (Handler: i seem to remember my dog talking about little else for the next 2 days!). We were also stopped several more times for photographs - including two *very* big straight muscle-guys who seemed very relaxed about being fondled by a leather clad pup and its Man... :)
But by this time it was getting late, so we started heading back to the hotel - by way of the main canal basin and the wonderful 'skinny bridges' (Handler: and chatted to the two girls who were studying to be flight-attendants - who were fascinated by both my dog's collar and his tattoos.). On the way, we also decided to hop on a boat tour - which was rather fun, despite the driver and guide laughing that it was possibly the *worst* day to see Amsterdam's canals, since the whole place is snarled up with party boats and craziness. Still, we got to see the Aida in dock, and we didn't get pissed on - and we were joined by an interesting family from one of the South American Dutch colonies - the mother of which spent most of the trip telling us how clever her grand-daughter was (she did speak 6 languages - and was only 8 years old!) - and how we were now her very best friends. Seems that fag-hags are a truly international phenomenon... :D