Saturday, October 3, 2009

Rest Day

Today, October 3rd, is Leiden's independence day. In 1585 the Hollanders successfully expelled the Spanish troops of the Habsburg emperor Phillip II and established the Dutch Republic. In celebration of this accomplishment, the people of the Netherlands descend upon Leiden and, simply, party their asses off. 3 October, as they call it, really begins on the night of the 2nd. There are beer tents, stages, musicians, and vendors everywhere. The city is practically unrecognizable it has undergone such a transformation. The city center from the train station to the university is one big carnival, complete with ski ball, cotton candy, roller coasters, and traditional Dutch cuisine.
Since today was for resting, I went out and walked around, ate some unhealthy food, and tried to take in the scene as best I could. In an incredible coincidence, the theme of this year's 3 October parade is the "American Dream." Was interesting to see the Netherland interpretation of what it means to be American. The traditional symbols were there: the statue of liberty, the stars and stripes, even a few pilgrims. There were also some more contemporary floats, like the hollywood/entertainment portion. Somehow they found a couple Deloreons and did them up like Back to the Future, with Doc Brown and Marty walking alongside. There was a Titanic re-enactment with Kate and Leo on the front of the ship with a human iceberg walking just in front. Further back there was a Las Vegas float with magicians and slot machines. Bringing up the rear, in what I thought was a really cool finishing act, were members of the U.S. Marine Corps marching band in full uniform performing songs of Americana. Not sure what base they were from, but I thought it was cool that the city got them involved.
Anyways, I included a clip of maybe the scariest ride I've been on in my life. It cost 8 euros, but it was worth every bit of it. Apparently you're feeling just under 5 Gs of force during this thing. Crazy.

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