Saturday, May 05, 2007

Only in Amsterdam


Today is Liberation Day in Holland. The whole country was celebrating with hip music on three stages at Museumplein. My friend André who is the best host one can only dream of, took me to the park and we walked and watched the performances in bright sunshine. Afterward we went to the Amstel River to enjoy another concert with Amsterdam's own Metropole Orchestra. The temperatures plunged but we kept warm in the company of thousands who came to listen to the music and wave their flags when the Queen Beatrix arrived and sat on a floating platform across from the stage. When the concert was nearly over, Andre called me, "Rose, please hurry if you want to see the Queen". And I followed him though I didn't believe we could really get close enough to see her.

At the Opera House, we found her car with the AA license plates and sure enough she came by boat with the Prime Minister and Mayor of Amsterdam. She waved at the few gathered there and entered her car and was whisked away with the minimum of security . The Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, was about to leave when he decided to come our way and I immediately shook his hand. He asked the party next to me (in Dutch), "Was it worth your wait?" and they heartily said "ya".

Andre who is never short for words addressed him, "Mr. Prime Minister, I would like you to meet Rose Albar who is here all the way from California". You can imagine how stunned I was and I couldn't think what to say so I shook Mr. Balkenende's hand again.

What an exciting evening! After that we went to L'Opera at Rembrandtplein for drinks and talked all about our unexpected meeting with the Prime Minister. How incredible that I left my camera at home and my cellphone camera could only take a photo of silhouettes in the dark of night. Helaas, too bad!

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