Leiden Under Siege!

Trip Start Aug 17, 2009
Trip End Jul 20, 2010

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Flag of Netherlands  , Zuid-Holland,
Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dear lord! This town is nuts!  Okay, we were warned that things during "Leiden Onzet," or “Leiden under Siege,” would be crazy, so we thought we were prepared.  I think we all thought 'okay, New Years eve crazy,' probably even Super Bowl win crazy, we did not expect 2 days of chaos, mayhem, and foolishness!

By Thursday afternoon we knew this was going to be a little bit bigger than we all originally thought, because in the square across the canal from the LLC a carnival went up in about 18 hours.  I went to bed Tuesday night, and literally woke up to a carnival almost completely set up.  Roller coaster, carnival rides, carnival games, and everything.  Hint #2 was Thursday night.  Usually Thursday is the big “party” night in Leiden, because it’s student night at all the bars.  But last Thursday was very calm and very quiet, clearly everyone was resting up.  Well, the October 3rd party kicks off about 1 pm on Friday October 2nd.  We were all still in our rooms trying to get some work done beforehand, so none of us got out until 7pm.  One of the Webster locals has an apartment that overlooks the main square, and he threw a pre-party, so we all went over there, where we had fantastic views of the Friday night parade, as well as the mass of humanity that was filling the square.  There was some dancing, drinking, and a general good time.  About 11:30 several of us decided to head out to brave the masses and experience the party outside.  Kit wanted to go dancing “with his people” (aka a gay bar), so Luz and I agreed to accompany him over for a bit.  On the way however, we made a stop for Oliebollin.  Oliebollin are like donuts, but about 1000%-times better!!  Deep fried balls of dough rolled in powdered sugar, all hot and sweet.  YUM!!!  They come in various flavors, regular, raisin, apple, etc. etc. but we all stuck with the regular.  So good!

After getting covered in powdered sugar and having to brush each other off, we continued our walk to the bar.  On the way, incident #1 of people peeing in the canals (eww, eww ,eeeewww!).  Now I know why no one swims in them.  Continuing our walk we went past/through several canal side parties that had spilled out from the bars. At the gay bar they were having a very good time, so we joined in the dancing foolishness.  Lots of dancing and then some very bad singing by the Dutch American Idol winner (at least that’s what I think one of the locals told us).  By 1 pm Luz and I were exhausted, so we wondered back home.  Picking up oliebollin # 2 on the way ;-) and then right outside our building experienced incident #2 of someone peeing in the canal (seriously people, what did the canal ever do to you?)  I got back to my room about 1:30/1:45 and crawled into bed to the sounds of the carnival continuing outside.

Saturday we all got up and went over to watch the big parade.  The parade got off to a bit of slow start, but picked up and was really very fun.  The theme was “American Dreams” so everyone went crazy with the Americana.  We had American Idol (with a drag queen Paula Abdul), and High School Musical, Indians, Cowboys, Vegas with dancers, gospel, movies.  There were also several marching bands and lots of horses.  I have a ton of pics and videos, so enjoy (although I do apologize for the sound).

After the parade and a lunch of Turkish Pizza (it’s a Dutch thing) we headed over to check out more of the carnival.  Basically we just wandered around the town and soaked up the atmosphere.  Grabbed oliebollin #3.  Found a bar, got beers, danced on the street with the locals, wandered some more, danced through a few more bars whose parties were out on the streets.  Ate oliebollin #4.

About 5pm we returned to the LLC to take naps and rest up for the night and then went back out about 9:30 and headed over to the carnival, where several people rode the craziest looking carnival ride I’ve seen in a while.  Nicole lost her glasses, Sahara lost her room key, and poor Rebecca lost her dinner.  After the ride we headed back to the bar, met up with some other Webster students (non-globals) and hung out for about an hour.  At 11pm Nicole, Sahara, Luz and I headed for the pier to see the fireworks.  Well, don’t you know, it started pouring on the way over.  We got so wet and cold!  Nicole turned back, but Sahara, Luz and I continued on, and got to the piers just as the fireworks were starting.  We then huddled under my umbrella to watch all the fireworks.  Very fun!

After fireworks we returned to the gay bar to pick up Kit and stayed for a while to listen and dance to the Dutch drag queen, who was actually pretty good, I was surprised.  After “her” performance and with Kit not yet ready to leave, Sahara, Luz and I decided we had had enough of the craziness.  So we headed back to our rooms, via the carnival with the hopes of finding Sahara’s keys.  Thankfully the keys had been found, and we also found a 50-euro bill under the platform for the ride.  So Sahara, being the smallest one crawled under and grabbed it (I don’t even want to think about what she crawled through!).  Afterwards we headed for the LLC, stopping for Thai egg rolls (although I think they were more meat rolls) and ended up in a street party from one of the bars.  There was also a desperate search for one last oliebollin, but all the stands were closed.  :-(

We got back to the LLC a little before 1, contemplated just changing clothes (because we were so wet and cold) and heading back out with our TA and his friends, whom we met up with when we got back to the building.  But the consensus was it was bed time and neither of us had the energy to do any more.  I got back to my room, took a VERY hot shower because I smelled like beer, cigarettes, pot (yes pot, it was everywhere, this is the Netherlands, I kept walking through clouds of smoke.  yuck) and lord only knows what else and then tumbled into bed and slept for about 12 hours.  The party of course was still raging down on the streets.

Sunday Kit, Nicole and I went out for lunch and coffee and simply marveled at how very quite the town was.  Clearly the entire town was in recovery mode and most of the shops were closed.

Today (Monday) it’s grey, cold, and rainy, so I’m hoping this is conducive to getting work done.  Lots to do the next 2 weeks, paper, presentations, tests, packing, etc, etc, and we are also going on our last professional seminar on Wednesday.  We are headed back to The Hague to go to the Peace Palace.  I’m not sure when the next update will be, might be after the Peace Palace, but it might not be for several weeks.

Hope you all are doing well

Love, Heather
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