Starting from the evening of 21 July until the early morning of 24
July, I endured some of the hardest days of my life. Every day was
gruelling and tormenting, with scabs forming on the bottom of my feet
from the persistent walking. My throat was dry at the end of each day;
my clothing was soiled from head to toe due to the harsh environment.
Each hour that passed seemed to go on for an eternity. Of course, I’m
referring to Nijmegen – The Four Day Parties.
Some say that there was a lot of marching going on
during each day, some say there were even real marchers, but I had to
depend on television to confirm these seemingly outrageous rumours.
Just as the early morning marchers were heading off to assault their
feet and legs, myself and Marco had the difficult duty of heading
straight to sleep after surviving a twelve-hour party binge each
evening. Marco had devised a clever plan to keep our heads clear after
downing cup after cup of fine, easily drinkable beers like Heineken and
Grolsch. After all, we were the only ones from our area able to make it
to the city this year, and we felt compelled to do the best job we could
of "representing" after doing months and months of intensive training in
numerous pubs around Belgium and The Netherlands.
Marco’s drinking strategy hinged around the idea that
after every five beers we would drink a glass of water, which was then
to be chased down by a small snack. Unfortunately, problems arose the
first evening when this policy was not adhered to after being stuck in
the crowd of hundreds of people partying the night away. Nevertheless,
we pulled through the night like champions all the while meeting and
greeting many friendly inhabitants of the city. The second evening
brought scattered showers that seemed to dwindle down attendance for the
parties, yet the opportunity for celebration never stopped. After all,
a little inclement weather could never dampen the unwavering spirit of
the true die-hard Nijmegen partiers. It also did not hurt our fun by
having me wear my trademark cowboy hat on the second day. There’s one
thing about a genuine K-Mart store-bought cowboy hat in Europe, it is a
great conversation piece. Guys always want to know why exactly I’m
wearing it, and more importantly, the ladies always want to wear it.
The third evening began after watching a Dutch television report on the
marches. Something that I am learning about the Dutch is that some of
them have an absolutely remarkable, dare I say uncanny, ability to make
jokes at others expense, yet never really offend anyone in the process.
I know for a fact that I’d get a pretty rude glance if I told an old
grandmother ("oma") on the march that she was in the running for
“hottest marcher,” but sure enough a reporter for Dutch TV did this very
thing and everyone was laughing, including the lady!
With the weather taking a turn for the better, coupled
with the fact that we were quickly approaching the dawn of the last day,
the partying picked up on that particular Thursday evening. Marco and I
did our best to stick to his drinking routine and were able to down
countless cups of beer with no detrimental effects to our being. On the
last evening, Marco’s parents and two of their family friends joined us
on our final excursion into the beer-swigging, music-pumping heart of
Nijmegen. It was a fun-filled evening of enjoying fabulous food and
drink all the while being surrounded by live bands performing in a
half-dozen different venues. If the first night’s attendance could be
compared to a small army, then the last night’s crowd of partygoers
could certainly be weighed against a Roman legion. Let there be no
doubt, the Four Day Parties in Nijmegen should be a definite
destination spot for fun-seekers looking to enjoy some food, folks, and
beer over four solid days in a row.