Monday, March 04, 2013

The fair (kermis) in Volendam, Netherlands and almost failing breath alcohol test during a police check

Little did we -- my cousin, Dr. Balin and I know that we are going to a fiesta, a local fair (which is called kermis in Dutch), in Volendam. Volendam is a popular little town for side day trips from Amsterdam.

Dr. Balin visited me last year in September. She was in Italy for her NGO work and she managed to swing by a weekend to catch up with me in the Netherlands. We haven’t seen each other for YEARS so this was really timely. I made sure her stay in the Netherlands will be a memorable one, and educational and cultural as well.

We dined in a medieval vaulted cellar restaurant in Utrecht, hopped on a train ride to the capital and enjoyed Amsterdam for a few hours, we also did some fairy-tale sightseeing and strolled the grounds of Castle de Haar in the countryside of Utrecht, then we visited the lovely traditional village of Marken nicely situated in an island, as well as the preserved Dutch village with windmills Zaanse Schans, and we even went to Bunnik together with the Dutchman for Dutch pancakes and walked along a river. We surely did a lot for a long weekend.

Now our last jaunt for this busy schedule was Volendam and we were in for a surprise when we arrived at this once fishing village... there is a KERMIS!

A fair or kermis in the Netherlands means only one thing: Party -- beer drinking, people singing Dutch country music (hello this is Volendam where all country singers come from!) outside cafes while waving their hands together up in the air, loud music everywhere, street dancing of course and more beer drinking.

Dr. Balin laughed and said,‘Murag na-miesta man ta ani diri uy!’ (It looks like we gate crashed their fair!) Well what can I say, the bees always follow where the honey is.

We had an afternooon snack of kibbeling (fried small pieces of cod fish), a typically Dutch treat. Balin loved it and we were tempted to buy another serving, but we had to control ourselves as we still have dinner later with the Dutchman at home. I am cooking =)

But controlling ourselves from food we cannot promise. So we sat down at a corner cafe and ordered another typically Dutch treat, appeltaart (apple pie) to share and some drinks.

I really want Balin to taste this as this is a local delicacy, so what can I say, I have an excuse, haha!

While we were happily sharing this Dutch apple pie delight, a local guy (intoxicated perhaps) came to our table and demanded to know why we are eating apple pie at the kermis! LOL! He said we should be drinking beer and partying, and not eating apple pie. Well, I had wine okay. Silly man.

Later, we further checked out the village. The shops were closed already and only the bars, cafe and restaurants along the waterfront were open. We went for a little walk.

And while we were walking around the village, look at who we bumped into again? The guy who asked us why we were eating apple pie! Haha!

He was such a character, a crazy man and a flirt as well who kept following us, but after several polite NO’s, he left us alone, hehe.

We walked around the residential area of Volendam, passing along the still canals and crossing little wooden bridges. It is quiet here because the crowds are at the waterfront.

We also checked out the rides. The attraction is mainly for the kids. Afterwhich, we called it a day and went back to where we parked the car.

We are now going home and I will be making dinner for Dr. Balin and the Dutchman.

As we leave Volendam behind, we saw a slow car traffic build up ahead, and it was then that I realised that police officers are conducting, naturally, a breath alcohol test on vehicle drivers. They always perform this at towns and cities during events and festivals, and they always position themselves just outside the build up area before the exit to the highway, making sure no one escapes.

I only had a glass of red wine earlier, so I should be okay. But when it was my turn to blow into the disposable breath alcohol test tube analyzer I ran out of breath. I couldn’t make the needed seconds for the breath sample to register if I’ve had too much to drink. I tried several times but I can’t just complete the blowing cycle, until such that the police officer told me to step out of the car (note to self: do not panic), and then told me to do it again.

After several more tries, and by this time I sound like I’ve had too much to drink that is why I am not cooperating haha, I was able to blow into the thing properly. Hallelujah there was no alcohol detected! The female police officer thanked me and I got back inside the car and off we go.

I really have no idea why my breath was so short? Dr. Balin told me that I wasn’t relaxed that’s why I couldn’t hold out the whole blowing process. All I can say was, WHEW.

Travel Period: September 2012
Destination: Volendam (Edam-Volendam – North Holland), The Netherlands

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