We’re in Delft, the Netherlands. It’s Sunday, February 14, Valentine’s Day, around 11 PM. Tim and I have just returned to the Hotel de Plataan after a great Mediterranean dinner (having been amply warned to not go for traditional Dutch food). Earlier in the day we had seen handfuls of people in outlandish dress: clown pants, or head-to-toe red with face paint. So I asked a waiter, “Why are people dressed in costumes?” And looking at me like I didn’t know a thing, he said, “It’s Carnival!”
I guess I’d never figured they celebrated Mardi Gras in the Netherlands! But they do. And one of the main features seems to be roving bands of reveling musicians with drums or brass instruments. In daylight or nighttime, groups just walk around the streets playing music and shouting. An American we met told us, “The Dutch will take any excuse to walk around playing instruments.” We think this bodes well for us.
So now we’re back at the hotel and Tim opens the window so we can listen to another band that’s walking by. Then he says, “Do you hear what they’re playing?” I stop unpacking my suitcase to listen. We flew all the way from Boston, on the weekend pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, and here, in Delft, a brass Carnival band is playing “Sweet Caroline.”
It was hard not to see it as a sign. And yes: I contributed to the feeling of festivity by leaning out the window and yelling “So good! So good! So good!” at the appropriate points. I was also pointing and jumping around but luckily that wasn’t captured here. Obviously it’s quite dark but at the end of the video you can see the band cross the square outside the hotel.
Good times never seemed so good!