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.

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