Author Archives: Niki

About Niki

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Jan van Haasteren puzzles (Or: NY marathon)

Last week Roger dropped off one of his mother’s puzzles for me to work on. Little did I know, it was 1000 pieces! (I thought it would be 500.)

Jan van Haasteren NY marathon puzzle

It is a Jan van Haasteren puzzle with the title NY Marathon – he is a well-known Dutch cartoonist. Part of the reason I like his puzzles is the fact that they are animated – it reminds me of a puzzle I had when I was younger (probably 500 pieces) with a mini golf theme.

First things first – separate out the edges:

pile of puzzle pieces, edges separated

I had a small scare at one point when I couldn’t find one of the edge pieces (remember, it’s not my puzzle!) but after a while it turned up. The biggest issue is the lack of table space – hence why I don’t have any puzzles of my own and it is better to borrow one from someone else.

Progress is being made…

working on a puzzle NY marathon But still a long, long way to go.

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Holidays in the Netherlands (Or: The April-May bonanza)

One interesting thing about the Netherlands is how most of the holidays fall in the early summer. For example:

April 5 &6: Easter Sunday, Easter Monday

April 27: King’s birthday

May 5: Liberation day (public holiday every 5 years– 2010, 2015, 2020…)

May 14: Ascension day

May 24/25: Pentecost

And that’s it until Christmas. America has July 4th, Labor day in September, Thanksgiving in November… Everyone looks forward to the start of summer here, but it is all downhill after that! And then there’s vakantiegeld (vacation money), an “extra” paycheck equivalent to roughly a month’s salary which almost everyone gets in May. Of course, it comes from the taxes you paid the rest of the year, but yeah… vacation time!

Marco and I will be visiting Dublin for a week in June. Should be fun to finally see more than just the international terminal of Dublin’s airport!

On another note, I am hoping it begins to warm up here soon… the mild weather is lovely in the winter but during the summer it is easy to get jealous of other countries. The typical summer high here is (only) 65F/19C, give or take. Brr!

See more about Dutch holidays at this link.

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Empty stores (Or: Graffiti on Voorstraat in Dordrecht)

As I mentioned in my last blog post, Marco and I went to Dordrecht about a week ago to do a stadswandeling in Dordrecht (that’s a walk around the city). After that was done, we doubled back to visit Voorstraat. People say Voorstraat is the longest shopping street in the Netherlands. Of course, such an achievement does come with a price in today’s economy: there are some empty stores. Not a lot, but enough to be noticeable.

Of course, what makes it even more noticeable is when someone adds graffiti to each of the shop windows to point out that it is empty:


Here’s an idea for this empty store: a popup cafe with free wifi!

Some graffiti points out the fact that the store has been empty for over three years. But the main purpose of it is to point out what the store could be used as (apparently if the city government cared enough to do something about it – I suspect it isn’t as easy as the graffitist hopes, though). But other ideas for popup stores (always illustrated by graffiti) include music stores, bike rental stores, and a biological store.

More information about the graffiti and pictures can be found here (in Dutch).

Something cute hanging out by the door of a non-abandoned (just closed at the time) store:


Categories: Dordrecht | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Dordrecht (Or: A walking tour of the city)

Marco and I took the day off on Friday and we decided to visit Dordrecht, a small town outside of Rotterdam (the credit goes to Marco for the idea of what to do).

partial map of the Netherlands

Dordrecht, just under the red “Zuid Holland”

It is about 35 to 40 minutes by train traveling from The Hague. We did a walking tour of the city (Rondje Dordt – page in Dutch) which was about 3km long and showed the sights of the city.

Here are some of the photographs that we took along the way:

Holland Spoor train station platform

Photograph of Holland Spoor, one of the two train stations in The Hague

Continue reading

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New bus/tram stops (Or: Look up)

The Hague is slowly but surely getting new bus and tram shelters!

Here is a photo of one of the old tram stops being removed (while buses, trams and traffic in general ride past just a few feet away!). You can see the old stop being moved in the air, including the stone base underneath.

Old tram/bus stop being removed in The Hague


Here is a look at the new design being used (link).

But when you find yourself at one of the new designs, make sure you look up at the roof, as the design is uniquely The Hague:

Ceiling above new bus/tram stop in The Hague

The symbol of The Hague is the ooievaar (stork). Very pretty!

Categories: The Hague, Transportation | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apples and apple devices (Or: Insane markups)

Someone left an apple in the work cafeteria over the weekend apparently. It sat there all morning and afternoon. Late in the day on Monday, someone had taken the opportunity to write a note:

Apple awaiting an upgradeThe note says: “Is this Apple device awaiting an upgrade?”

As most of you know, Apple held their Apple Watch event on May 9th. I never was one to wear watches – I am sure I did at some point as a kid but it wasn’t a habit. So that part didn’t really have my attention. But at some point I checked the website and realized they were announcing a new 12″ Macbook. I am on the market for a new device sometime later in the year, and have been considering switching to a Mac for a while. Scandalous, I know.

However, after doing some research I decided to forego this particular model. It prioritizes form over function. Don’t get me wrong – it is an amazing laptop with a full sized keyboard and retina screen (2304 x 1440), as well as being ridiculously light (under 2 pounds/1 kilo) and thin (13.1mm). But the main thing I am looking for is a decent gaming laptop — not great, mind you — and the processor inside the Macbook is Intel’s Core M processor which is a few years out of date. It’s actually a step back from last year’s Macbook Air’s processor, even.

And then there is the price in the Netherlands versus the price in America. In America you can purchase the lower-end model for $1,299. In the Netherlands, the same machine would cost you €1,499 (a difference of about €267 or $281). Wow.

So the hunt continues. And that’s just fine – I enjoy the hunt just as much as actually holding the product in my hands anyway.

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Cakes and other baking goodness (Or: By the Asian store?)

If you are looking to make American-style cakes and desserts and happen to be in the center of The Hague, I would actually recommend visiting the Asian store underneath C&A (to the left of the C&A entrance you will see stairs leading downwards – see also this blog post with a photo).

Here is just a small sampling of the various Duncan Hines recipes they offer:

Duncan Hines cakes at Amazing Oriental Den Haag

In total there are probably about 15-20 different types on offer at any point. German chocolate cake, red velvet cake, blue velvet cake, coconut surprise… Unfortunately the selection isn’t available in the webshop on their website linked above. Of course if you are desperate for American food there is also though it is definitely import prices.

As there is a large Asian population in the area (it is not far from Chinatown) the store is almost always crowded. But it is a staple if you’re looking for Asian food. There’s also a smaller store by the same name in the Markthof, across from the Hema entrance and close by Simonis, a fresh fish store, and “Flowers for you” (a flower shop, of course).

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In search of baking soda (Or: Zuiveringszout)

Yesterday Marco made soft baked pretzels. The recipe called for baking soda; you dip the pretzels in it before they are put in to bake. We knew that you could get baking soda at the local expat store (Kelly’s) but I was curious to see if it was available at any Dutch stores. While doing some Google searches I came across this article from Kiwidutch. I found out that baking soda is zuiveringszout in Dutch and it is more likely to be found at drug stores rather than the local grocery store. Oddly it is cheaper as an import item than at the local Dutch store…

On the way to the expat store we came across an interesting metal sculpture depicting two bicyclists in the rain (note the umbrellas).

Dutch metal sculpture of bikers with umbrellas

click for a larger size


I just noticed the bicycle shop across the street (Top bikes), too. How Dutch!

Categories: Culture, Food | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Green and yellow (Or: Artwork of The Hague)

Here is a picture of random art from The Hague:

Art work at a Dutch school

It is green and yellow, to represent the colors of The Hague (also the colors of The Hague’s flag). Above is a piece of art in a Dutch school.

Of all random things to do on a Thursday night, I am currently watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Darmok episode to be exact. A good episode to see Patrick Stewart acting. ;)

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Uniquely purple (Or: A random Dutch bike)

Some days I feel like I should have a blog which just documents bike photos. Some other bike photos include: Bikes in Delft and Amsterdam || Bikes along a Utrecht canal || So many bikes by Holland Spoor (train station) || All that remains: A lone bike wheel || Beads along bike spokes

Yesterday I came across a purple bike, although the paint was chipping. Looks like it used to be an orange color.

Dutch bike - in purple

Click for a larger size


Here is a close up:

Purple Dutch bike - close up

Click for a larger size


See? Orange paint!

Categories: Daily Dutch living, The Hague | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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