This morning I was met with a sea of orange. There were lots of police officers setting up for a protest around the Binnenhof (parliament offices in The Hague). Reports say that at its height there were 1400 police officers on hand. I even received an email from the American consulate — basically they send out emails to interested citizens about any protest that happens in Amsterdam or The Hague. In this case the police were protesting for better pay (a 3.3% increase) and a lowering of the retirement age which currently stands at 67 years.
The beginnings of the sea of orange – there were of course many more police around the corner by the Binnenhof and Buitenhof
The email also clarified who was wearing what – police wearing an orange vest over their uniform were protesters. Police wearing a red vest over their uniform were protest leaders. And finally you also had active, on-duty police officers wearing just their police uniform.
Here is an article in Dutch and an article in English.
This past Thursday was a national holiday here in the Netherlands – Hemelvaartsdag, or Ascension Day, a Christian holiday. Marco and I decided to take the tram to Zoetermeer and do some shopping. Well, I decided to do some shopping and Marco begrudgingly came along… I kid, I kid.
We visited the Stadshart (City’s heart) to do our shopping. I did manage to find a new pair of pants for work – harder than one might think as the Netherlands seems to discriminate against short folks like me! Here’s a view of the indoor part of the shopping area:
One interesting thing about this area was the lack of proper protection against wind in the beginning. Not long after it opened it became clear that this area was really nothing more than a huge wind tunnel. I found an old article in Dutch about the issue (article) but I mostly know about it from the stories Marco told me.
As usual we stopped at Bagels & beans for a coffee and an apple crumble. The weather wasn’t as good as it was a few weeks ago in Leiden but it wasn’t too cold. For the Netherlands anyway…
After work Marco surprised me with a new watch! A bit crazy since I don’t normally wear watches, but we had been talking about the Apple watch lately…
Isn’t it great? Marco is so sweet!
And so is the watch…
Hopefully it is 5:25 am or pm before I get hungry enough to eat it, just so I can say it was right once…
(I have no interest in wearing a watch. I tried it as a kid but it was more annoying then useful. I find it interesting to follow news of the Apple Watch, but only to see how it develops from afar. I don’t think it will really hit its stride until version 3 or 4. Until then my wrist stays bare.)
On Saturday Marco and I went to Leiden. It is a university city not far from The Hague (10-15 minutes by train). We first made a stop at the VVV office (tourist office) for a free city guide. Unfortunately it was pretty commercial in nature and it wasn’t quite as informative as the Dordrecht guide was (we paid €5 for that). However the Leiden guide did have three recommended walks in the back so we used that. You just need to keep in mind some of the streets it takes you down are store heavy…
My first picture was easily my favorite:
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Recently a suitcase full of WWII letters were found in the French restaurant Walter Benedict in The Hague. (Article: in English | in het Nederlands). These letters were uncovered during a renovation and were written by Israel Bachrach, a Jew living in The Hague. He wrote to both his mother and his non-Jewish girlfriend about how horrible it was to live in a German-occupied city.
The Facebook page for the restaurant talks about how the letters were discovered. In Dutch: “Tijdens het strippen van het plafond in het achterhuis waar nu de keuken gevestigd is vielen oude brieven met daarin foto’s en kleding naar beneden. Een dag voor het strippen hadden we al vraagtekens bij de ruimte waarin onze keuken geïnstalleerd zou moeten gaan worden. Dus zijn we naar het gemeente archief gegaan om de oude bouwtekeningen van het pand te bekijken. We stuitten op een bouwtekening uit juli 1941 waarop duidelijk wordt dat een extra vloer in het achterhuis is geplaatst waardoor een geheime ruimte tussen de vloeren ontstond.”
In short – the restaurant was working on the renovations for the kitchen. They had questions about the room (dimensions or similar) and decided to go to the city hall’s archive to ask for the building’s blueprints. They were able to find blueprints from July 1941 which made it clear that there was an extra floor in the room (and thus a space in between the two floors to hide items). This is where the letters were found.
Walter Benedict was able to escape in September 1942 to Switzerland (via Belgium) though there were a few close calls where he was almost caught – but he made it out. After the war he returned to The Hague and opened a bookstore at the spot that would later be occupied by the French restaurant.
A few weeks ago Marco and I went to a Greek restaurant with my father-in-law and his wife. We went to Irodion, a restaurant which has recently re-opened on the Grote Marktstraat (it used to be at another nearby corner, but construction forced it to move so it was closed for a time). They have a snackbar on the ground floor and a restaurant on the first floor.
The best thing about the restaurant is the view of the Grote Markt plein. (It looked like most of the tables next to the window were four seaters, so keep that in mind.)
And here is a look at the bar:
The food was comparable to the Greek restaurant we usually go to, Athene. In both places you generally have the option of a salad bar to go with your meal, plus the typical Greek choices. If anything this menu was a bit easier to get through, as they had less combinations listed (though the same food on offer). Athene does give you a complementary chilled shot of ouzo, a licorice alcohol served as aperitif.
The desserts were pretty nice. First the dame blanche:
There is so much whipped cream you can’t even see the vanilla ice cream! And of course it comes with a rather generous serving of chocolate sauce to pour on top.
Here is the baklava dessert:
The cool thing about the presentation is the orange slice, although it is hard to tell why from this angle. It is a full orange slice cut in half so that one half is draped on one side and the other on the other side, with the peel connecting the two sides.
Last week my mother-in-law and I made a stop at Albert Heijn. She had a coupon from the Allerhande (the Albert Heijn recipe book) for a discount on Senseo coffee. The coupon itself was good from mid-March until today but she hadn’t had much luck finding an Albert Heijn with the item in stock.
When she asked at the customer service desk for this particular Albert Heijn (Grote Markt 55A) whether they had the item in stock, the worker looked in the back for the item and whether or not it might be re-stocked soon. When she couldn’t find it, she offered a few different options. My mother-in-law was quite pleased with this service and remarked about how the service at this Albert Heijn was better than at her own. At this remark we both received flower bouquets, a quite unexpected move.
Here’s a picture of mine, though I’m sorry for the blurriness. I tried to sharpen it a bit, but it didn’t quite work out:
The puzzle is now complete! As a reminder it is a puzzle with the name “NY marathon”. 1,000 pieces! This was two nights ago:
And around dinner time tonight:
You can find the puzzle here.
Lately the temperature has been climbing up – bit by bit, with lapses back into cold rainy days from time to time, but it is definitely springtime. It’s still generally in the high 50s or low 60s, but it is an improvement. Usually!
Along with most of our days off (holidays) falling in April-June, this marks the time when outdoor events begin. For example, yesterday was the Dag van de Haagse Geschiedenis (in Dutch, Day of History of The Hague). Next weekend is the Life I Live festival (Dutch | English). This festival is found throughout the center of The Hague, on nine different stages, from 7pm to 1:30am. It falls on King’s Day eve, the night before the King’s birthday.
How do I feel about spring finally being here? Well, here’s a cappuccino smiley to show you:
Of course the forehead makes it look slightly evil… just don’t feed it after midnight.
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.)
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:
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…
But still a long, long way to go.