Author Archives: Niki

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Mr. Clean versus Mr. Proper (Or: Brand name differences)

A few days ago I was at Albert Heijn. I thought this would be a fun topic for the blog:

Bottles of Mr Proper, Albert Heijn, The Hague

I did not post the picture to show how tall the shelves are/how short I am. I already know that! Usually Marco is around when I need something from a tall shelf so it works out, thankfully.

The photo is actually of a cleaner called “Mr. Proper”. If you’re American you’ll probably more easily recognize it as “Mr. Clean”. But like most things, names are translated into local languages. And that doesn’t stop at everyday purchases – for example Hermione in the Harry Potter books is named Hermelien in Dutch. Hmm.

I read the Wikipedia article for “Mr. Clean” before writing this blog post. My favorite random fact was the following: “make mrproper is a command in the Linux kernel build system, used to “clean up” all files from past builds and restore the build directory to its original clean state.” And of course proper was used in place from clean because the creator of Linux was from Europe.

Finally, I am also amused by the simplest thing: the pronunciation of “Mr. Proper”. Mr. is actually an abbreviation for Meneer (which still translates to Mister). You would pronounce it something like: Meh-neer Pro-per, with emphasis on “pro”. The syllable splitting of proper gets me; in Dutch if you have one consonant it always attaches itself to the second syllable, not the first. Prop-er would be incorrect in Dutch. (If you have two consonants one goes with the first syllable and the other with the second syllable: kap-per.)

And thus ends our random Dutch supermarket lesson.

Categories: Everyday purchases | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Art cafes and singed buildings (Or: Amersfoort photos)

As mentioned in a previous blog post, Marco and I visited Amersfoort for our second anniversary. I took some photos of the Eemplein, a shopping area not far from our hotel.

Eemplein in Amersfoort

KAdECafe in Amersfoort

The inside of the KAdECafé, a cafe attached to an art hall.

You can read more about the KAdECafé here.

Random building in the Amersfoort

A strange looking building not far from the plein, deliberately painted to look as if it had recently survived a fire. At least that is what I guess…

Free refills at the Burger King in Amersfoort

There is also a Burger King right by the hotel we stayed at. The crazy thing was they had free refills, which mirrors the American system — you order a drink and are given the appropriate size cup to go with it. Then you can dispense the drink yourself (with the soda fountain shown here).

Let’s just say “free refills” are an all but unheard of concept here in the Netherlands. The only exceptions I’ve seen are at some of the buffets.

Only a few more days until a nice, relaxing weekend!

Categories: Amersfoort | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bike tricks (Or: Pro Freestyle in The Hague)

Last Sunday Marco and I came across the Pro Freestyle event being held at the Spuiplein.

The Hague Pro Freestyle 1

Performing tricks for the crowd

The three day event attracted about 35,000 visitors and featured freestyle BMX, skateboarding and more.

The Hague Pro Freestyle 2

The silhouette of a biker

The Hague Pro Freestyle 3

Once you’re done with your run you have to carry your bike up the stairs and do it all over again. Bonus: the awesome sky.



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

Second anniversaries (Or: Executive suites in Amersfoort)

On Saturday Marco and I went to Amersfoort to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. We decided to book an executive suite. Let me just say I’ve never stayed in “the best room in the hotel” before. It was great. And while the room description said that there were be a 52″ television, it turns out the room had three 52″ TVs. Sheesh.

We did end up exploring Amersfoort a bit, but mainly the area near the hotel. There’s another, proper shopping area about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. We did visit it briefly to get some bagels from Bagels & Beans for breakfast in the morning.

Mercure hotel Amersfoort dining room table

Dining room table, complete with complimentary fruit. This was TV #1 of #3.

Living room Mercure hotel in Amersfoort

Sitting room with free water (normal and with bubbles) – quite un-Dutch to offer free water! There were also two cold waters in the fridge. This was TV #2 of #3.

View from the bedroom – the tower in the distance is the ‘Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren’

Executive suite Mercure hotel in Amersfoort living room

Bed, including bathrobes and slippers. This was TV #3 of #3 (not shown).

Jacuzzi at Mercure hotel in Amersfoort

Two person jacuzzi. Or four, really… It was huge! And definitely the highlight of the room (and why we booked it in the first place).

When we checked out we were told that it was the best room in the hotel. It definitely seemed like it. Bye room 1001!

Executive suite Mercure hotel in Amersfoort

Categories: Marco&Niki | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Random photos (Or: Around The Hague and Scheveningen)

I decided it might be fun to show off some of my more random photos that didn’t end up getting their own blog post.

Disney Descendants advertisement in The Hague

By the tram stop – an advertisement for Disney’s Descendants

What caught my eye was the use of the shadow on the ground to “extend” the advertisement onto the ground.

Hema Make & Bake cookies

Make & Bake cookie jars at Hema

Anyone want to bake some cookies? The jar includes all of the ingredients you need, apparently.

Flowers by the Buitenhof in The Hague

Flowers next to Buitenhof

Of course that photo was from a month or two ago – all it has done in the last few weeks is rain, rain, rain.

Kurhaus in Scheveningen

Kurhaus (a hotel) in Scheveningen, on the night of the Fireworks Festival

Until next time!

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

The local Asian store (Or: Saturdays are for sushi)

On Thursday night Marco and I went to the Asian store. It’s near the Pathe movie theater in the centrum – underneath it, in fact. It is a larger store, usually crowded on the weekends but not as much on Thursday nights. As I’ve said before, The Hague has “koopavond” on Thursday nights, which means a lot (though not all) stores stay open until 9pm.

Amazing Oriental in The Hague

Rice and soups

Amazing Oriental in The Hague 2

More one serving soups. I usually raid this section as one of the brands is “6 halen 5 betalen”, or “Get 6, pay for 5”.

And why were we in the Asian store? Because on Saturday we wanted to make sushi of course! Which we did, with Roger. Sushi with salmon, cucumber, tuna and even chicken. And a soy sauce dip, with a bit of wasabi paste to mix in. We’re still working on perfecting it – but it was pretty good. We also shared a bottle of sake between the three of us.

Amazing Oriental in The Hague 3

Note in the middle the McCormick logo (which started in Baltimore, Maryland, US). It is interesting to see how international the brand has become.

We also had some wasabi sauce (in addition to the paste mentioned above). Man oh man was that an unexpected experience. It had a kick! A little spicy for a few seconds, and then you inevitably breathe in and it rushes up your nose and into your brain. I suppose it’s good for cleaning out the sinuses…

All in all, good food.

Categories: Everyday purchases, Food | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Saturday night outing (Or: Sampling Indian food)

On Saturday Marco and I went to an Indian restaurant on Molenstraat here in The Hague, Ramna restaurant. This was part of Albert Heijn’s “restaurant actie“. Over the summer you had a chance to get a restaurant stamp with every 10 euros you spend. Ten stamps could be turned in for a free three course menu for the second diner. We managed to do this 10 times (2 of which came from Marco’s father and his wife). Some Albert Heijn staff were more than generous with how many stamps you received – sometimes 4 or 5 instead of 1 or 2.

At this restaurant you were able to choose anything on the menu (in comparison to a Thai restaurant last year where you received a limited menu to choose from for the action). Here are some of the photos of what we ate:

Appetizers at Ramna restaurant in The Hague
Above: First up, appetizers. Specifically, papadom – it is a thin sort of crunchy wafer which in this case was served with onions, a sweet and sour sauce, and two types of spicy chutneys.

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Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Podcasts (Or: Passing time at work)

I’ve added a new page to the blog – podcasts. The blog already had an apps page for Dutch apps (games or informational) so I thought it might be interesting to add a page for my other interest, podcasts. I actually started listening to podcasts late last year, around the time of the Serial craze. Serial wasn’t the one that hooked me to listening to podcasts, though. I’d probably say Strangers or 99% invisible was.

What is a podcast?
An audio file which can be downloaded off the internet, generally in installments (weekly, monthly, randomly). The topics can be anything – Strangers was just… stories/memories, heartfelt, sometimes sad. 99% invisible is a podcast about design. Little facts about things you never thought about. For example, one of the more recent episodes was about the bathysphere, a crude device from the 1920s for descending deep into the ocean depths.

What do you need to listen to it?
I listen on my phone. If you have an iPhone, it comes pre-installed with the Podcasts app. I have recently switched to Overcast, which has a very handy feature of skipping backwards or forwards by 30 seconds – useful if you listen to podcasts at work like I do and get distracted. It’s free, but I am liking it enough that I might actually donate the suggested 5 euros to unlock all features someday soon. Apple TV also has the Podcasts app. But most of the podcasts also have a website, so it is possible to listen from your computer as well.

What are some of my favorite Dutch podcasts?
Unfortunately, I don’t have many. There obviously isn’t as much choice as what you would get in English. If you listen to any others please comment!

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Categories: Apps | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Nature (Or: Peace in contemplation)

A few weeks ago Marco, his mom and I visited Marco’s uncle and aunt again. The occasion? A photo session with the extended family. And what do I do during a photo session? Take my own photos of course! Here are some of the best I took:

Buddha statue through pine trees

Peace in contemplation

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Categories: Friends&Family | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trams and fireworks (Or: Luckily not at the same time)

I seem to be on tram kick lately. Let’s see, some incidents this week:

1. There’s a place in The Hague where you have a pole right next to the tram rails. That is not a problem at all for the tram – obviously the distance was factored in. However, what do Dutch like to do when they see a pole?

You guessed it. Place a bike against it. Or two actually in this case. The tram driver drives really slowly, really carefully, but manages to hit the bike. So that means she has to get up and open the door just to move the bike. (Note: some other guy on his bike riding past got off his bike just to help her move them.)

2. This afternoon a biker wanted to turn right. No problem – the tram also had a curve where it turned right as well. Except there isn’t much space at the side of the road in the curve, and you quickly run into a stack of bikes on the sidewalk. Not much room to manuever. So of course the tram passes the biker and turns right, but the biker keeps going in the turn as well, causing the tram to have to slow down to almost a complete stop. (Last I saw the guy gave up and biked into what little space there was on the sidewalk to get out of the way.)

3. But the craziest – this morning. I was in the tram heading to work and there was a garbage truck on the right side of the road. The tram was again in a turn, this time heading left. I was in the last compartment and had a great view of the garbage truck. I remember thinking “Wow, he’s really close by. But as usual there won’t be an issue.” After the garbage truck passes out of view I hear a loud screeeeeech as the garbage truck’s side mirror slashes against the body of the tram – and then a loud thud as the mirror (I presume) falls to the ground. Eep. The tram didn’t stop, either.

Another story, not quite tram-less:
Last Friday Marco, Roger and I went to the fireworks festival in Scheveningen. It happens over two weekends – Friday and Saturday and Friday and Saturday of the following weekend – and you always have two countries every night “competing” for who has the best fireworks. I left competing in quotes because I have never seen the results of the competition. The night we went was Italy and then The Netherlands.

Fireworks festival in Scheveningen

Waiting on the boulevard for the Italian fireworks to start. You can see the boats with the fireworks in the distance on the water.

At first I thought the Italian fireworks were better… until I saw the Dutch finale! Quite nice. But then we had a lot of trouble getting home. Of course it was a mad house at the tram stop. Waves upon waves of people pushing trying to get into any available tram, and we were too far down the tram stop to get into a tram (three trams went by and still nothing by us, for instance). Eventually we got into bus 23 which at best would take us to the Laan van Nieuw-Oost Indie stop. Not too bad, but still a hike to get back home. The bus was very crowded, though.

Of course, things aren’t that easy. Marco says he now knows why they put a limit on the amount of people allowed in a bus – because ours got a flat tire not too long into the ride. Eek. Luckily this was somewhere near Madurodam’s stop so we were able to hitch a ride on tram 9. There was a tiny, tiny bit of space for us to jump on in the middle of the tram. Of course some guy took offense to me wanting to hold on to the bars in front of the doors (he was standing on the steps by the doors) and so he kept squashing my hand with his butt. My hand was so red afterwards! You’d think he’d realize the presence of a foreign object and not be so rude, but oh well… I chose to keep my mouth shut, so I’m also to blame.

And right now it’s pouring. Ugh. Byebye what little summer we had. :)

Wow… I believe that I have angered the rain Gods with that comment. Right after typing it the sky just turned a sickly bright orange. Scary…

Categories: Scheveningen, Transportation | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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