Holiday lights at De Passage (Or: A place to shop at, a place to get warmer in)

De Passage is an outdoor, covered shopping area in the city centre. There are no doors, but if you want to get a bit warmer you can head to the middle of it where the cold outside air almost doesn’t reach. Almost…

Here is a look at the holiday lights on top of one of the entrances. In the far distance down the hall you can just see the Christmas tree sticking out. They lit the tree lights for the first time on 1 December. It is definitely starting to feel like the holidays now.

Here is the store list for De Passage.

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World Cup 2022’s orange wave (Or: They even have Christmas ornaments)

This year the World Cup (soccer for the Americans among us) is being held in Qatar. The Netherlands is playing the Unites States shortly for a place in the quarter finals. (If you’re wondering, my allegiance is for the Dutchies.)

Due to the summer heat, the tournament was moved from the summer to the winter for 2022 only. This of course creates the unique opportunity to buy Dutch football Christmas ornaments:

These are some of the items on sale over at Xenos on the Grote Marktstraat. A few orange Christmas balls, orange clogs and a lion dressed in orange holding a football. Decorate your Christmas tree to show your orange pride!

Not to be out done, you can also buy football shaped bread at Albert Heijn:

You didn’t believe me, did you? Yes, they have football shaped bread. (I will wait for my Christmas tree bread, thanks.)

Lastly, if you’re at a local bar you can get free bittenballen with every goal the Duchies score against the Americans:

If you are wondering what bitterballen are, check out English Wikipedia. It’s basically a fried meat snack. The meat inside is a meat paste. You want to get high quality bitterballen so that you know the meat inside is also (hopefully) high quality.

Ride the orange wave, everyone!

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Hema’s smoked sausage flavored beer (Or: Would you try it?)

One thing Hema is famous for is their smoked sausage (rookworst). When we eat stamppot (English Wikipedia) we always pair it with sausage from Hema. It is tasty! We eat stamppot once a year; Marco’s mom always makes us a batch around February or March when the weather outside is nice and cold.

But now Hema has come out with rookworst flavored beer (5.3% alcohol). Would you want to try it?

It’s definitely an interesting concept, and a bit easier to understand than their tompouce flavored beer last year. Tompouce is a Dutch pastry – see also this English Wikipedia page if you need a refresher.

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Winnie the Pooh and friends (Or: Polonsky exhibition by New York Public Library)

Marco, Roger and I visited the Polonsky exhibition at the New York Public Library while we were visiting. Here’s the blurb on the free exhibition:

“For more than 125 years, The New York Public Library has collected, preserved, and made accessible the world’s knowledge. Now, for the first time, the Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures showcases some of the most extraordinary items from the 56 million in our collections, inspiring and empowering visitors to discover, learn, and create new knowledge—today and in the years ahead.

The treasures in this exhibition tell the stories of people, places, and moments spanning 4,000 years—from the emergence of the written word through to the present day. Visitors will encounter manuscripts, artworks, letters, still and moving images, recordings, and more that bring vividly to life voices of the past.”

And you know what the coolest thing was that we saw?

The stuffed animals that were given to Christopher Robin Milne which became the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh and friends. He received the stuffed teddy bear (inspiration for Winnie the Pooh) on his first birthday. The other stuffed animals on display which Christopher received were inspiration for Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, Tigger and Roo. His father wrote the stories in Christopher’s childhood.

The exhibition link above lets you explore collection highlights digitally if you can’t visit in person. For example, here are some pages:

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Sinterklaas-themed window displays (Or: Spotted at Bijenkorf)

Bijenkorf is a high-end department store comparable to Macy’s in the US. Every year they hang up some gorgeous holiday lights and they decorate their store front windows for Sinterklaas (5 December holiday) and Christmas. The lights went up in early November this year, even before we left for New Year City. Here’s a look at a few of their Sinterklaas themed windows.

You can tell it is Sinterklaas because the child in the middle is holding the staff of Sinterklaas. What’s a Sinterklaas party without fashionable clothes and lots of gifts? Speaking of which, if you want to make sure kids in The Hague and Amsterdam area have gifts to open on 5 December, consider donating to Sintvoorieder1 (official website in Dutch). During their latest toy drive they received about 47,000 gifts for 22,500 children which is just awesome. The link is from omroepwest.nl in Dutch.

Happy Sinterklaas (in advance)!

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Netherlands themed Funko pop (Or: Spotted in NYC)

While we were in New York City last week we spotted a Netherlands themed Funko pop:

Full of Dutch stereotypes, of course. A milk maid holding a tulip, wearing clogs. It was actually a New York Comic Con exclusive, part of the “It’s a small world” collection. The store we spotted it at was Toy Tokyo on 5th and 2nd avenue.

I find it amusing that it is caught in between Cowboy McNugget and Thanos.

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A look at the quieter side (Or: Central Park in NYC)

Marco, Roger and I just returned from a trip to New York City. This was our first trip as tourists since 2019. (I figure a trip to see my parents in Indy last year doesn’t count as we weren’t really tourists then.)

One of the places we visited was Central Park. This time we took the subway up to the northernmost point, 110th street, and walked all the way back down to 59th street. And then some, since we also walked around the reservoir a bit and took detours. I think my Apple Watch said I had 25,000 steps…

Here are some of my photos from that day:

This is from the Conservatory Garden near the top of Central Park. The fountain is called the Untermyer Fountain; it features a bronze cast of Three Dancing Maidens. It was donated to Central Park and dedicated in 1947.

One of the first things you see when you enter the park from the north is Harlem Meer. And yes, that name reflects the Dutch nature of the surrounding area: this land was once part of the Dutch Village Harlem (Harlem being the English spelling; there is also a large city called Haarlem not far from Amsterdam).

This part of Central Park (above) is called Fort Clinton. The fortification was built in 1782 by the British. This area is on a large hill and has perfect views of the surrounding area, both of which are important for military operations. One interesting fact about this cannon is that is was not actually fired from this location. The cannon actually came from a British revolutionary ship which ran aground in the East River in 1780.

Central Park also has a very large reservoir, named after Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The path around the water is just over a mile and a half, so it used by a lot of walkers and runners. And as you can see, it offers gorgeous views of the New York City skyline. It is also a popular spot for bird watchers and features beautiful cherry trees in the springtime.

Finally, here is a view from the base of Belvedere Castle (who knew: Belvedere means “beautiful view” in Italian). It is a miniature castle on top of a rock outcrop known as Vista Rock. Check the link for views of the castle itself.

All in all – a very relaxing visit to Central Park!

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That is one sweet boat (Or: Sinterklaas display by Hema)

By the Hema in The Hague’s city centre there is a display for the upcoming Sinterklaas holiday (5 December):

The display is a boat, a reference to the boat Sinterklaas uses to travel from Spain to the Netherlands every year in November (English Wikipedia). The actual contents of this boat are kruidnoten, small cookies which are a staple for the Sinterklaas holiday.

In other news:

  • Megastores helemaal gesloopt voor nieuwe woontorens from omroepwest.nl (article in Dutch). Megastores is a shopping mall on the other side of The Hague’s Holland Spoor train station. However most of the stores sell furniture or home goods, so the number of shoppers has been dwindling over the years. The article talks about how the entire shopping mall will be demolished in phases starting in 2024, to be replaced by about 2,000 apartments in residential towers.
  • The Zeldzaam mooi markt will be at the Lange Voorhout in The Hague on Sunday, 27 November. The name translates to something like “Rare, beautiful market”. They will be selling retro, vintage and reuse items like jewelry, clothes, home goods, etc.
  • You can donate Sinterklaas presents for kids at The Hague’s Central Library from 14-18 November (indebuurt.nl, in Dutch). The toy drive is sponsored by Sintvoorieder1.
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Oliebollen time! (Or: It must be November)

You know it is (almost) November when you see the oliebollen (English Wikipedia) stand pop up in the last few days of October, a sign of yummy things to come. Oliebollen are a donut-like treat that is popular this time of year. They are eaten en masse on New Year’s Eve. Marco and I usually make oliebollen every year. These days the stands are allowed to open from 1 November until the end of January.

As you can see they still have their preferred spot at the end of the Grote Markt street. They used to be closer to city hall but moved to this spot when construction for the Amare cultural centre started some years ago. Speaking of Amare–apparently the building will be getting a Spar grocery store (indebuurt.nl, in Dutch).

In other news:

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Beautiful blue canals (Or: Another view of The Hague)

Last week I took a walk to the old Red Cross hospital in Segbroek, a neighborhood in The Hague. It was time to get another corona vaccination. It was a route I hadn’t taken before, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a beautiful view of one of the canals:

I love photographing trees dipping into the water. And the blue, slightly cloudy sky was also nice to photograph.

In other news:

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