Weekendje weg (Or: Disneyland Paris, 25th anniversary)

Weekendje weg = a short weekend trip. A bit ironic here, since our trip was five days…

Last weekend (Thurs-Mon), Marco, Roger and I went to Disneyland Paris. This was my second time – the first was during our honeymoon in 2013. And this time we splurged a bit, booking a suite in Sequoia Lodge, a hotel themed after the American northwest. The excuse was that we were with three adults, so this way everyone has plenty of room! And little did we know that the complimentary VIP fast passes (unlimited use) would quickly come in handy when we realized we arrived in the middle of a French school holiday…

We went by train, taking the Thalys from Rotterdam. First class! So free breakfast when you board at 7am. That got us to Gare du Nord, the train station in Paris. Then we had to take the metro (45 minutes to an hour) to get to Disneyland itself. It’s east of the city. We booked “Disneyland express” which meant that when you arrive at the Disney train station you can drop off your luggage and collect your park entrance tickets and VIP fast passes right then and there. They deliver your luggage to the hotel while you go straight to the park. We ended up not getting to the hotel until around 8 or 9pm that night.

Another perk of the room type – separate registration area! It was like opening a new bank account – you went to a desk, with two chairs for the guests. You have a seat while they get the last formalities squared away. There was a bowl of 25th anniversary golden coins (dark chocolate), free for the taking. We took a few, not knowing just how many we’d get during this five day trip…

At this point the worker called someone to let them know what our room number was so they could deliver the luggage to the room and open the sofa bed for Roger. We didn’t go to the room right away, but instead headed over to the “Golden Forest” lounge (for anyone with a Golden Forest room or better). It was a strange experience – there was no one else there! Unfortunately that was the only time we would see the place empty again.

Sequoia Lodge Golden Forest lounge

The advantage of the Golden Forest lounge – it is also a breakfast area, and you can get breakfast whenever you want between 7 and 11am. During breakfast they open both rooms. The first time Marco and I went to Disneyland together, we stayed at the New York hotel and had to pick half hour slots when we wanted to have breakfast (first come first serve at hotel checkin). This was much more relaxed.

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Categories: The Hague | 2 Comments

Last days of summer (Or: A walk through the Haagse Bos and Benoordenhout)

A few weeks ago – the last decent warm day, really – Marco and I took a walk from Central Station through the Haagse Bos (The Hague forest) towards Benoordenhout, a district of The Hague.

Monument to Queen Consort Emma of the Netherlands

Monument to Emma, Queen consort of the Netherlands

Above is a monument to Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont, the mother of Queen Wilhema. After the death of her husband, King Willem III, Emma became the Queen Consort of the Netherlands in 1890. This lasted until 1898 when Wilhema came of age.

(Huh. There’s a tram stop/street called Waldeck Pyrmontkade. And now I know why.)

Scouting Stnaley 55 building in The Hague

Building for Scouting Stanley 55.

Above is a building for the scouting group Scouting Stanley 55

Statue of Marie Gravin van Bylandt, The Hague

Statue of Maria Gravin van Bylandt

It is a bit hard to tell in this photo but the woman is holding a dog in her lap. This is Maria Gravin van Bylandt, whose organization promotes projects which help people as well as animals.

MAOC Gravin van Bylandt Stichting, The Hague

The Gravin van Bylandt Stichting

Old school Albert Heijn logo

Albert Heijn of yesteryear

And the last photo is of an Albert Heijn (local supermarket) which still has the older, golden logo. Cool!

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Halloween gets more popular (Or: SoLow in The Hague)

Marco and I visited SoLow a few times this month to look for Halloween supplies. The name of the store refers to their prices: they are, well, “so low”. But the best time to visit is in late September and in October, as they always have a good selection for Halloween costumes and decorations.

Clown Halloween decoration at SoLow, The Hague

This evil clown definitely looks like he jumped right out of the set of Stephen King’s It…

Dog halloween decoration at SoLow, The Hague

Or the undead dog. Oddly enough, this was the only thing a little kid wanted to go near. She was deathly afraid of the other decorations that made noise and moved around, but nope. This one she just HAD to pet. Briefly…

Halloween masks at SoLow, The Hague

Masks for every occasion. 

Skeleton Halloween decoration at SoLow, The Hague

Or a happy go lucky skeleton, if that is what you are looking for.

I’ve been pleased with how Halloween has grown as a holiday over here. It is still not nearly as popular as in the States, but there are more parties and opportunities for kids to get candy if they know where to go.

I think this year I might resurrect the blue fairy costume again. With a few pieces I bought this year from SoLow, of course!

Categories: Everyday purchases, Holidays | Tags: , | 8 Comments

Soccer? Football? (Or: My first ADO Den Haag game)

Of course – it is called football (or voetbal) over here. Roger bought some tickets for the ADO Den Haag game a few weeks back, against Sparta Rotterdam. So Marco and I met up with Roger and his mother – although our first stop was the Rrrollend Foodtruck festival. The last one of the year in The Hague! We are already looking forward to the return of the festival in 2018.

Here is the ADO Den Haag stadium – reachable by tram 3 or 4 from the city centre (Forepark station).

ADO Den Haag football stadium

Unfortunately it is about a 10 minute walk from the station, but at least you don’t have to take the train.

Before the ADO Den Haag football game

Before the game – people filing in and the grass being watered. It is hard to tell from this photo, but the seats are elevated, with fans needing to climb a flight of metal stairs to get to this level. The field is separated by a high wall to prevent rioters from reaching the field.

The section on the other side with the team logo is where the fans with season cards sit.

More flag waving before ADO Den Haag football game

At the beginning of the game they passed out a lot of large flags to our section. If you sit here your flag waving skills better be good!

Flag waving before the ADO Den Haag game

Above is one very energetic fan. He first passed this flag to another spectator, asking if the man wanted to wave the flag. When this didn’t really happen (the guy just held it in his hands), the guy took it back and began to wave it frantically. And note the back of his shirt – 070 is the area code of The Hague.

1-0 score between ADO Den Haag and Sparta

We ended up winning the game 1-0. It would have been 2-0 but there was a goal called off for being offside.

The best part: we were sitting right behind the goal so we had a great view.

Blue Army graffiti by the stands at ADO Den Haag football game

Here’s a look at the graffiti-filled wall that separates the fans from the field. The stairs to go up to the stands are off to the left.

All in all it was a fun game. Though I have to admit that my favorite moment was when ADO Den Haag had a goal chance that the Sparta goalkeeper blocked – four times! The ball kept being hit back to the ADO Den Haag player, who had little choice but to kick it back in the same direction. it was like a game of pong.

Categories: Friends&Family, Sports, The Hague | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Dunkin’ Donuts in Amsterdam (Or: Mmmmmm, donuts)

“Doughnuts. Is there anything they can’t do?” — Homer Simpson (from “Marge vs. the Monorail“, season 4, episode 12). So much of my childhood was based around the Simpsons!

Here are a few more photos from Marco and I’s trip to Amsterdam a few weeks back – this time from the local Dunkin’ Donuts on Damstraat. Dunkin’ Donuts opened stores in the Netherlands at the beginning of this year. So far they have 5 locations across Amsterdam with plans to move into other cities by the end of the year, including nearby Zoetermeer.

Dunkin Donuts in Amsterdam, Damstraat, 2

Dunkin Donuts in Amsterdam, Damstraat, 1

And of course Dunkin’ Donuts is looking to open a location in The Hague in 2018 (article in Dutch).

Dunkin Donuts in Amsterdam, Damstraat, 4

It isn’t without controversy – Dutch political party PvdA was against Dunkin’ Donuts coming here due to the food being unhealthy (article also in Dutch). PvdA is Partij voor de Arbeid, or Labour party. Understandable, but I do not believe fast food should be banned purely for health reasons.

Dunkin Donuts in Amsterdam, Damstraat, 3

In an attempt to cater to local audience you also have locally inspired donuts like Dutch blue (far left), Tulip (middle) and a donut with the logo of Amsterdam (far right)…

Stroopwafel donuts by Dunkin Donuts, Amsterdam

and a stroopwafel inspired donut, with a piece of stroopwafel cookie on top and caramel filling. Sounds heavy! 

Six donuts from Dunkin Donuts in AmsterdamOur six choices are above. Top row, left to right: apple crumble, toasted coconut and Dutch blue (Delft blauw pattern). Bottom row, left to right: chocolate rainbow, maple drizzle, and lemon.

I don’t like donuts with filling (I know – sacrilegious!), so the two donuts for me were the chocolate rainbow and the lemon donut. 🙂 Yum!

Categories: Amsterdam, Food | Tags: | 4 Comments

Eye-catching (Or: Photos from Amsterdam)

As mentioned in my previous blog post, Marco and I were in Amsterdam last week to celebrate our four year wedding anniversary. And I have more photos to share! Here is a look at the EYE Film Museum, taken from across the river IJ.

EYE Film museum in Amsterdam, from across the river, Sept 2017

It is the national museum of film, containing over 40,000 films, from classics to modern film. Their website states that there are four cinemas, an exhibition space, a floor reserved for educational activities, a store and a bar-restaurant. They also host film-related programs and debates.

Royal Palace in Amsterdam, Sept 2017

A look at the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, also in the heart of the city

Royal Palace Amsterdam - other side, Sept 2017

The lesser photographed “back side” of the building, including a 6 meter tall statue of Atlas carrying the globe on his shoulders

What are you reading board in American Book Center in Amsterdam, Sept 2017

And finally, the “What are you reading?” board in the American Book Center.

What am I reading right now? Open kaart, by Brenno de Winter. It’s a book about the OV-chipkaart system in the Netherlands, or the card used to travel on public transportation throughout the country. Specifically the book covers the historical security issues as detailed on Wikipedia, mostly related to how easy the card was to hack in the beginning. It sounds dry but it is a fun read… if you’re into that sort of thing, of course!

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Beurspassage in Amsterdam (Or: A beautiful shortcut)

Earlier this week Marco and I were in Amsterdam to celebrate our wedding anniversary (four years!). One of the places we visited was the Beurspassage, a small passage which connects two well-known Amsterdam streets (Damrak and Nieuwendijk). The passage itself is only a 5 minute walk from the central station. The top and sides are covered in art – including a giant fish!

Beurspassage in Amsterdam - fish sculpture - Sept 2017

A giant fish, just like I said!

Beurspassage in Amsterdam, Sept 2017

Towards Nieuwendijk

Beurspassage in Amsterdam 2, Sept 2017

Towards Damrak

Beurspassage in Amsterdam, Primark entrance, Sept 2017

Giant green shoes hang on the wall by Primark…

The only thing I would have wanted was that it was longer. But it was very pretty nonetheless!

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Metallica at Ziggo Dome (Or: A view from any seat)

Earlier in the month, Metallica came to the Netherlands for their Hardwired… to self-destruct European tour. Here’s a nifty photo that Marco took:

Metallica at Ziggo Dome, 2017

And yes, the stage is in the middle for this concert. Interesting setup!

Categories: The Hague | Tags: | 2 Comments

New York puzzles (Or: MTA subway map)

It’s been a while since I’ve done a puzzle (although ironically I received a new one as a gift last week!) but this one is near and dear to my heart. As some of you know, I like trams and metros and subways and…

NYC subway puzzle - 500 pieces - full view

So it should come as no surprise that the puzzle above – a map of the New York City subway – is so awesome!

NYC subway puzzle - close up of title

I bought it when Marco and I were in New York City earlier this summer – purchased at the New York Transit Museum store at Grand Central station. It is made by New York Puzzle Company.

NYC subway puzzle - close up of lower ManhattanUnfortunately it is only 500 pieces (I am more a fan of 1,000 pieces), however admittedly it does fit on the coffee table better… but due to its smaller size it took only 2-3 nights to complete.

NYC subway puzzle - close up of Brooklyn

I can’t say that I won’t be lost anymore in the subway, but at least it is fun to see how everything connects together!

NYC subway puzzle - close up of Central Park

Who knew that part of the subway runs under Central Park?

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Green and more green (Or: Algae-filled pond in Wassenaar)

Algae-filled pond in Wassenaar

Just a pond by a bus stop in Wassenaar, a city close to The Hague. Very green, but pretty in its own right.

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