After four years (Or: Pearl Jam back in the Netherlands)

This week shall officially be dubbed as ‘Pearl Jam week’ as they had three shows in the Netherlands. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Ziggo dome and Saturday at Pinkpop, a huge outdoors festival. The last time they visited was four years ago, which I was a bit shocked by.

Pearl Jam in the Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam, June 12 2018

The first night four of us went: Marco, myself, Roger and my mother-in-law. We had fan club tickets, specifically standing tickets, which meant we could go in a half hour before everyone else. It does have the downside that you need to pick up your tickets the day of at the box office as you are required to show an ID, though.

We arrived around 2:30. Let’s just say the line for getting the tickets was over an hour and the line for merchandise was about an hour and a half… So we did some divide and conquer: Roger and Marco got the tickets, while my mother-in-law and I got the merchandise – posters. There are unique posters for each Pearl Jam concert (Marco and Roger got them all).

Tuesday’s poster | Wednesday’s poster | Saturday’s poster

Marco also picked up a new ‘Safe travels‘ keychain, to replace the one he got about ten years ago.

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Categories: Friends&Family, Marco&Niki | Tags: | 2 Comments

Beauty in the moment (Or: World Championship Sand Sculpting 2018)

If you are looking for something to do in The Hague this summer, check out the sand sculptures at the Lange Voorhout. The World Championship Sand Sculpting 2018 is going on at the moment, with judging happening tomorrow. After that, the sculptures can be seen until 19 August! It will also be lighted at night, making it easy to visit at any moment.

The competition is held every three years. This year the Netherlands is the host country, with Japan, Singapore, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Great Britain, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic competing. The theme is ‘200 years of sea, sand and …’ which also highlights Scheveningen’s Feest aan zee celebration.

Here’s a peek at how the sculptures look so far. First a look at the sculpture from the Netherlands (as the host country, they cannot enter the judging):

World sand sculpting championship 2018 - Netherlands

200 years ago: The wife looks back at the past longingly, while the husband looks forward to the future and what Scheveningen can be

Other sculptures include:

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Categories: The Hague | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Buying an OV-chipkaart (Or: Your ticket to freedom)

The OV-chipkaart (OV=openbaar vervoer=public transportation, chipkaart=chip card) is used throughout the Netherlands as a means for paying for a public transportation journey, be it train, tram, bus…

The card is used to check in and check out by holding the card against a reader as the traveler enters and exits the vehicle. Useful, but it can cause delays at some of the more crowded stops. When I travelled to Dublin I was intrigued by having the check-in and check-out machines at each of the stops rather than inside of the vehicle – it saves some boarding time that way, although the costs are higher for having machines at every stop.

The OV-chipkaarts expire after 5 years. Ironically, all of this household’s OV chipkaarts (5 in total) expired within a few months of each other. But this gave me the opportunity to visit the HTM-service desk at The Hague Centraal, which I hadn’t yet had an excuse to do.  And of course I dragged Marco along to experience the fun.

HTM brochure for traveling with an OV chipkaart

Information booklet for traveling with an OV-chipkaart, with information in Dutch, English and German. Handy for the tourists!

It was around 16:30 on a workday, and already fairly busy inside the service area. The area is serviced both by HTM as well as by NS, the national train company. We didn’t have to wait too long to get helped. Each card costs €7.50, before adding any funds on it. Luckily the HTM worker mentioned that the option to use the card to travel by train (NS) needed to be added manually, otherwise we would have been in for a surprise!

In this case we asked for anonymous cards (the blue variety) which can be used by anyone. There’s a few minor differences between those and personalized cards (yellow variety) – the main difference being that personalized cards can be automatically re-filled when they hit a minimum amount, for instance. But generally anonymous cards work fine.

Marco and I also both got information booklets on traveling with an OV-chipkaart, as you can see above. Not strictly required, but always fun to read (for me!).

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Five Guys (Or: Just a few days to go!)

It’s official – Five Guys opens this Monday in The Hague!

Five Guys location in The Hague

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Friday night cuisine (Or: Homemade beef noodle pho soup)

So… Friday night Marco and I made beef noodle pho soup. Marco was inspired by the chicken pho soup he had at Little V here in the Hague.

Some highlights for giving the broth depth: a whole onion burned over the stove oventop, entire pieces of ginger, cinnamon sticks, and similar. Slow cook it for a few hours, then strain it…

But the coolest thing about this dish? The beef is cut into thin strips and placed into the bowl. You then pour the broth over it to near-instantly cook it:

Cooking beef strips with a hot broth

And here is a look at the final dish, with spring onions, julienne carrots, coriander, chives, bean sprouts and red peppers…

Homemade beef noodle pho soup

And a bonus picture of a salmon curry (with accompanying naan bread) that we made last week:

Salmon curry with naan bread

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Almost there (Or: Five guys coming to The Hague)

Did you know Five Guys is coming to The Hague? And not five guys, but Five Guys Burgers and Fries. This American chain will be coming to the city centre at Spui 10, just a few doors down from the KFC and near the Centrum tram/bus stop. It is not open yet, but it looks to open any-day-now.

They sell burger, fries, milkshakes, and… wait, beer? That’s quite Dutch and not something you would see in the American locations.

What do you need to know about Five Guys?

  • they have a free-style coke machine for endless drink options
  • the burgers have set prices, regardless of the amount of toppings
  • they offer free peanuts-in-the-shell to eat while you wait for your order

I was excited to see this photo from Marco:

Five Guys construction site in The Hague 2

And this photo is from earlier in the week – more signage is now visible behind the construction walls. They are very close to being done, so hopefully an opening date is announced soon!

With all of the above being said, I can fully see why Amsterdam refused to give Five Guys a license to open there (article in Dutch). Amsterdam is trying to reduce the amount of fast food options, not expand them. It’s possible that Five Guys can adapt their concept to better qualify (more seating, no counter service, more time to eat) but even that isn’t a guarantee.

Categories: Food, The Hague | 2 Comments

SUN! and music (Or: Bevrijdingsfestival in The Hague)

The Netherlands is enjoying a rare dose of sun this weekend! And like all good Dutchies, this means going outside to a café or restaurant and baking under the sun for a few hours.

Flowers at the Hof House in The Hague

Flowers at the Hof House https://www.hofhouse.nl

This afternoon Marco, Roger and I went to the Bevrijdingsfestival in The Hague. Bevrijdingsdag, or Liberation Day, is celebrated on May 5 each year. The day commemorates the end of Nazi occupation during World War II. The day before, May 4, commemorates the Remembrance of the Dead.

Bevrijdingsfestival in The Hague, 2018

One of the music stages at the festival

Bevrijdingsfestival music in The Hague, 2018

Another music stage, in the background. The woman in yellow is receiving a ‘Dutch kiss’ (the custom where you kiss each other on the cheek three times to say hello or goodbye).

Vrijheid display at the Bevrijdingsfestival in The Hague, 2018

Vrijheid = Freedom

And do you see what the letters are made of, above? Juliper beer crates! (Juliper is one of the sponsors of the event.)

Now if you excuse me, I will go back to basking in the sun…

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

King’s Night and Day (Or: Carnivals, festivals, and more)

The Netherlands celebrated the five year reign of Willem-Alexander Thursday night and Friday, with King’s Night and King’s Day. I can’t believe it has been that long. I still remember seeing the live, breaking news of Princess Beatrix abdicating the throne (video with English subtitles). I had barely been in the Netherlands a month, and was watching the news without having a clue what she was saying. There are no subtitles on live TV unfortunately…

First, we’ll start with the carnival at the Malieveld which is held every year around this day:

Carnival ride at Maliveld, The Hague, for King's Day

I could probably handle this ride.

Carnival ride at Maliveld, The Hague, for King's Day 2

Nope. Won’t be going on this one. It was pretty cool to watch though.

And then you had The Life I Live festival in The Hague, held every year on King’s night. A dozen or so music stages are set up throughout the city centre.

Stage at the King's Night party in The Hague

A smaller stage

Stage at the King's Night party in The Hague 2

Here is a much larger set up, at Het Plein (literally ‘the plaza’)

Buitenhof fountain during King's Night in The Hague

The fountain at Het Buitenhof, with the Ferris wheel from the previously mentioned carnival at the Maliveld in the background

Tram on King's Day, The Hague

And finally, a historic tram passing by during King’s Day on Friday

I still need to buy something orange for King’s Day. I’ve managed to not do that in the 5+ years I have been here. Related, amusing blog post about orange clothes and King’s Day: The King Size King’s Day T-Shirt blog post over at the Invading Holland blog.

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Another lazy library day (Or: On to the next book)

What can I say? Sitting in the library café in the morning sipping an iced coffee is the best.

Reading Haruki Murakami at the library

A lovely Saturday morning at the library

This morning I finished part 2 of Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatorea book first mentioned in the last post. It is about a painter, estranged from his wife and temporarily living in an old house in the mountains as its caretaker. The original owner, famed painter Amada Tomohiko, suffers from dementia and resides in a nursing home.

The story unfolds with the ringing of a bell… the simple ringing of a bell. Somehow ringing from beneath a burial mound, beneath countless immovable rocks, at the edge of an old shrine. But when the bell is dug up by the narrator and his rich neighbor, strange events begin to occur and Amada Tomohiko’s past is uncovered, bit by bit. Sweeping the narrator up in its wake.

Categories: Reading | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Days off (Or: Musings in the library)

This past Friday was my birthday. And what better way to celebrate that then taking the day off from work? I am currently in the middle of reading Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore, a novel published over two volumes (about 500 pages each!).

Thus Friday morning was a treat to myself: I went to the central library, ordered an iced coffee, and sat down in the café to read the second volume. In Dutch.

Two reasons that I mention that it was in Dutch:

  1. For some reason this novel won’t be released in English until October. Part 1 has been out since November in Dutch, and part two has been out since January. It’s crazy (but cool) to know you are reading something — and can read something — that hasn’t even been released in English yet.
  2. At some point during the morning I realized that there was a conversation going on to the right of me, at another table. Two women were talking in a mixture of Dutch and English, but since I had my headphones in I hadn’t realized right away. After a few minutes and based on the content of the conversation, I realized that it was probably a taalcoach and taalmaatje (language coach and student) from SamenSpraak.

And it was at that moment when I realized I have come a long way in the last five years, from barely knowing any Dutch to being 700 pages into what is effectively a 1,000+ page novel.

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