An empty Malieveld (Or: Preparations for an anti-lockdown protest)

Earlier today I took a walk around the Malieveld, which you’ll know happens a few times a week. But this time there was an unexpected amount of police: a handful of police outside the area, another handful at the entrance, another 4 or 5 on bicycles, and another 5 or 6 in the far corner watching a stage being set up.

There wasn’t too much to see yet, but something was definitely about to happen. It turns out it was preparations for an anti-lockdown demonstration which would happen in the afternoon:

Of course, there’s not a lockdown as such, or at least not a lockdown like what other European countries have had. However they are also protesting against the 1.5 meters requirement that everyone has to follow.

The minister of Health is looking to create a new set of corona laws to replace the emergency ordinances each city has set up to deal with the corona crisis. The benefit of that is that the law would be the same throughout the country, versus differing based on what city you were in. But putting something in the law books does feel more tangible, more permanent. So it is easy to understand the angst that some citizens have over a crisis that might not go away next year, or even the year after, and the thought that this crisis has only taken away personal freedoms. (See also Nieuwe coronawet moet einde maken aan verwarring over maatregelen at rtlnieuws.nl).

There’s even the question of personal data being illegally used – right now in the Netherlands you need to make a reservation to eat inside a restaurant, and undergo a health check when you enter. What if that information later falls into the wrong hands? Speaking of which: Lek in RIVM-coronasite: gegevens van gebruikers makkelijk in te zien at nos.nl – there is apparently a significant data leak at a website run by the Dutch ministry of Health. The website allows Dutch residents to report if they have had corona-like symptoms in the last week. Opps.

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Follow the arrows (Or: Venestraat and The Passage)

Over the last few weeks more and more streets have received directional arrows to let people know which side of the street to walk on.

Above is the Venestraat, one of the shopping streets in the city centre. It’s a bit wider than the nearby Spuistraat, which has been named one of the 20 possible areas of concern in the new ‘one and a half meters community’ we find ourselves in (omroepwest.nl, article in Dutch).

Above is a look at The Passage, which has improved its one way traffic markers in the last month or so. When I last blogged about them in mid-May there were only tiny arrows at the entrance, much smaller than those you see above. So there have definitely been some improvements in The Passage.

In other news – after many months of sunshine and mockingly good weather, it has finally begun to rain. Technically parts of The Netherlands are experiencing drought-like conditions (nltimes.nl), so I suppose it’s probably a good thing. Even though we’d need more than a few days to fix that.

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Sneaky sneaky (Or: Shortcut through the Binnenhof)

Yesterday I went for a walk, part of which included the Binnenhof. But this time I took a different route than tourists normally take:

As you can see there’s a small pathway between the two buildings which you can use to get in and out of the Binnenhof area. It’s quite small and easily missed, even as a local. But if you do take the path, you’ll notice that there are windows that allow you to peek into the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives):

It’s nothing too special, except that I’m sure I’ve seen that room countless times on the national news (generally for interviews or occasionally when a member of the Tweede Kamer is desperately trying to avoid journalists and quickly escape up the escalator).

In other news:

  • There are now only 113 COVID-19 patients in the ICU, with 481 patients outside of the ICU (lcps.nu, article in Dutch). That’s very different from when I blogged about ICU beds back in late March when we had almost 1,000 patients. At the highest there were over 1,400 patients including 46 in Germany (nu.nl, article in Dutch). And speaking of Germany, the very last Dutch patient finally left a German ICU yesterday. Crazy.
  • During a press conference last night the Dutch prime minister announced that it would be possible to travel to certain other European countries from 15 June for vacation. Countries like Germany, Belguim, Italy and Croatia (nos.nl, article in Dutch). If you’re willing to risk it, of course… but everyone’s economies need a bit of help, that’s for sure.
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Hide and seek (Or: Zuidwalschool in The Hague)

Anyone up for a game of hide and seek?

Above is a cute photo of the school playground at Zuidwalschool, with a statue playing hide and seek in the right foreground and another statue hiding in the left background, by the tree. Can you see it?

In other news:

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Anne and Max café in The Hague (Or: Sitting pretty on the terrace)

Yesterday Marco and I took a long walk, skirting around the city centre to avoid crowds of people. We walked along the Zuidwal, which is both a street and a neighborhood within the larger Centrum neighborhood. For the most part it was easy to avoid others and it was a pretty walk along the canal. We did see a few boats drive past as well.

Near the end found ourselves near the Grote Kerk and spotted a café by the name of Anne and Max. I’ve seen it a lot although we’ve never gone to it. And yesterday was 1 June, the day restaurants and cafés were allowed to open again. After some pondering we did sit down at the terrace. None of the tables on our side were taken so it seemed safe enough. Still, it did feel weird as it was most likely our first terrace visit of the year due to the weather only being warm enough the last few weeks.

Above is a look at the menu with a closed one on the left and an open menu on the right. The light green insert on the left was added to talk about the changes in this new “corona time”. For instance, payment would be done at the table so you didn’t have to get up, and that walking paths had been made. Slightly surprising: the toilets were open, and with them promising they are disinfected every hour.

Marco ordered a Zindering (no idea how to translate that – if you know, leave a comment), which is an ice cold chai latte with an extra shot espresso. I had a ginger-lemongrass soda and we shared a slice of apple pie with whipped cream. Somehow we always end up ordering apple pie at new places. This apple pie was pretty good, although it was different than what I expected – I expected the top crumb to be a bit more crunchy. Still good, though.

Otherwise things seemed pretty normal. I wouldn’t say the waiter kept 1.5 meters distance perfectly, but a) that’s almost impossible b) the moments were limited to handing out the menus, receiving the food and paying.

The only thing that would have made the visit better would have been more sun. When you are moving around it isn’t too cold but sitting down meant it was easier to feel the wind every minute or so. Brr! I think businesses would have preferred more sun, but perhaps it was for the best as it meant that most places weren’t overflowing with guests. There was enough room in most places to take a seat right away and enjoy the goodies.

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The clock strikes 12 (Or: Bustling terraces in The Hague)

Today’s the day! As of 12:00 in The Netherlands, cafés and restaurants could again open their doors for both inside service and service on the terrace, with the former requiring reservations. I’ll admit my curiosity got the better of me so I set out to get some photos for the blog.

I suspected that the city centre would be rather busy so I took an alternative route to get around in the beginning. However in the end I found it was easy enough to move around safely due to the ban on cyclists this weekend on the Grote Markt street.

First up we have the Grote Markt plaza, which I was most curious about:

I’ll admit I really like what this area has done. They’ve kept it rather inviting and it is easy to see where there is a free table. The separate entrance and exit is clearly labeled and they even have colored flags placed down the aisle of the exit area, although it’s a bit hard to see in this photo.

Next we have a look at the terrace by ‘t Goude Hooft, a fancy restaurant/hotel combo:

And finally here is a look at the plein by the Buitenhof. Surprisingly there was still a lot of space left here, although the area pictured is a self-serve bar that has very limited food options. I’m always a fan of this place since you need to pay right away. That means you are never stuck at the end trying to flag down the waiter to get the bill. But I digress…

Two other interesting things I saw but did not take a photo of: six tourists on segways around the Binnenhof area. It was weird to see segways at all, let alone in these times, but they were speaking Dutch so they weren’t foreigners. The other interesting thing was a tiny, one person van with a loud speaker strapped to the top, from which they were broadcasting music quite loudly while driving around. Most likely to get everyone in the festive mood. The side of the van said “Hou je Haags”, an expression I blogged about a while back.

Did you realize we are now in June? Crazy. Bring on a (safe) summer! ☀️

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Flowers on a sunny day (Or: Blue skies and bursts of color)

Today’s walk took me along the Tournooiveld (tourney field), which – you guessed it – was home to many tourneys back in the 14th and 15th century. Shooting tourneys for the city militia to be exact.

The city has kindly set up beautiful flowers along the road:

In the background you can see the tram tracks for tram 15 and 16, heading towards Centraal station.

And a close up:

I’ve always been a fan of the flowers you find in The Hague. Sometimes it can be a bit hit or miss when they don’t replace them quick enough (for example the flowers along the Hofvijver are looking a bit sad at the moment) but they always choose the most beautiful ones to put out.

News of the day:

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Two different towers (And: A waiting seagull?)

A few weeks ago I took this photo of the Ridderzaal in the Binnenhof:

I believe this was the day Marco and I went for a walk and stopped briefly to bask in the sun. The clouds definitely caught my eye. But I didn’t notice until today that the Ridderzaal’s left tower looks slightly different than the right tower. Hmm. But maybe it was always that way? At least it looks to be that way since before World War I – check out this postcard on the Wikipedia article page. Also cool: back then the tram rode right along the building, on the left side of my photo above.

The Ridderzaal was built in the 13th century. It’s crazy to get random reminders about how old European countries are compared to the US. And what photo wouldn’t be complete with a few folks eating and a seagull patiently waiting hoping for some handouts (left side by the bench)?

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Natural beauty comes from within (Or: Grass wall in The Passage)

I’ll admit that The Passage is an often blogged about place for me. I’m definitely a fan of the “grass wall” they put in the newer part of the Passage:

Let’s see, in other news:

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Layers of green (Or: Another view of the Buitenhof)

Here is a look at the Buitenhof from the other side, facing Plaats (“Place”, a plaza in the city centre). Read more about the plaza at the Dutch Wikipedia article with Google translate active. That page includes an image of Johan de Witt’s statue, a politician who was murdered in the 17th century. According to one legend the statue points to the ground to show the spot he was murdered…

What drew my eye when taking this picture was the two different shades of green for the trees on the island in the middle of the Buitenhof.

Random link of the day: a group of business owners from the city of Utrecht have created a YouTube video celebrating the opening of hotels, restaurants and cafés this coming Monday:

The song is Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life, with a different text.

And today it was announced that the long anticipated Formula 1 race coming to Zandvoort is officially cancelled (article from dutchtimes.nl). The reason? It was going to be the first F1 race in The Netherlands since 1985 and the track organizers didn’t want to race without fans being able to come and experience it. (I think the real reason is there is no possible way they could keep the fans away, regardless of what they did.)

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