First time voter in the Netherlands (Or: Local elections tomorrow)

Tomorrow most of the Netherlands goes to the polls for local elections. This will be the first time I can vote in the Netherlands! This is because I have lived in the Netherlands for five uninterrupted years.

Here is a picture of my stempas (voting card) with personal information greyed out:

Stempas or voting pass for The Hague, 2018

The card arrived in the mail a few weeks back, automatically. In the Netherlands every person is required to register with the municipality under the Basisregistratie Personen (BRP)  or the Personal Records Database. I did that within a few days of moving to the country. It records life’s big moments – birth, marriage, divorce, and death, along with address changes. The database is used to determine who can vote for what. (In my case, I can vote for the local elections but I will never be able to vote for anything higher unless I obtain Dutch citizenship.)

There are some good sites available for voters, both in English and in Dutch. In this case, I tend to seek out information in English due to the nature of what I am reading, but I also supplement it with information in Dutch. For example, has some information and links available for expat voters.

There are, of course, various polls available to see which party matches your interests the best. For example, Stemwijzer Den Haag (knowledge of Dutch required).

Finally, here’s a look at what the ballot looks like.

Categories: Daily Dutch living, The Hague | Tags: | Leave a comment

A watcher (Or: Statue at the Veenkade)

The great thing about The Hague (and the Netherlands in general) is the random artwork and statues that can be found in the city. Here was a recent photo of mine:

Statue at the Veenkade, The Hague

And here is a close up of the statue:

Close up of the statue at the Veenkade, The Hague

It is on the Veenkade, near De Bieb and the old library, before it moved to the Spui.

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Five Guys Burgers and Fries (Or: I am jealous of Utrecht)

Marco had the good luck of being in Utrecht recently, although he wouldn’t describe it as good luck because he was there for work. But he did have the good luck to be able to visit the recently opened Five Guys Burgers and Fries. This American fast food restaurant opened its first location in Arlington, Virginia back in 1986. You can read more about the history of Five Guys.

I think for me the appeal is the simple menu. They mainly sell burgers and fries (duh) with a few hotdogs and sandwiches on the side. Of course they need to have a grilled cheese (tosti) to cater to the Dutch crowd.

Here is the menu in English:

Five Guys in Utrecht - English menu

(Did you see that in the milkshakes section they encourage you to add bacon to any shake?)

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Reester bunny (Or: Chocolate and eggs everywhere)

Today Marco and I went to Kelly’s Expat Shopping here in The Hague. It’s a great store for American and British food and a store I’ve blogged about before. The one thing I get almost every time is Ritz crackers. Yum! Snagged another box today…

I was quite amused by the “Reester bunny” you could buy:

Reese's chocolate bunny (Or Reester bunny)

Their Easter selection is pretty good when it comes to chocolate, I must admit. Lots of Cadbury eggs.

Pop or soda for 10 euros - 12 pack

Did you know it costs 10 euros for a 12 pack of pop/soda? And that’s a discounted price! Back home you could get it for 2/$5 during the right sale. Of course, that’s just how it goes when you’re an expat so far from home.

And here is a fun photo from the Albert Heijn XL on Elandstraat:

Chocolate easter eggs for sale at Albert Heijn XL, The HagueAnyone need any chocolate eggs? There are lots of flavors to choose from… But still, it doesn’t compare to the Reester bunny. Don’t you just want to nibble on those ears?

Categories: Food, Holidays, The Hague | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Screaming kids (Or: A signal that Rutte is near by)

A few weeks ago I was walking in the area of the Buitenhof (Dutch parliament). I heard a bit of (positive) screaming, as if someone had spotted a rock star. I look over but only see a group of school kids on the other side of the road (by the Buitenhof / the lake, where the red line starts). I’m on the other side, closer to Plaats/Museum de Gevangepoort.

View of the Buitenhof in The Hague, Google maps

Strange, I think to myself. I keep walking. The screaming intensifies. I look over again, and realize a few of the kids have broken from the group and are running along the water (towards the yellow star – don’t you love how I annotate a Google Maps photo?).

Obviously I know I am not the cause of their affection, so I glance around again. And then realize the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is walking about 5 meters / 15 feet in front of me. No security to be seen (it’s not like he is Wilders). Cool, I think. I debate grabbing my phone for a photo for the blog, but decide against it. That would be weird.

Now most of the kids are screaming. I see him laugh as he waves to the kids, which only increases their adoration. I remember thinking to myself at least they are smart enough not to dart off into traffic to say hi – they merely keep running on their side of the street to keep up with him.

He then cuts left and crosses the street to their side (brave man) by where the yellow star is and the statue of King Willem II. Rutte is then surrounded by a wall of kids, luckily still tall enough to be seen. He graciously allows his photo to be taken with the group, which cause a final, resounding scream of joy.

I then decide, hey, I want a picture too!

It’s hard to tell because he is wearing a black jacket, but he is at the base of the tree (you can see his face).

School children surrounding Dutch prime minister Rutte.jpg

What surprised me the most was the kids’ reaction for a politician – how happy they were to catch a glimpse of him. But it was fun to experience it.

Categories: The Hague | Tags: | 2 Comments

Just a bit of snow (Or: Buitenhof in the winter)

The Netherlands has been under a cold spell recently. The wind changed direction and started coming from Siberia. No joke. There was one day with a temperature that felt like -20c (-4f). Brrr! 

But it did bring out some nice photos, including one of mine:

Snow on the Buitenhof, The Hague.jpg

I am happy to report that the wind changed direction on Sunday, so the breeze bit of snow is now gone again. Not that I have anything against snow, but this country definitely doesn’t know how to deal with it.

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Kinder eggs (Or: An unexpected surprise in the Target aisle)

As my last two blog posts have mentioned, Roger, Marco and I were in the States last month. It was over a month ago that we flew there, eek!

Imagine our surprise when we were going up and down the aisles at Target (a department store which also contains a pretty large food section). It is something we always do in the States – find a Target and/or a grocery store and just check out the offerings and decide what we want to bring back. I have a photo of Marco jokingly holding five large bags of Synder’s Hot Buffalo Wing pretzels, for instance. 🙂 I think he settled on opening one bag during the trip and bringing two unopened bags back in our luggage…

But that’s not surprising. What is surprising is seeing a Kinder egg for sale! In the States!

No longer banned in the US - Kinder Joy eggs

This was illegal due to a 1938 Food and Drug Administration regulation, because of what it is: candy with a toy (wrapped in plastic) inside the chocolate shell. After I got back from vacation I looked up how we could possibly come across this item. It turns out that Kinder Joy is a variant legally sold in America because it completely separates the candy from the toy with two sealed halves. The Italian company which makes them (Ferrero) first started delivering them exclusively to Wal-Mart in late November for 30 days and then any American store from January of this year.

According to this article: “The Kinder Joy, the version that will soon be available in the U.S., comes in a plastic egg-shaped package comprised of two separately sealed halves. One half contains an edible treat made of two soft cream layers: one is sweet milk cream-flavored and one is cocoa-flavored. Nestled into the creamy layers are two round, chocolate-covered wafer bites that are filled with a sweet cocoa cream that’s soft enough to be eaten with the included spoon. The other half of the egg contains a surprise: a non-edible toy.”

You can see a picture of the Kinder Joy egg and what it looks like when opened (including the toy that still needs assembling) over on Wikipedia. And here is another fun link: “Why the FDA doesn’t like chocolate eggs with toys inside“.

And there you have it – the story of how American kids can experience the joy of a Kinder Egg. Pun possibly intended.

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Still cold (Or: More photos from the States)

Here are some more photos from the trip Marco, Roger and I took last month! Two last photos from Philadelphia and the rest from New York City (I’ll skip the overly touristy photo of the Liberty Bell in Philly although that was also fun and suprisingly free).

Washington crossing the Delaware bronze sculpture, Chestnut and 3rd in Philadelphia

Bronze sculpture of Washington crossing the Delaware

The above sculpture can be found at the intersection of Chestnut and 3rd in Philadelphia.

Last supper artwork at Lucha Cartel restaurant, Philadelphia

Artwork in the Lucha Cartel restaurant in Philadelphia

The above might take a bit of explaining! There’s a Mexican restaurant in Philadelphia by the name of Lucha Cartel. It’s actually in Old City on the east side of Philly. It is a reference to luchadors, who are masked Mexican wrestlers. It was very close to our hotel. And you guessed it – the artwork is actually many skate boards placed next to each other. It was a great restaurant (both food and theming) and I highly recommend it.

And now on to New York City…

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Off to the States (Or: One cold but cool vacation)

Marco, Roger and I returned last week from a vacation to Philadelphia and New York City. It was cold! Though we noticed that it was just as cold in the Netherlands when we returned last Tuesday.

The first part of the trip was being tourists in Philadelphia. It was also interesting because it was the first time Marco and I stayed at an Airbnb (Roger had experience during a trip last year). It worked out well, but I am not sure how I would feel about sharing an apartment with a stranger. Since there were three of us and we needed two bedrooms this was not an issue during our trip.

Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia

We ended up staying in the area of Rittenhouse Square (above). This was taken the night we arrived, so we were basically walking around trying to stay awake.

Spirit of transportation mural at 30th Street station in Philadelphia

“Spirit of transportation” mural at 30th street station in Philadelphia

Above is artwork in the 30th street station. We ended up here because we flew to Newark, NJ and then took a train to Philadelphia for the first part of our trip.

Rocky steps at Philadelphia Museum of Art

“Rocky” steps!

Here’s where I admit I have never seen the Rocky movies (and have no interest in doing so). But still, when you are in Philadelphia it is pretty much a requirement to take a picture of the steps made famous by the movie. The building itself is the Philadelphia Art museum. The city erected a statue in honor of Rocky off to the right, just out of view of this photo.

Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary 

One of the highlights of the trip for me was Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary which was abandoned but offers tours these days. Best part? Realizing the design of the jail inspired the design of the jail in SimCity.

Korean War Memorial in Philadelphia at Penn's landing

The Philadelphia Korean War Memorial at Penn’s Landing

Over on the east side of the city (with Camden, NJ just on the other side of the river!) we visited the Korean War Memorial (above).

Graffiti at Penns Landing in Philadelphia

Finally, some awesome graffiti at Penn’s Landing.

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Brooklyn (Or: Burgers and steaks!)

Marco, Roger and I visited Brooklyn burgers and steaks in Scheveningen a few weeks back. Marco had a Mexican burger and I had a classic burger.

Check out Roger’s New York strip steak:

Steak at Brooklyn burgers and steaks, Scheveningen

He approved!

And here’s my apple pie with powdered sugar on top:

Apple pie at Brooklyn burger and steaks, Scheveningen.jpg

Interesting thing about this apple pie… I actually didn’t want it, but I got tripped up with my Dutch. I wanted to say “bakje koffie” (small cup of coffee) but instead said “gebakje koffie”. Gebak is the word for dessert/pastry. Since Marco and Roger had both ordered apple pie and coffee before me, that’s what she thought I wanted. Opps. It was good though! I just had to make room…

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

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