Rotterdam Rooftop Walk (Or: A unique, limited time view)

Rotterdam will be hosting Rotterdam Rooftop Walk (official website in English) from 26 May through 24 June. It reminds me a bit of New York City’s The High Line, except on a smaller scale and for a limited duration.

Here is an artist’s impression, from the official website:

Note the temporary bridge connecting the two buildings. It looks pretty high up to me!

The tickets are €3.50 for adults, with kids entering free. There are also tours and other events going on between 3 June and 5 June, during the Rotterdam Rooftop Festival. The organization also has a live stream set up so you can watch the construction. To be honest it might just be a cool to look at the city itself, even without the rooftop construction going on!

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Naked tram rails (Or: A look at tram 16’s construction)

This year the tram tracks for tram 16 are being re-done to allow for the new Avenio tram (htm.nl, in English). The Avenio tram is wider so almost the entire track needs to be re-done to accommodate this.

This area is not far from the Buitenhof / Hofvijfer / Dutch parliament. You can see the parliament buildings in the background on the right side. Due to the construction tram 16 is currently taking the route of tram 1 on its way to Statenkwartier. You can read more about the construction over at denhaag.nl in English. The end of the route, Statenkwartier, will be tackled in the second half of this year. At that point tram 16 will ride over the route of tram 3 for part of its journey. The expectation is that everything will be done by March 2023.

For the most part I am a fan of Avenio trams, especially as they are level with the ground so you don’t need to go up or down a few stairs like you do with the old trams. (That came in handy once when I bought something heavy. Distance wise I could have easily walked home but due to how heavy it was I decided to take one of the Avenio trams to get closer to my house.) It is of course also helpful if you have a stroller or luggage.

The only thing I don’t like about the Avenio trams is that both sides are two seaters. The old trams are a bit narrower and have 2 seaters on the left side and single seaters on the right. When I am traveling alone I always go for a single seat or I stand.

The color of the Avenio tram (omroepwest.nl in Dutch) will slowly be changing from red-black to white-red between now and the end of 2023. As each tram comes in for maintenance it will be updated. I did see one in the wild already last month but I didn’t have time to take a photo. The Hague’s public transportation company HTM is doing this because it is easier to see white-red than it is black-red, so it is a bit safer for traffic.

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200 year anniversary (Or: Tulips by the Mauritshuis)

This year the Mauritshuis museum (official website) in The Hague’s city centre is celebrating their 200 year anniversary. This spring they are celebrating with flowers, both inside and out.

The front of the museum is decorated in flowers, as you can see above. There are also large flower pots out in the front with tulips on display (see the crowd milling around by the front door). The “In Full Bloom” exhibit runs through 6 June. In Pictures: A Luscious Floral Art Show Is Blooming at the Mauritshuis Museum, Inside and Out from artnet.com.

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Changing of the flags (Or: The end of the Invictus Games)

The Hague was host to the 2020 Invictus Games (English Wikipedia) last month. Like so many things, it was postponed for two years due to Covid-19. The Invictus Games are for injured, wounded or ill military personnel (active or veteran). It ran from April 16 through April 2022 with about 500 athletes from 17 countries competing.

I noticed today that they were taking down the Invictus Games flags from the Buitenhof:

Here it is from another angle, where you can see the provincial flags better:

In total there are 12 flags for the Dutch provinces and 1 flag for The Hague. In the background is the outside of the Binnenhof (English Wikipedia). It is currently closed for renovation. At the moment they are hoping to finishing the renovations by the end of 2026. We’ll see…

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A day to sell all of your stuff (Or: King’s Day)

So last time I talked about King’s Night, which is when you go to music festivals, drink overpriced beer, and dance like a maniac. Oh, and try to avoid being pickpocketed–apparently the police found a 13 year old and 20 year old with a bag full of 21 stolen telephones on King’s Day (article in Dutch over at omroepwest.nl). Sheesh.

In contrast, King’s Day itself is about selling cheap stuff. This is the one day a year it is legal for anyone to sell their old furniture, toys, books, you name it. Well, anything except food. Almost all cities ban that. I didn’t get any photos of these vrijmarkten (free markets) this year, but check out my post from way back in 2012 (!). Back when it was Queen’s Day, before she abdicated the throne and became Princess Beatrix. Marco took those photos for me since I was till living in America back then.

One thing I did get photos of was the flower sale at the Lange Voorhout. It was quite colorful, and not just because of the flowers:

These juichcapes (cheer capes) were sold by the grocery chain Jumbo last summer when there were a lot of high profile sporting events going on (Tour de France, Dutch Grand Prix, UEFA Euro Cup, etc.).

Lots of color here too!

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The Life I Live festival 2022 (Or: King’s Night in The Hague)

Tonight is the 10th anniversary of The Life I Live festival. Note: their website is definitely experiencing server capacity issues, so it is a bit hit or miss to visit it right now.

The last edition was of course in 2019. It is held in The Hague’s city centre, with musical acts spread out over about 8-10 stages. The opener this year was the Ukrainian band Go_A. Last year they participated in the Eurovision Song festival held in Rotterdam. This year the band got special permission from the Ukrainian government to travel to The Hague to perform (as technically Ukrainian men are not supposed to leave Ukraine right now).

This stage was at the Lange Voorhout not far from the Escher museum and Hotel Des Indes.

This smaller stage was on the opposite end of the Lange Voorhout, featuring the band Kuzko. I didn’t stay long, but they really brought the bass! It was a weird feeling to feel the bass after not going to any concerts the last two years.

King’s Night (and more accurately King’s Day) is a holiday to celebrate the birth of the Dutch King Willem Alexander who turns 55 tomorrow. The joke “Max komt misschien later…” is a joke that Max Verstappen, the 2021 F1 world champion, might stop by here later. Hmm.

(Man, I still remember when it was weird to see Willem Alexander with a beard!)

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King’s Day 2022 (Or: Do you have your “orange” yet?)

This coming Wednesday is King’s Day here in the Netherlands, a public holiday for most of us. The larger Dutch cities like The Hague and Amsterdam also have parties to celebrate. The Hague has “The Life I Live” festival (official website in Dutch) traditionally held the evening before, dubbed King’s Night. This free musical festival is held throughout the city centre. This year there are 8 small stages for artists to perform. The Ukrainian band Go_A will open the festival.

I suspect things will get a bit insane Tuesday evening as the event has not been held for the last two years due to corona. The 2019 edition drew 275,000 visitors for those two days (omroepwest.nl, in Dutch), so it will be interesting to see how many we get this year. The local transportation company HTM runs an alternate route due to how congested the city centre gets. (I must admit it is kind of fun to walk down the middle of the street and not worry about cars or trams.) HTM and the national train service will also add extra night buses and trains to help everyone get home at the end of the evening.

But why did I mention orange in this post’s title? Because everyone wears orange, of course! Well, the tourists and the diehard Dutchies do, at any rate. Here is a look at the King’s Day merchandise at Xenos:

See also my post about King’s Day 2018.

Anyone else remember the attempt to rename Koningsdag to Woningsdag for the first year of the pandemic? Woning = home, so it was an attempt to be clever and tell people to be safe and celebrate the holiday from home.

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Coming along nicely (Or: Amare cultural complex in The Hague)

Amare is the cultural complex that opened last year. Progress has also been made around the building, including the side. It actually looks pretty good now, which is important considering this area is the walkway between the central train station (behind this photo) and the city centre (ahead of this photo). For some months only a tiny sliver of walkway was open on the right side, about 5 feet across… Not fun when you have pedestrians and cyclists competing for the same space, let me tell you. Either way, we have come a long way from this graffiti-filled construction area two years ago.

Here is another look at the flowers in the front. You can still see some construction off on the right side, where they aren’t quite done yet.

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Easter weekend (Or: Everyone is out and about)

This is the first weekend where it has truly felt like “everything is back to normal”. For instance the festival Paaspop (“Easter pop”) was held this past weekend. Back in early 2020 it was the first large festival to be cancelled and now it is the first large festival to be held again. The outdoor terraces are also full as everyone has flocked outside to bake in the sun a bit. (In the Netherlands, most people get Easter Monday off.)

Speaking of outdoor terraces, Marco and I were just at a local Bagels & Beans to get some coffee and banana bread. The coffee was a mocchaccino to be more specific. How hipster of us. And the banana bread was made with walnuts and dark chocolate. Yum yum.

We also took a long walk around the city centre to soak up some more sun. Here is a look at the Hofvijver:

You can’t really tell in the above photo, but the area was very crowded with everyone having the same idea. There was also a market in the area as well.

I think this might have been the first day of the year that I went outside without a jacket on (although I find a long sleeve shirt to wear). Bring on the sun! ☀️

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Not yet 40 (Or: Happy birthday to me)

Marco and I just celebrated my birthday with a small cozy session of gourmetten for dinner. (Small meats and veggies cooked on a mini grill at the table, see other posts about this topic.) Next year will be the big 4-0, but this year I will happily settle for the slightly smaller 3-9.

Here is a look at the birthday card and present my father-in-law and his wife made for me!

The joke present is on the left. Can you guess what it means if you don’t speak Dutch? I will give you a hint. “Leeftijd = age”.

No? It basically means, in less polite terms, “who gives a crap about your age”. Hence the emoji and toilet roll, haha. The card is on the right. As usual, another beautiful handmade card from them.

Until next year!

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