Monthly Archives: January 2013

Celebrations (Or: My VVR has arrived)

Today I checked the mailbox after coming back from the library. I noticed another letter from the IND. My VVR (identification card) was ready for pick up! Twenty days after the appointment with the IND – not too bad.

So I took a trip to Stadhoudersplein 24 (where the main IND/Gemeente offices are in The Hague) to pick up my identification card. I am now 100% legal and have an official address in the Netherlands. Most amusingly, the back of the card has Marco’s name on it, as he is my registered partner.

To celebrate, Marco and I went to Athene Palace, a Greek restaurant in The Hague which I have blogged about before. This time I had #102 (Rhodosschotel), which has lamb chops, chicken filet, souflaki and gyros.

Athene Palace in Den Haag 2

As is the typical Dutch tradition, afterwards we had a cup of coffee (cappuccino for Marco).

Athene Palace in Den Haag

And near the end of the meal, the conversation switched to our upcoming wedding later this year. Offiicially we couldn’t do much stuff with the wedding until now, as I needed to be an official resident of The Hague.

But now it is time for wedding talk… it’s happening!

Athene Palace in Den Haag 3


Categories: Forms, etc., The Hague | Tags: | 1 Comment

Accordions (Or: Playing in The Hague)

On my way home yesterday from Albert Heijn, I saw some gentlemen playing instruments:

accordion player in The Hague

Along with the accordionist, there was also a saxophone player, but he is pretty hidden.

Just in front of the accordionist, you can also see a pigeon. They are attracted by a local fish market and usually have fierce competition for food with the seagulls who come in from the nearby sea.

As you can see, the ice and snow finallllly melted around here. The temperature rose to about 40F (4C) on Sunday and hasn’t looked back since. Of course, the rain all day Sunday definitely helped. But for now I have said goodbye to my snow boots and put my sneakers back on!

It’s always interesting to walk the streets. Today I was stopped by someone trying to sell local newspapers. When I explained that I didn’t know that much Dutch*, he stated that he was trying to sell a newspaper but it only came in Dutch, so it wouldn’t be that useful for me, but would I give him a bit of spare change anyway?

* = I will only be able to use that excuse for so long, as Invader Stu mentions. I already have that particular phrase pretty perfected…

Categories: Culture, The Hague | Leave a comment

Media Markt (Or: BTW-free sale)

The annual sale that Media Markt holds (tax free, or a 21% reduction in price) ended yesterday. This is the sale Marco used last year to get his refrigerator tax free. We went a few times to look at washing machines and sound systems. As you can imagine, the place was a madhouse on Saturday (although this picture was taken a bit earlier in the day when it wasn’t as crowded).

Mediamarkt btw free sale

The savings on big ticket items were pretty substantial (a €600 item would cost only €500), but it was amusing to see toasters for €22 discounted to €18 or so…

Categories: Shopping | Tags: | Leave a comment

Albert Heijn (Or: Barcode scanners for self checkout)

Today Marco and I went to the Albert Heijn in Rijswijk. This location was actually “Albert Heijn XL”, meaning that it is a pretty large version with more variety in stock. One of the perks that this store has is the option to do self-checkout using a barcode scanner.

Albert Heijn barcode scanner

green beans (brand name), applesauce, and potatoes

To do the self-checkout you first need to pick up a barcode scanner near the front entrance. You scan your bonus card and one of the many scanners available (50 or so) lights up to let you know which one to grab. You then take it and scan each item that you put into your basket.

At the very end of your shopping you go to the self-checkout area and place the barcode scanner back into its holder and scan your barcode. It then takes the information from the scanner and charges you that amount. Afterwards you pay and bag your stuff (but it is not like America where the weight of the bag is checked). The last step is scanning your receipt, which if successful will allow you to exit the self-checkout area and be on your way.

And you don’t even have to wait in line!

Categories: Everyday purchases | Tags: | 2 Comments

Stamppot (Or: A Dutch tradition)

Today’s dinner was stamppot, which is usually potatoes matched with a vegetable. This version used sauerkraut mixed in with mashed potatoes. As Dutch are inclined to do, Marco mashed a hole in the middle of the mix to add gravy. The on-the-side meat was smoked sausage.

Dutch stamppot meal

It actually was pretty good, although admittedly I was still in the “it’s slightly sour mashed potatoes” frame of mind, except when the texture stated otherwise. ;p I probably could have mixed the sausages in, but I am the type of person that eats one food at a time and doesn’t mix that much.

Categories: Culture, Food | 4 Comments

Magnetic poetry (Or: In the public library of The Hague)

When I was in the central library last week in The Hague, I came across a poetry exhibition using magnetic poetry:

magnetic poetry at The Hague public library

I had a few magnetic sets of my own over the years, but they ended up just gathering dust in my closet. I did give instructions to Mom to give them to the neighbor’s kids if they were interested, so maybe the random joy of making (and destroying) poems can come alive again.

Categories: The Hague | Tags: | 2 Comments

Dutch apps (Or: Guess Words)

This game has been added to the Dutch Apps page.

Guess Words is a Hangman type app made for Dutch, English, French and German. English is the default language but you can switch to Dutch in the settings.

Guess Words Dutch hangman app

This app does not get the best reviews, but if you are looking to learn random vocabulary, it should be useful. When you first start to learn Dutch, this app might be more frustrating than helpful because you do not have a large vocabulary to work with. Instead, you will just find yourself picking random letters (usually vowels or R, S, T!) in the hopes that something will pop up.

The free version is limited to five letter words, although the paid version allows for three to seven letter words. This app also gives you the option of entering a word yourself (up to 12 letters) and then having your partner guess it.

Categories: Apps, Learning Dutch | Tags: | Leave a comment

Oral tests (Or: Speaking in Dutch)

Today I had my oral test at Volksuniversiteit, to see what class I could sign up for. I wanted to go for the A2 halfbeginners course, but I needed to take an oral test to prove that my level was good enough for that class. I called the line this morning (Ik spreek een beetje Nederlands, maar spreek u engels of niet? I speak a little Dutch, but do you speak English or no?)

To my surprise, they were able to schedule me for an oral test tonight at 7pm. Which meant that Marco and I had to rush through dinner a bit (chicken stir fry, yum) but it worked out. And it meant getting it over with quickly before I stressed about it too much.

It would be the first time I took a bus alone, not counting the times I have gone to Marco’s work. But I did ask Marco to come with me to the bus stop I needed to wait at, which proved quite helpful. I had researched where I needed to go using the 9292 app, so that was not too much of a problem after that. And all of the buses have computer screens with the upcoming stops and and a reminder to check out with your OV-chip card.

Also interesting was the fact that since my appointment was at 7PM, about 7 or 8 people on the bus were also getting off at the same stop as a handful of classes started at that time. That made it pretty obvious where I needed to go.

The oral test itself wasn’t that bad. Wat is dit? Dit is een tafel. De tafel of het tafel? De tafel (table) and getting a bit harder from there. We spoke about 95% Dutch, and I had to say Ik weet het niet about five or six times  (= I don’t know). I was usually able to answer in complete sentences and sometimes provide extra information. The last bit of the oral exam was harder – he started to get into expressions and similar, which I simply have not memorized.

So in the end he suggested the same level that I was interested in (A2, which is a step above beginners but not quite intermediate) because it was quite clear I would be bored if I was placed into A1 but I did have issues with word order. (I usually forget to put the verbs at the end of the clause or sentence when it is required.) I am familiar with most of the rules – I just don’t have enough practice speaking yet nor do I have the rules memorized.

In the next few days Marco and I will register for the class officially, but tonight I just feel like quietly celebrating (and relaxing).


Categories: Courses, Learning Dutch | Tags: | 7 Comments

Dutch apps (Or: Word Tap, a word finding game)

This app has been added to the Dutch Apps page.

Word Tap is a word finding game available in multiple languages, including Dutch, English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, and Portuguese. The default is English so you will have to switch the language in the settings if desired.

Word Tap Multilingual Edition app

The game has a two minute timer in classic mode. Level mode has you progress through 10 levels. Your goal is to find as many words as possible before the time runs out. Longer words with rarely used letters give you a higher score. Words can be formed in pretty much any direction – left to right, right to left, up to down, down to up, and diagonally. (So you can click a letter, click the letter to the right of it, and then go diagonal for the next letter).

In addition, you can hold a letter and drag to move it in a new direction. You can also shake the iPhone to give yourself new letters.

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A2 books (Or: Learning Dutch)

Here is the latest book that I read at The Hague Public Library:

page from a Leespunt book level A2

This book is from and has two stories in it: Vader en zoon / Dik (Father and son / Thick). The book is listed at A2 level. I read the first story (15pg) using a Dutch-English dictionary app but I did not use a dictionary app at all for the second story (17pg). If took about an hour in total.

The library has one more A2 book. After that I have a few choices at B1, the next step up in difficulty. Next week!

Categories: Reading | Tags: | Leave a comment

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