Today Marco and I went to our scheduled appointment (afspraak) with the IND to set up my VVR (permanent residency). This also included a meeting with the GBA (…Gemeentelijke Basisadministratie persoonsgegevens!), otherwise known as the department who keeps tabs on every single citizen of the Hague. You are required to register.
The appointment was at 9AM, so we left the apartment around 8AM and took tram 17 to the Statenplein tram stop. (The street we wanted was Stadhoudersplantsoen, 24. Yeah. Who needs to use the space bar.)
The appointment went rather smoothly – as mentioned, we first met with an official from the GBA and I turned over one of the official copies of my birth certificate (don’t worry mom – a long version, not the fragile original version!). Then we waited a few minutes for the IND appointment and got that sorted. I had my fingerprint taken digitally, which was interesting because the machine was rather finicky. Eventually they ended up just trying the index finger on my left hand instead of my right, and it worked a bit quicker.
Then my fingerprint was taken again at a different window, and then it was done. The VVR should arrive in 6 to 7 weeks. I hope!
Afterwards, Marco and I went to a Hema and shared a slice of apple pie and an appelbol (which is a dessert with sugar on top, warm apple in the middle, and a bit of cinnamon sauce near the bottom). I also got a nice cup of coffee. As we were seated on the second floor at the window, we had a nice view of the construction area:
All I know is that this building will eventually have a Marks and Spencer, a British retail store. There will be other stores, but at the moment I forget what.
About 10 minutes after taking this picture I realized something special. I had been talking to Marco but looking out the window while doing so. Mid-sentence I stopped and stared at something I hadn’t expected to see again.
At the upper edge of the photo, not quite all the way on the left side, you can see the alley of graffiti. Does the one I am pointing at look familiar? It’s the banner for this blog, Greetings from Holland.
The reason I did not expect to see it again was because of the construction – some months ago Marco had mentioned that he wasn’t sure if the alley (Raamstraat) had been torn down or not due to the construction you see above. It looks like half of the alley is gone (probably means the ‘The Hague’ image in the above link was torn down) but the “Greetings” graffiti has survived, for the moment.
It was kind of strange to see it on today of all days, as we had just got back from the IND meeting. Kind of full circle, if you will. And it turns out that it is only visible if you are on the 2nd floor, which means it was a bit lucky for us to visit the Hema and sit by the window. I tried to get back to Raamstraat but the alleyway is blocked on both ends due to the construction, so there is no public access.
After a few more errands, Marco and I went to his bus stop as he still had a half day of work ahead of him (only took a half a day off), although at this point he is almost done. So I went to the city hall as I was interested in volunteering for Access but had a few questions for them.
Finally, I went to Albert Heijn. This was actually the first time going by myself. To be honest, I deliberately chose the cashier who I knew from previous experience understood and spoke some English and was also friendly enough to let me try out some Dutch on him. I suspect I slightly butchered the Hoe gaat het met jou? (How are you?) as he paused a moment before answering, but it worked out well. I also correctly realized he was asking if I wanted a receipt (Nee/No) and that he wished that I have a good weekend (Fijne weekend). It was fun.
Slowly a mental map of the city is taking shape. Slowly.