Monthly Archives: May 2015

And now for Vietnamese food (Or: Little V in The Hague)

Marco and I went with his mom to Little V, a Vietnamese restaurant just off the Centrum area in the Rabbijnmaarsenplein. The plaza also has a noodle bar, an Asian restaurant and a sushi restaurant. It’s right next to Chinatown. But until WWII, Jews lived there. Rabbijnmaarsenplein is named after rabbi Isaac Maarsen (1892-1943). There’s a wiki article about the neighborhood in Dutch.

The food and cocktails were great. The service was fast. We were given the option of receiving appetizers and the main course at once or apart, and we also had the option to get the main course as soon as we were done with the appetizers or to wait a bit. Paying was also hassle free- I am used to the Dutch culture where no one can be found when you want to pay because everyone thinks you want to converse for four hours…

Here are some of the photos from the restaurant:

appetizers at Little V in The Hague

appetizers – in the foreground at right is chicken spring rolls. In the back is shrimp spring rolls. And at left are rice rolls with chicken and vegetables inside.

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Utrecht (Or: Our second try)

Marco and I went to Utrecht on Saturday. We had previously gone to Utrecht last year but we made the mistake of visiting on a Monday — most shops tend to be closed or have reduced opening hours on Mondays. Plus the weather was bad and their was construction around the Domplein so it was not quite what we hoped.

This time it worked out for the better. Marco and I had train ticket vouchers (dag weekend vrij / one weekend day free pass) that needed to be used this past weekend. We first stopped at the VVV office (a tourism office) to pick up a €5 walking tour booklet.

Here are some of the pictures we took along the way:

World war II statue in the Domplein Utrecht

A statue on the Domplein commemorating WWII. Behind is an image against the side of the wall, but it almost creates the illusion that you are looking inside the church itself.

Actually in the place where the statue currently is you could previously find the nave of the church, but that part of it was destroyed back in the 1600s.

Pandhof in Utrecht

(Above) Also in the Domplein, you have the Pandhof, a garden area dating back to the 14th-15th century (restored in the 18th century).

Domkerk in Utrecht

The Domtoren (towers) – from a bit further away. It rises above the city, and if per chance you are standing in a spot where it can not be seen, more than likely it can be heard. The church bells were all but continuous when we were in the area.

Academic building Utrecht

Academicgebouw, Utrecht University

Above you have the main academic building of Utrecht University, built in the late 19th century.

Tour de France 2015 sign in UtrechtIf you didn’t know the Tour de France was starting in Utrecht this year, well, now you do. 🙂 Stage 1 and stage 2 will be held in the city.

Guiness sign UtrechtAnd finally, Marco’s favorite joke of the day:

“Every time I hear that dirty word exercise I wash my mouth out with beer.” / “Elke keer dat ik hoor dat vies woord ‘exercise’, was ik mijn mond met bier.”


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A sea of orange (Or: Politie action around the Binnenhof)

This morning I was met with a sea of orange. There were lots of police officers setting up for a protest around the Binnenhof (parliament offices in The Hague). Reports say that at its height there were 1400 police officers on hand. I even received an email from the American consulate — basically they send out emails to interested citizens about any protest that happens in Amsterdam or The Hague. In this case the police were protesting for better pay (a 3.3% increase) and a lowering of the retirement age which currently stands at 67 years.

Police protest by the Binnenhof

The beginnings of the sea of orange – there were of course many more police around the corner by the Binnenhof and Buitenhof

The email also clarified who was wearing what – police wearing an orange vest over their uniform were protesters. Police wearing a red vest over their uniform were protest leaders. And finally you also had active, on-duty police officers wearing just their police uniform.

Here is an article in Dutch and an article in English.

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Hemelvaartsdag (Or: Visiting Zoetermeer on a day off)

This past Thursday was a national holiday here in the Netherlands – Hemelvaartsdag, or Ascension Day, a Christian holiday. Marco and I decided to take the tram to Zoetermeer and do some shopping. Well, I decided to do some shopping and Marco begrudgingly came along… I kid, I kid.

We visited the Stadshart (City’s heart) to do our shopping. I did manage to find a new pair of pants for work – harder than one might think as the Netherlands seems to discriminate against short folks like me! Here’s a view of the indoor part of the shopping area:

Zoetemeer shopping center

One interesting thing about this area was the lack of proper protection against wind in the beginning. Not long after it opened it became clear that this area was really nothing more than a huge wind tunnel. I found an old article in Dutch about the issue (article) but I mostly know about it from the stories Marco told me.

As usual we stopped at Bagels & beans for a coffee and an apple crumble. The weather wasn’t as good as it was a few weeks ago in Leiden but it wasn’t too cold. For the Netherlands anyway…


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Marco’s gift (Or: A new watch!

After work Marco surprised me with a new watch! A bit crazy since I don’t normally wear watches, but we had been talking about the Apple watch lately…

Isn’t it great? Marco is so sweet!

And so is the watch…

Watch made of candy


Hopefully it is 5:25 am or pm before I get hungry enough to eat it, just so I can say it was right once…

(I have no interest in wearing a watch. I tried it as a kid but it was more annoying then useful. I find it interesting to follow news of the Apple Watch, but only to see how it develops from afar. I don’t think it will really hit its stride until version 3 or 4. Until then my wrist stays bare.)

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Exploring Leiden (Or: Windmills and canals)

On Saturday Marco and I went to Leiden. It is a university city not far from The Hague (10-15 minutes by train). We first made a stop at the VVV office (tourist office) for a free city guide. Unfortunately it was pretty commercial in nature and it wasn’t quite as informative as the Dordrecht guide was (we paid €5 for that). However the Leiden guide did have three recommended walks in the back so we used that. You just need to keep in mind some of the streets it takes you down are store heavy…

My first picture was easily my favorite:

Leiden windmill and canal

See more pictures by clicking Read more.
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A suitcase of WWII letters (Or: Found in The Hague)

Recently a suitcase full of WWII letters were found in the French restaurant Walter Benedict in The Hague. (Article: in English | in het Nederlands). These letters were uncovered during a renovation and were written by Israel Bachrach, a Jew living in The Hague. He wrote to both his mother and his non-Jewish girlfriend about how horrible it was to live in a German-occupied city.

The Facebook page for the restaurant talks about how the letters were discovered. In Dutch: “Tijdens het strippen van het plafond in het achterhuis waar nu de keuken gevestigd is vielen oude brieven met daarin foto’s en kleding naar beneden. Een dag voor het strippen hadden we al vraagtekens bij de ruimte waarin onze keuken geïnstalleerd zou moeten gaan worden. Dus zijn we naar het gemeente archief gegaan om de oude bouwtekeningen van het pand te bekijken. We stuitten op een bouwtekening uit juli 1941 waarop duidelijk wordt dat een extra vloer in het achterhuis is geplaatst waardoor een geheime ruimte tussen de vloeren ontstond.”

In short – the restaurant was working on the renovations for the kitchen. They had questions about the room (dimensions or similar) and decided to go to the city hall’s archive to ask for the building’s blueprints. They were able to find blueprints from July 1941 which made it clear that there was an extra floor in the room (and thus a space in between the two floors to hide items). This is where the letters were found.

Walter Benedict was able to escape in September 1942 to Switzerland (via Belgium) though there were a few close calls where he was almost caught – but he made it out. After the war he returned to The Hague and opened a bookstore at the spot that would later be occupied by the French restaurant.


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