Monthly Archives: August 2015

Nature (Or: Peace in contemplation)

A few weeks ago Marco, his mom and I visited Marco’s uncle and aunt again. The occasion? A photo session with the extended family. And what do I do during a photo session? Take my own photos of course! Here are some of the best I took:

Buddha statue through pine trees

Peace in contemplation

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Trams and fireworks (Or: Luckily not at the same time)

I seem to be on tram kick lately. Let’s see, some incidents this week:

1. There’s a place in The Hague where you have a pole right next to the tram rails. That is not a problem at all for the tram – obviously the distance was factored in. However, what do Dutch like to do when they see a pole?

You guessed it. Place a bike against it. Or two actually in this case. The tram driver drives really slowly, really carefully, but manages to hit the bike. So that means she has to get up and open the door just to move the bike. (Note: some other guy on his bike riding past got off his bike just to help her move them.)

2. This afternoon a biker wanted to turn right. No problem – the tram also had a curve where it turned right as well. Except there isn’t much space at the side of the road in the curve, and you quickly run into a stack of bikes on the sidewalk. Not much room to manuever. So of course the tram passes the biker and turns right, but the biker keeps going in the turn as well, causing the tram to have to slow down to almost a complete stop. (Last I saw the guy gave up and biked into what little space there was on the sidewalk to get out of the way.)

3. But the craziest – this morning. I was in the tram heading to work and there was a garbage truck on the right side of the road. The tram was again in a turn, this time heading left. I was in the last compartment and had a great view of the garbage truck. I remember thinking “Wow, he’s really close by. But as usual there won’t be an issue.” After the garbage truck passes out of view I hear a loud screeeeeech as the garbage truck’s side mirror slashes against the body of the tram – and then a loud thud as the mirror (I presume) falls to the ground. Eep. The tram didn’t stop, either.

Another story, not quite tram-less:
Last Friday Marco, Roger and I went to the fireworks festival in Scheveningen. It happens over two weekends – Friday and Saturday and Friday and Saturday of the following weekend – and you always have two countries every night “competing” for who has the best fireworks. I left competing in quotes because I have never seen the results of the competition. The night we went was Italy and then The Netherlands.

Fireworks festival in Scheveningen

Waiting on the boulevard for the Italian fireworks to start. You can see the boats with the fireworks in the distance on the water.

At first I thought the Italian fireworks were better… until I saw the Dutch finale! Quite nice. But then we had a lot of trouble getting home. Of course it was a mad house at the tram stop. Waves upon waves of people pushing trying to get into any available tram, and we were too far down the tram stop to get into a tram (three trams went by and still nothing by us, for instance). Eventually we got into bus 23 which at best would take us to the Laan van Nieuw-Oost Indie stop. Not too bad, but still a hike to get back home. The bus was very crowded, though.

Of course, things aren’t that easy. Marco says he now knows why they put a limit on the amount of people allowed in a bus – because ours got a flat tire not too long into the ride. Eek. Luckily this was somewhere near Madurodam’s stop so we were able to hitch a ride on tram 9. There was a tiny, tiny bit of space for us to jump on in the middle of the tram. Of course some guy took offense to me wanting to hold on to the bars in front of the doors (he was standing on the steps by the doors) and so he kept squashing my hand with his butt. My hand was so red afterwards! You’d think he’d realize the presence of a foreign object and not be so rude, but oh well… I chose to keep my mouth shut, so I’m also to blame.

And right now it’s pouring. Ugh. Byebye what little summer we had. ūüôā

Wow… I believe that I have angered the rain Gods with that comment. Right after typing it the sky just turned a sickly bright orange. Scary…

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

Coffee at busy intersections (Or: Tram 17 by Gravenstraat)

Today Marco and I visited Hometown coffee, a cafe near the Buitenhof. Here in The Hague we have “koopavond” (shopping night) on Thursday nights. That means that most stores stay open until 8 or 9pm instead of closing at 5 or 6pm. I must admit that does make me miss the US… even the main library branch closes at 8pm! Sheesh.

Anyway, this time I had a blended ice coffee, mocha flavor, and we split a small piece of carrot cake. And then I noticed something for the millionth time — the insane thing about this area is that tram 17 rides through the area. This first photo (below) looks deceivingly quiet but it shows the worst place for the tram. It has to bank left at the corner but there is a not a lot of room for pedestrians there due to the stacked up bikes right up to the edge of the tram line (not pictured in the photo). So a lot of people walk along the tram lines and thus the tram crawls along at a very… slow… rate… ūüôā

Tram 17 by Gravenstraat

photo taken from Google Images – it is not mine

And here’s a bonus of tram 17 just before that area, by the Sting, a clothing store:

Tram 17 by The Sting

another random photo from Google Images

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On umbrellas (Or: It is probably good that rain is not melting crayons)

Here in the Netherlands we have been experiencing a rather wet week. Rain throughout the day, just enough to annoy. Luckily I had an umbrella this time – although it made me realize I don’t need an umbrella that much these days. There is “rain” and then there is “okay, I guess I’ll get out an umbrella rain”. There is actually a difference!

Of course back in America everyone had a car and drove around (except me) so I didn’t see many people who needed an umbrella… but it is an interesting realization: rain doesn’t bother me as much these days.

Don’t get me wrong – I said “as much”. I draw the limit at sudden downpours in Scheveningen where the coastal wind is strong to begin with – my back was soaked in 3 seconds flat that day. And as soon as it started it was over again. Welcome to the Netherlands!

But: just imagine for a moment that rain was like melting crayons (the latest art craze, Google it). Beautiful but messy…

Melting crayon art with umbrella

from Crafthubs.com

Categories: Daily Dutch living | Tags: | 2 Comments

Huh. That’s weird. (Or: Ado Den Haag at the top of the standings — briefly)

So while Marco and I were at Roger’s we happened to check Teletext¬†(a television information retrieval service). Imagine our surprise when we saw that Ado Den Haag won their game 4-1. Not surprised that they won per se, but surprised that this meant the football team was at the top of the standings for the¬†Eredivisie¬†(“Honor Division”, the highest Dutch football league).

image

Of course the standings were recalibrated a few minutes later to include Ajax’s win, but for a few minutes there we were on the top of the world!

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C’s (Or: Coffee, cheesecake and countryside)

A few weeks ago Marco and I went back to the Cheesecake Company by the Grote Kerk. I’ve posted about this place many times – they even served the cheesecake at our wedding! It isn’t quite our two year anniversary yet but this time¬†they did have the same flavor as our heart-shaped wedding cheesecake, white chocolate cappuccino… So of course we ended up choosing that one.

White chocolate cappuccino cheesecake
And on Saturday Marco, his mother and I had dinner over at De Gezelligheid¬†(near Amersfoort) with the family.¬†The food at De Gezelligheid was pretty good. We started off with “de spiegel” (the mirror) which was a sampling of all of their starter items served on a platter. My favorite item was the fried mushroom, of all things. For the main dish I had a hamburger with thick cut fries. Yum.

Of course we had to stop at the Starbucks at Centraal Station, so I decided to take a photo of the wall (doesn’t everyone want to take a photo of a wall?):

Wall at Starbucks - Last 10 feet
Love or hate Starbucks – I just like the cool font and presentation!

Here is a photo of the lake by Marco’s uncle, with a Buddha statue on the other side (in the shadows):

Countryside in the Netherlands
Quite peaceful.

Categories: Daily Dutch living, Food, Friends&Family | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Now that’s an interesting delay (Or: Blocking the trams)

A few days ago I was idly checking htm.nl, the bus/tram operator in The Hague, when I noticed that tram 1 had a rather lengthy delay. The reason?

A “wrongly parked car”.

tram delay for wrongly parked car

Wow. I only wish I had a photo of that one. Granted, some places don’t have much room to park here in The Hague – but you can always drive a bit further and find another place. I just keep envisioning a drunk person parking directly over the tracks (though it is more likely that it was just an inch or two too close).

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Football (Or: Police and ADO Den Haag fans square off this Saturday)

Quick. Name one thing you do NOT mess with in the Netherlands.

 

…if you guessed football you would be correct.

In most if not all European countries, football is the sport. Fans eat, sleep and breathe football. Sometimes viewing multiple games on multiple devices (television, smart phone, tablet…) at the same time. It is a way of life.

Unfortunately you can expect issues if you try to get in the way of that. Even if you’re the police. The police have been striking at various times¬†over the least few months. I wrote about it back in May when 1,500 police officers protested around the Binnenhof. Of course it makes sense – they just want better pay. It’s not that much different from the farmers¬†striking in Belgium and France by¬†driving really slow on¬†highways and obstructing traffic.

But, again… it’s football. You just do not mess with football, people. Someone forgot to tell the police that. Most of the opening games for the Eredivisie are postponed due to police planning to strike during the scheduled game times – police actions which threaten not just ADO Den Haag’s game but also other games across the country this weekend. (Note: Dutch police threatened to strike during the opening days of the Tour de France in Utrecht, but that did not go through.)

Now ADO fans have a plan of their own. ‘Wij geen wedstrijd, hun geen staking‘¬†which¬†translates to¬†“No game for us? No strike for them.”¬†The plan is to have as many people as possible meet at the Plein in The Hague at the scheduled time of the game. A large group of people would require a similarly large police presence, which means that at least some of the police cannot strike during their planned strike time. It is an interesting tactic if you think about it!

Wij geen wedstrijd, hun geen staking

From Volkskrant.nl (linked above, Dutch article)

Categories: Culture, Sports, The Hague | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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