Monthly Archives: March 2016

And the lights are on (Or: Den Hag Verlicht)

As I mentioned in my previous post, tonight was “Den Haag Verlicht” – the celebration of the Grote Marktstreet’s revitalization by turning on the lights. And not just any lights, no…

Den Haag verlichting lights now turned on

Blue lights!

Okay, okay, they do change colors, but blue seemed to be pretty dominating. There was also a stage with music:

Den Haag verlichting stage

Food trucks (yum, saté!):

Den Haag verlichting food truck

And a close up of the light, to show the gradual color changes:

Den Haag verlichting light up close

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On the rocks (Or: Hometown coffee)

On Sunday Marco and I went to Hometown Coffee. It was Easter but a lot of cafés and restaurants were open regardless. This cafe is close to Spui Buitenhof (a movie theater) and Popo’s, a Mexican restaurant.

I ordered my favorite drink there: iced mocha coffee on the rocks. Yum!


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A time lapse of Grote Marktstraat (And: Some Boston photos)

Last year Gemeente Den Haag (e.g. city hall) created a video showing a time lapse of the construction around the Grote Marktstraat. It is just under 3 minutes long. Among other places, it can be found on YouTube. It’s kind of cool to look back and remember all the craziness the construction caused…

Grote Markstraat is the large shopping street in The Hague which has been under construction for the last few years. There is an event on Thursday night (Den Haag verlicht) to mark the completion. The final act will be turning on the lights (literally – the lights were just hung up last week). They will be turned on around 20.45. There will also be music, dancers, DJs, drum bands and food trucks. Oh, and the shops are open until 22.00 (although on Thursdays they are usually open until 21.00 anyway).

And here are some more photos from Boston. The first is a sculpture found in Boston Common, Make Way for Ducklings:

Make way for ducklings

And a photo of the Boston public library:

Boston public library entrance

We also went to the JFK Presidential Library (well, we just went to the museum). It was a lot of fun, and now I can say I’ve visited a presidential library!

JFK presidential library and museum

And a look at the JFK presidential library from inside:

Inside JFK presidential library and museum

After that we visited the Edward M. Kennedy Institute which is a building right next to the JFK library. The institute was opened to the public last year and is used to teach the public about the inner workings of the senate. It includes a to-scale replica of the Senate Chambers where mock votes are held every hour for visitors to participate in (our mock vote was regarding the minimum wage law currently in consideration). The replica chambers sit in the middle with displays around it. Since it was just completed, tablets are used to provide additional information and to interact with the displays.  It’s quite modern.

Until next time!

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Boston (Or: On the Freedom Trail, and other convenient sites)

One of the main tourist draws to Boston is the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile trail which goes from the north of the city to the Boston Common. A benefit of this trail is that it is entirely marked with a red stripe in the sidewalk, making it very easy to follow without a map. There are 15 official stops along the way (here is the official maps page), although the map I tended to use can be found here.

Because our hotel was in the North End, we ended up doing the trail over a few days (with the last sites visited being the Bunker Hill monument and USS Constitution to the north). The Bunker Hill monument looks similar to the Washington Monument, but the one in Boston was constructed first:

Bunker Hill monument

Bunker hill monument

Due to being in dry docks for renovation, the USS Constitution was only available a handful of days each week, so we didn’t go inside (we did visit the nearby museum, however). It was pretty impressive to see a video of the ship entering dry dock.

We actually started with the Old North Church and Paul Revere’s house. We did go inside his house – it’s a rather cheap admission ($6) but only two large rooms. It’s also a very old house (of course) so quite creaky. I can imagine it gets crowded during the peak tourist season.

Paul Revere House in Boston

Paul Revere’s house

Other points of interest included Faneuil Hall and Copp’s Hill Burying ground. It’s almost impossible for a tourist to miss the hall since the hall (with a free museum inside) is right next to a marketplace and shopping area. The marketplace has a ton of eating options with seating in the middle of the hall.

Inside Faneuil hall in Boston

Faneuil hall

And the cemetery:

Copp's Hill burying ground

Copp’s Hill burying ground

Not to be forgotten is the marker for the Boston massacre site as well as a statue of Benjamin Franklin commemorating the first public school in area. Interestingly, the statue is right next to the old city hall which now houses (among other things) a Ruth’s Chris steakhouse.

Boston massacre site marker

marker of the Boston massacre

The trail begins (or ends, depending on how you start it at) at Boston Common, a large public park. Just don’t expect the lakes to have any water in them in March, apparently! I will spare you a photo of that muddy mess.

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Vacation time! (Or: A week in Boston)

Roger, Marco and I just returned from a little over a week in Boston (March 15 – 23). We stayed at the Battery Wharf hotel in the North End, on the waterfront.

Google Map of Boston North End

And with the airport only across the river, this meant taking a water taxi to the hotel! That’s a new one for me – it was awesome. We pulled up to the hotel’s dock after a 10 minute ride or so. Since the photos from inside the taxi were rather abysmal (it was foggy and raining), here’s a looking at the taxi leaving after dropping us off and a US Coast Guard ship. Apparently their base was next to the hotel.

Boston water taxi and US Coast Guard boat

Here’s a look at the hotel, visible on the room key that they didn’t ask us for/we forgot to return. There’s at least three hotel buildings (we had upper right), with the fourth a spa/fitness center (lower left).

Hotel room key and Boston Charlie ticket

This was definitely a luxury hotel – around 7 or 8 at night housekeeping would stop by again to deliver fresh ice and full-sized water bottles as needed. The TV offerings were also superb, which meant that Roger got his fill of the Game Show Network and Family Feud (the channel not being available in the Netherlands). The only downside to the hotel was that the internet cost extra, to the tune of $10/day. Doable, except that it was password protected and only allowed one connection on at a time.

Also visible in the picture is a “Charlie ticket”, or the ticket used for the public transportation. It was remarkably cheap compared to the Netherlands, with a 7 day ticket costing only $19 (in The Hague a day ticket costs €6.50). The term “Charlie” was apparently named after a character in a 1948 protest song “Charlie on the MBTA” which protested a 5 cent exit surcharge on longer rides.

Here’s a few Dutch items we came across. The first was a Dutch football shirt, found at the Newbury Comics store:

Dutch football shirt at Newbury comics

But don’t let the name fool you. The store is 90% pop-culture items and 10% comics, with only the latest few weeks of comics available, and no back issues. We did visit a few other comic book stores though (New England Comics and Comicopia) so Marco was able to get his fill there.

We also visited the City Target (Target being a department store) near Fenway Park and came across some Dutch stroopwafels at the Starbucks:

Dutch stroopwafels at a US Target store

However we were told that the stroopwafels do not taste as good as those from the Netherlands, so it seems likely that they are made somewhere in the US (it also seems likely considering the “non-GMO” label on the packaging, something that is abundantly common in Boston packaging it seems. It means no genetically modified organisms). The stroopwafels come from Rip van Wafels, which is based in California.

There’s a lack of touristy stuff in this post, but I should be able to get to that over the next few days.

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On sale at Albert Heijn (Or: Octupus arms!)

When I saw this on sale at Albert Heijn (our local grocery store) I just had to take a picture:

Octupus arms on sale at Albert Heijn

Granted, I know it is food and I know a lot of people like the taste. I’ve been trying to get more into seafood, but I haven’t got past the safer sushi options or salmon yet. Maybe someday (but, okay, I doubt it!)

Though it does remind me of the kraken in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Oh, and Albert Heijn also sells insects if you are interested… Just saying!

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Almost spring time (Or: The last reminders of winter)

Here is a photo of a mural on the side of Eat Company, a café near the Grote Kerk:

Eat Company The Hague winter graffiti

And here is link to the artist Sophia den Breems. Nice work!

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It’s almost Friday! (Or: Time for an apple)

This is actually a photo from last week, but I didn’t get around to posting it then so I decided to post it today.

First, the photo:

Happy almost Friday apple

And now the context:

One of my coworkers usually eats an apple or two a day. Last month during lunch I noticed she peeled her apple, so I asked her if she was going to eat the apple skin. She said no, so I ate it. Perhaps a bit weird (?) but green apples tend to be more on the sour side, and I do love sour food. (Ever had cucumber slices in vinegar with a bit of lemon juice thrown in the mix? It’s awesomely sour.) But anyway, it’s like eating apple chips – there’s always a bit of apple mixed with the skin.

So these days if she eats an apple she always puts the skins on a separate plate and brings it to my desk. She told me on Wednesday that she wouldn’t be in on Thursday, so we joked about my missing the apple skins.

Lo and behold, when I came in on Thursday there was a whole apple on my desk with the note “Happy almost Friday! :)” I liked the note so much I actually placed it under the receiver on my work phone, so when I make calls I see the note.

(P.S. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!)

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Selling oranges at Centraal Station (Or: All in a day’s work)

Recently Marco and I ended up leaving the house together in the morning, as he had to catch a train to Utrecht for work. As we were walking, we were passed by a fruit seller riding his cart. It caught my eye because the road was so bumpy I was amazed that none of the oranges fell off…

Later on in the day Marco sent me a photo. It turns out the fruit seller was selling his wares at Centraal Station. It’s a bit blurry, but you get the idea:

Selling oranges at The Hague's Centraal Station

Bikes really are the “transport of choice” around here!

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Muse at the Ziggo dome (Or: A look at the stage)

On Thursday Marco and Roger went to see Muse in Amsterdam. I just had to share this photo that Marco took of the stage:

Muse Drones tour in Amsterdam March 2016

I found an article about the tour (aptly named the “Drones” tour) from December of last year. I recommend reading the 3rd item, about the use of projections to make it seem like a giant hand was controlling the movement of the guitar player. I saw a video of it afterwards – it looked pretty cool!

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