King’s day was on Wednesday this year, which meant that the Life I Live festival took place the night before. In short, the night before the holiday the center of the city closes down for the festival, with various music stages set up around the area. Most of the major genres are represented – jazz, rock, blues, covers and more.
Problem is the weather was pretty horrible, especially later in the night. It was also apparently the coldest festival ever. So it was pretty hard to stay out longer than an hour!
Here is a look at two of the street art pieces that were created during the festival from scratch. Street art #1:
Street art #2:
Street art #2, another angle:
Here’s a look at the newly installed lights on the Grote Markt. They alternatively glowed orange …
and the colors of the Dutch flag:
You can also see photos from the 2013 Queen’s night, which has better photos of the stage and the actual event itself.
(Public service announcements, or PSAs. Basically messages that are freely distributed to the public because they are in their best interest.)
Trams rule! I never realized this while growing up in the US because there wasn’t much public transportation around. Or when there was, it was just buses, and I am not as big a fan of those.
Here’s the birthday card Roger made for me. Front cover – a look at the Avenio trams, the newest model. Some of the tram lines have started to use them (2 and 11) with 1, 9 and 17 next. You can just make out the top of the tram where he edited the sign to say “Niki’s birthday”.
Inside you can see a map of The Hague (at the very bottom), and then a tram service schedule on the left side, with a picture of an older, yellow tram sign you would find at a stop on the right. Roger even added a picture of gourmetten in the middle since that’s what we ate on my birthday. Finally, in the middle you have a look at the tram lines throughout The Hague.
And a look at the two books that I currently have checked out from the library:
The larger book is a photographic history of trams in The Hague since 1945 (until 2011). The smaller one is a non-fiction book written by a journalist who spent a year working as a tram conductor in Amsterdam.
I love trams. No interest whatsoever in driving them, but I love reading the latest news. Try htmfoto.net or HaagsOVforum.nl. The first one includes way more than just tram stuff, or even HTM stuff. There’s a lot of old pictures of the city to lose yourself in.
Amazingly my birthday celebrations are still going strong a week and a half later! My taalcoach (language coach, Den Haag SamenSpraak) invited Marco and I to dinner at the Mezze, an Arabic/Moroccan tapas bar in Schveningen. It’s actually right next to the Kurhaus, on the side facing away from the beach.
The food was great – we did the all you can eat buffet which meant everyone could choose what they wanted. And go back multiple times for the same item, in my case… Below is a look at some of my food (bottom plate) and Marco’s food (top plate). A mix of cold and warm items.
Quite simple but the thing I kept going back for was the soup and bread. Did I ever mention I love bread? Yum. Actually, in the picture above you also see the bread (the slightly darker pieces on the plate itself) – it’s just been cooked for another day and is much crispier. I prefer the softer bread at the far right above or in the picture below, though.
The area where we ate was in the glass enclosed terrace. Even though it was a cold day outside, it was warm enough inside, thanks to a healthy fire in the middle of the table.
The restaurant also has belly dancers on the weekends. I didn’t get a picture of it, but she had a very pretty navel piercing – a blue jewel.
And because I just like colorful plates, here’s a look at the choices for the soup bowls. One of these does not belong…
Afterwards we had dessert and coffee back at their house. Check out the desserts! Of course I went for the chocolate one. 🙂
But check out the design at the bottom of this one. Very cool!
Last week I celebrated another birthday. Here’s a look at some (but unfortunately not all) of the highlights…
First, a bouquet of paper flowers made by my father-in-law and his wife. Still wrapped:
A close up of the butterfly. Do you see what the roses are made of? Wrapped chocolate and the best paper you could make flowers out of — 5 euro notes!
Yesterday was my birthday. Fun times were had all around, between sharing a beer with Marco after work (we went to the Plein) to doing gourmetten with Roger that night.
I will have a few other photos later, but for now check out what Marco did:
In the morning I woke up to sticky notes everywhere. My favorite hiding place was on the toilet paper roll (not visible until you use it) and in my jacket sleeve, so that when I put my jacket on it popped out. There are 34 notes in all — numbered, thankfully — which read:
“Mijn lieve Niki, weet je dat het jouw drie-en-dertigste verjaardag is vandaag? Ik ben blij dat wij dat samen vieren want ik hou echt heel veel van jou! Je rare man – Marco (34 alvast voor het jaar dat nu begint).”
“My lovely Niki, do you know that it is your 33rd birthday today? I am happy that we can celebrate it together because I love you very much! Your silly husband – Marco (34 in advance for the year that now begins).”
Marco and I went to a voting center in the neighborhood to vote on the Ukraine referendum (ABC news – English). Well, he voted – I can’t yet. The weather turned pretty bad in the late afternoon, with pouring rain at times, but luckily it had mostly died by the time we went out.
I’m not a very political person, but basically the referendum is about a trade agreement between the EU and Ukraine, with some opponents saying it is really a thinly veiled stepping stone towards Ukraine asking for EU membership.
Voting card (or “Stempas” in Dutch)
In the end there wasn’t much to report on – while we had gone to a voting place which should have been a rather popular choice, there was no one else around voting at the time. (Which was to be expected – it remains to be seen if the Netherlands will get the 30% of voters needed to make this vote count, whatever the result is. But if they mange that, it would be “just barely”). Marco says the voting card only asked one question – to state if you were for or against the referendum. It was over before we knew it!
“Your behavior in the voting area” – The images are probably enough, but 1) Have your voting card and ID card ready 2) Don’t block the view of the voting bureau workers 3) Only one person per booth
Interestingly, the voting card said that voters only needed to have an government-issued ID that was valid through April 6, 2011 – that is, 5 years ago. And no, it wasn’t a typo.
Marco says he will take me along for next year’s vote, for the Dutch elections. That should prove to be more lively.
In June of this year, The Hague will begin a hop-on, hop-off tram service aimed at tourists (Article: English | Dutch).
From the English article: “The Tourist Tram, in historical cream with a green trim, is launching in June. The route connects the historic city center, the planned museum district around Lange Voorhout, the Vredespaleis and the Kurhaus together. It will also travel through the international zone, the Gemeentemuseum and Omniversum and go all the way Scheveningen.”
Tickets will cost 14 euros, or 18 euros per day, while kids under 12 can ride for 5 euros for two days. I thought that was a bit pricey considering a day ticket for HTM (The Hague’s bus and tram service) costs 6 and a half euros per day, but it looks like this tourist tram includes an audio tour which is in several different languages, including Haags (The Hague’s dialect). The route also links together a lot of tourist hot spots, so you only have to board one tram and you don’t have to research all of the routes. That could be a big plus for tourists.
The tourist tram that will start running in June (photo: Maurice Haak / Den Haag)
The tram is mainly intended for the summer months, traveling every half hour between 09.30 and 17.30. After the summer, it will only be in service on weekends or holidays. Hopefully it is a good enough investment that they can expand service a bit!