Monthly Archives: January 2017

Marks & Spencer (Or: Still open, still looking forward to holidays)

On Thursday evening Marco and I went to Marks & Spencer for a coffee. In November of last year the company had reported that they would be closing the two Dutch stores, along with other international stores, in a cost-cutting measure. But The Hague store is still open… with no additional details about exactly when it would close.

cafe-at-marks-and-spencer-the-hague

A look at the cafe on the top level

chocolate-decorations-on-sale-for-easter-at-marks-and-spencer

Chocolates on sale for Easter – either the frozen castle or a R2D2. I think I’d go for the R2D2!

So… still open for now. Not that I am complaining! I really like their coffee.

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Categories: Shopping, The Hague | 2 Comments

Frozen canals (Or: Tempting fate in Rijswijk)

This picture is from last week, from the nearby city of Rijswijk. Unfortunately the Netherlands is currently warming up again, so most of the ice has melted.

children-testing-the-ice-on-canals-in-rijswijk

Marco reported that there were no… accidents… or falling through the ice while he was watching. Since Friday it has been warmer, so the chance of skating on natural ice is pretty low until it turns colder again.

Categories: Culture, The Hague | Tags: | 2 Comments

BTW vrije dagen (Or: Massive crowds at Media Markt)

A few days ago I mentioned that Media Markt would be holding their annual BTW vrije dagen this Thursday through Sunday. During this event, they pay for the tax on the item, effectively giving you tax as a discount.

So Marco and I went Thursday night after dinner. Thursday nights are also Koopavond  (Shopping night) in The Hague. That means most stores are open late until 9pm, so it’s already busier. And then add on an event like this… yeah. Crowds!

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It actually didn’t take too long to find the items we wanted (we knew exactly what we wanted to get), it just took a while staying in line.

crowds-at-media-markt-during-btw-vrije-dagen-2017

Lines to the right of me, lines to the left…

Lines everywhere!

But we survived. No major purchases this year, just a water cooker. Total savings was €10. Not a lot, but still something!

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Chinese New Year (Or: Tomorrow in the city centre)

Tomorrow the city of The Hague and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Netherlands will be hosting the Chinese New Year celebrations. 2017 is the year of the rooster!

Program at City Hall:

  • 11:00 Asian market at the atrium
  • 11:30 Dragon dancing and fireworks at the Spuiplein
  • 12:30 Opening ceremony and speeches at the atrium
  • 13:00 Chinese music and dance at the atrium
  • 18:00 End of program

Other areas of interest:

  • 11:00 Chinese New Year’s Market at both Rabijn Maarsenplein and the parking lot behind Bijenkorf
  • 13:00 Dragon and lion dance with fireworks at Chinatown (Gedempte Burgwal)
  • 13:00 Presentations at the JoHo centre on the Paviljoensgracht about Chinese culture and traveling within China
  • 18:00 End of program

 

Chinese New Year Den Haag 2013 dragon dancers 3

One of my photos from the 2013 Chinese New Year celebrations

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The Netherlands welcomes Donald Trump! (Or: Video from Zondag met Lubach)

It’s official – The Netherlands has pitched itself to the US president, Donald Trump. This satirical video first appeared on the Dutch comedy show Zondag met Lubach. The voiceover is done by Greg Shapiro, a Dutch American comedian.

“Dear Mister President. Welcome to this introduction video about the Netherlands. It’s going to be a great video. It’s gonna be absolutely fantastic. … We speak Dutch. It’s the best language of Europe. We’ve got the best words. All the other languages failed. Danish is a disaster. German is not even a real language. It’s fake. It’s a fake language.” and “This is the Afsluitdijk. It’s a great, great wall we built to protect us from all the water from Mexico.” And more!

video-from-zondag-met-lubach-madurodam-mention

Stillshot from the video. 

Madurodam – the miniature city theme park in The Hague – even got a mention. And that alone is enough of a reason to watch the video.

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Media Markt sale (Or: BTW actie 2017)

It must be January again! Every year since I’ve been here, Media Markt has had a sale where they pay the taxes (Dutch: btw, short for belasting toegevoegde waarde) so you don’t have to.

BTW actie 2017

Thursday, January 26, 8am –  Sunday, January 29

btw-vrije-dagen-2017

Image from mediamarkt.nl – “weg ermee” means get rid of it. op = op means gone = gone (i.e. no rainchecks) 

This year’s BTW vrije dagen (tax free days) start this Thursday at 8am and last through Sunday. Well, the stores are open from 8am. If you really want to avoid the crowd, you can purchase items online from midnight onwards. And there is a crowd! It’s not quite like America’s Black Friday shopping, but it still makes me want to leave almost right away. If you plan right it can be fun, though.

Continue reading

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Flowers in Albert Heijn (And: Free tulips yesterday in Amsterdam)

A touch of color enters the world…

Even though it is only January, sometimes it can feel like spring. Especially in Amsterdam! Yesterday was National Tulip Day, the third Saturday in January. It’s the official begin to the tulip selling season, and to celebrate this the tulip growers bring 200,000 tulips in crates to the Dam Square in Amsterdam. Once everything is set up around 1pm, anyone can enter and get pluck a bouquet of tulips for free. Expect to stand in line for a few hours, though! After about 3 to 4 hours, all tulips have been plucked.

First, a link in English, with a stunning time-lapse video from 2015, including the setup. And a link in Dutch, with photos of 2017 Nationale Tulpendag, including photos from above which show the overall design. I find it a nice touch that the design for 2015 is different than 2017.

Speaking of tulips, I took some photos of flowers on sale at an Albert Heijn in The Hague:

tulips-by-albert-heijn

Tulips!

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A bushel of flowers

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Marching for America (Or: Demonstrations in Amsterdam this weekend)

I occasionally receive emails from the US consulate in Amsterdam for things happening in The Hague and in Amsterdam. I’ve blogged about it before, most famously for the email I received regarding the New Years Eve celebrations a few years back. That one definitely made the Netherlands seem like a war zone…

This morning I received an email regarding two demonstrations taking place this weekend around the US Consulate:

Dutch authorities have informed the U.S. Consulate General in Amsterdam that demonstrations to protest U.S. politics are scheduled to occur near the U.S. Consulate General on Friday, January 20, and Saturday, January 21, 2017.

On Friday, January 20, two groups will demonstrate:  one group of demonstrators will gather in front of the U.S. Consulate General Amsterdam on Museumplein and the second group of demonstrators will form at Dam Square in Amsterdam before joining the other demonstrators already gathered at Museumplein.  Both demonstrations are scheduled to begin at 1900 and continue until 2100.  Police estimate approximately 2,000 demonstrators and over ten official sponsors of the demonstration.  There will be a large police presence, including riot police.

The Saturday, January 21, demonstration will begin at 1200 and end at 1500.  Approximately 3,000 participants are expected to assemble in front of the U.S. Consulate General on the Museumplein as part of “Women’s March Amsterdam.”  Police will be present in large numbers.

Read more here.

The Women’s March is definitely worldwide – at last count it was in 57 countries. The sheer logistics is staggering – for example, the march route in Chicago had to be shortened after the number of marchers jumped from 22,000 to 50,000 in 2 days. 

The original march (Women’s March on Washington) has a list of buses going to DC, by state. Also a list of “Sister Marches” if DC is too far away. At I am writing this there are 616 marches worldwide with an estimated 1,364,000 registered. It is a staggering amount.

Should be an interesting weekend. Don’t get me wrong though – I hope for the best for this administration! Even if it feels like an ocean away. Because the laws they make over there still affect me over here.

womens-march-on-washington-2017-map-of-sister-marches

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Souvenirs and other knickknacks (Or: The Hague tourist office)

During a recent visit to the tourist office on the Spui I took photographs of some of the souvenirs you could buy that were specifically about this city:

the-hague-snowglobe

A snowglobe featuring the Peace Palace

the-hague-magnets

Magnets, magnets and more magnets

the-hague-streetmap-in-the-hague-dialect

A streep map of The Hague – in The Hague dialect.See more about this dialect at: Wikipedia

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Unexpectedly expected (Or: The passing of Chuck Deely)

I found out tonight that Chuck Deely passed away Monday night. And who is he? A street musician that played outside of Central Station as well as in the Grote Markt (by C&A or sometimes by Bijenkorf). He’s actually an American, born in 1954 in Detroit. The story goes that he moved here for love many years back, but it didn’t work out. He stayed, playing music on the streets to pay the rent.

chuck-deely

photo from denhaagfm.nl

I didn’t know him personally, having only donated a few euros to him occasionally. The last time I donated was last month, and I overheard him telling someone else that he was not feeling well. Apparently he was hospitalized shortly after that, and then again in January.

It was always fun to hear the songs he was playing and Marco would sometimes stop to listen to his guitar solos. Music isn’t my strong suit so half the time I would end up asking Marco what Chuck was playing now. My favorite song he’d play was Hotel California by The Eagles.

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year
You can find it here

flowers-for-chuck-deely

Flowers outside of the Hema/Albert Heijn, one of the spots he would play at

close-up-of-memorial-for-chuck-deely

Newspaper article taped to the wall, above the flowers

There is currently an unofficial Facebook action to build a monument in his honor somewhere in the Grote Markt, but only time will tell if that happens (or what exactly the monument would look like).

It is weird – I’ve only been here four years but I can’t imagine not seeing him or hearing his music anymore. Thanks for the tunes, Chuck!

Edited Sunday 29 January to add pictures of the memorial at Central Station:

These pictures were taken last Sunday, January 22:

flowers-for-chuck-deely-central-station

And a close-up of the mini guitar (on the right side of the above picture):

mini-guitar-by-chuck-deelys-memorial-at-central-station

Categories: Daily Dutch living, The Hague | Tags: , | 3 Comments

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