Monthly Archives: March 2018

New York City – Dutchified (Or: Ravensburger puzzle, 1000 pieces)

For Christmas I was gifted a Ravensburger puzzle from Roger. It was made from a good quality – even using “soft lock technology” apparently. I found it interesting that the puzzle used a dark blue backing instead of the light gray backing that most puzzles use.

Ravensburger puzzle - New York Cities of the World 1000 piecesThere were two minor weird things with this puzzle:

  1. There is a part of the actual puzzle that doesn’t match the box it came in. Look in the lower left with the lady in green – in the actual puzzle she leans over to the right, worried because the man behind her is choking on a herring. On the box, she panics a bit and falls backward because the seller is shoving a herring in her face.
  2. There was an extra puzzle piece that did not fit anywhere. The puzzle itself is done, and has no gaps. You can see it in the photo below, to the left of the actual puzzle.

Ravensburger Cities of the World New York close up

If you’re looking closely, you’ll notice that the puzzle itself is within a flat case. The exact model I have is Jumbo luxe puzzelkoffer – 1000 stukjes. It makes for really easy storage. There are two additional panels which are shown in the link which you can also use to store pieces on top of. When you are ready to store everything, you put the panels on top of the puzzle to create a tight fit so that none of the pieces move. You could even store the work-in-progress horizontally. I have successfully tested this but normally store it vertically.

I am of course already working on my next puzzle

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Voting at city hall (Or: Local elections 2018)

Today Marco and I visited city hall after work to vote for the local elections:

Voting sign in The Hague city hall

To the voting area!

The Hague has 286 places to vote if my math is correct. Unfortunately the Central Library wasn’t a place you could vote this year. You could vote in a special tram (link in Dutch) however. I would have loved that. But it’s not a tram line I’d ever take, and it was running as a normal tram at the time. Imagine missing your stop!

Line of voters at The Hague city hall, 2018

Pictured: about half of the line

It didn’t take us too long – about 10 minutes at the most to get to the front of the line.

Number of voters by hour, The Hague, 2018

Live updates of the percentage of voters who had already voted, by hour

Admittedly, the number of voters is lower than 4 years ago when it was 51% at the close of voting (9pm). As of 8:15pm now it is 45.2%. The results are not expected until around midnight, give or take.

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First time voter in the Netherlands (Or: Local elections tomorrow)

Tomorrow most of the Netherlands goes to the polls for local elections. This will be the first time I can vote in the Netherlands! This is because I have lived in the Netherlands for five uninterrupted years.

Here is a picture of my stempas (voting card) with personal information greyed out:

Stempas or voting pass for The Hague, 2018

The card arrived in the mail a few weeks back, automatically. In the Netherlands every person is required to register with the municipality in the Basisregistratie Personen (BRP)  or the Personal Records Database. I did that within a few days of moving to the country. It records life’s big moments – birth, marriage, divorce, and death, along with address changes. The database is used to determine who can vote for what. (In my case, I can vote for the local elections but I will never be able to vote for anything higher unless I obtain Dutch citizenship.)

There are some good sites available for voters, both in English and in Dutch. In this case, I tend to seek out information in English due to the nature of what I am reading, but I also supplement it with information in Dutch. For example, DutchNews.nl has some information and links available for expat voters.

There are, of course, various polls available to see which party matches your interests the best. For example, Stemwijzer Den Haag (knowledge of Dutch required).

Finally, here’s a look at what the ballot looks like.

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A watcher (Or: Statue at the Veenkade)

The great thing about The Hague (and the Netherlands in general) is the random artwork and statues that can be found in the city. Here was a recent photo of mine:

Statue at the Veenkade, The Hague

And here is a close up of the statue:

Close up of the statue at the Veenkade, The Hague

It is on the Veenkade, near De Bieb and the old library, before it moved to the Spui.

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Five Guys Burgers and Fries (Or: I am jealous of Utrecht)

Marco had the good luck of being in Utrecht recently, although he wouldn’t describe it as good luck because he was there for work. But he did have the good luck to be able to visit the recently opened Five Guys Burgers and Fries. This American fast food restaurant opened its first location in Arlington, Virginia back in 1986. You can read more about the history of Five Guys.

I think for me the appeal is the simple menu. They mainly sell burgers and fries (duh) with a few hotdogs and sandwiches on the side. Of course they need to have a grilled cheese (tosti) to cater to the Dutch crowd.

Here is the menu in English:

Five Guys in Utrecht - English menu

(Did you see that in the milkshakes section they encourage you to add bacon to any shake?)

Continue reading

Categories: Food, Utrecht | 1 Comment

Reester bunny (Or: Chocolate and eggs everywhere)

Today Marco and I went to Kelly’s Expat Shopping here in The Hague. It’s a great store for American and British food and a store I’ve blogged about before. The one thing I get almost every time is Ritz crackers. Yum! Snagged another box today…

I was quite amused by the “Reester bunny” you could buy:

Reese's chocolate bunny (Or Reester bunny)

Their Easter selection is pretty good when it comes to chocolate, I must admit. Lots of Cadbury eggs.

Pop or soda for 10 euros - 12 pack

Did you know it costs 10 euros for a 12 pack of pop/soda? And that’s a discounted price! Back home you could get it for 2/$5 during the right sale. Of course, that’s just how it goes when you’re an expat so far from home.

And here is a fun photo from the Albert Heijn XL on Elandstraat:

Chocolate easter eggs for sale at Albert Heijn XL, The HagueAnyone need any chocolate eggs? There are lots of flavors to choose from… But still, it doesn’t compare to the Reester bunny. Don’t you just want to nibble on those ears?

Categories: Food, Holidays, The Hague | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Screaming kids (Or: A signal that Rutte is near by)

A few weeks ago I was walking in the area of the Buitenhof (Dutch parliament). I heard a bit of (positive) screaming, as if someone had spotted a rock star. I look over but only see a group of school kids on the other side of the road (by the Buitenhof / the lake, where the red line starts). I’m on the other side, closer to Plaats/Museum de Gevangepoort.

View of the Buitenhof in The Hague, Google maps

Strange, I think to myself. I keep walking. The screaming intensifies. I look over again, and realize a few of the kids have broken from the group and are running along the water (towards the yellow star – don’t you love how I annotate a Google Maps photo?).

Obviously I know I am not the cause of their affection, so I glance around again. And then realize the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is walking about 5 meters / 15 feet in front of me. No security to be seen (it’s not like he is Wilders). Cool, I think. I debate grabbing my phone for a photo for the blog, but decide against it. That would be weird.

Now most of the kids are screaming. I see him laugh as he waves to the kids, which only increases their adoration. I remember thinking to myself at least they are smart enough not to dart off into traffic to say hi – they merely keep running on their side of the street to keep up with him.

He then cuts left and crosses the street to their side (brave man) by where the yellow star is and the statue of King Willem II. Rutte is then surrounded by a wall of kids, luckily still tall enough to be seen. He graciously allows his photo to be taken with the group, which cause a final, resounding scream of joy.

I then decide, hey, I want a picture too!

It’s hard to tell because he is wearing a black jacket, but he is at the base of the tree (you can see his face).

School children surrounding Dutch prime minister Rutte.jpg

What surprised me the most was the kids’ reaction for a politician – how happy they were to catch a glimpse of him. But it was fun to experience it.

Categories: The Hague | Tags: | 2 Comments

Just a bit of snow (Or: Buitenhof in the winter)

The Netherlands has been under a cold spell recently. The wind changed direction and started coming from Siberia. No joke. There was one day with a temperature that felt like -20c (-4f). Brrr! 

But it did bring out some nice photos, including one of mine:

Snow on the Buitenhof, The Hague.jpg

I am happy to report that the wind changed direction on Sunday, so the breeze bit of snow is now gone again. Not that I have anything against snow, but this country definitely doesn’t know how to deal with it.

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