Author Archives: Niki

About Niki

I run the blog http://www.lifeinthehague.com

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!

flowers-by-albert-heijn

A bushel of flowers

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

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

Categories: The Hague, Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

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!

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

A few delicious meals (Or: Fajitas, Chicken Indian style)

Friday Marco and I made fajitas. I just love the colors of the photo!

fajitas-in-a-wok

Cooking fajitas in a wok pan. Everything (red and white onions, peppers, courgette, coriander, tomatoes…) and of course awesomely seasoned chicken!

Saturday, Marco, Roger and I made an Indian dish – chickens with (whole) shallots.

chicken-with-shallots-rice-and-green-beans

Chicken and whole shallots in the lower left, rice and green beans. In the upper left you have a ‘keep warm’ device generally used for tortilla wraps. In this case, though, it is keeping the naan bread warm. 

It was quite tasty – and let me just say, the shallots just fell apart. The receipt came from Indian Food and Cooking by Mridula Baljekar, a Christmas gift from Roger to Marco. (Marco got a lot of cooking items this Christmas!).

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Roses by Athene Palace (Or: View of city hall)

Marco and I went out to eat tonight with his father and wife. Tonight’s restaurant was Athene Palace, a Greek restaurant. I had lamb in pepper sauce. Lekker!

Outside provided a lovely view of the city hall and main library in the nighttime…

roses-by-athene-palace-in-the-hague

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Be the first to defuse an exploding kitten (Or: Fun card games)

For Christmas Marco and I got Roger a copy of Exploding Kittens, a card game “for people who are into kittens and explosions. And laser beams. And sometimes goats”. In this case we got the NSFW version, but they also have a normal version.

exploding-kittens-card-game

A look at the card game

It’s an interesting card game. The goal is to not get an exploding kitten card (the black card at right). If you do, you are out of the game unless you also have a green defuse card like the one on the left. Two interesting twists:

  • You end your turn by picking up a card, rather than starting your turn by doing so.
  • There is no need to reshuffle the current deck because the game will definitely end by the last card. This is because you the number of exploding kittens and defuse cards is based on the size of the group playing, and you always have one less defuse card than exploding kitten card.

We also played a game of Skip-Bo, another card game. That game has the advantage of time management – the number of cards you deal at the beginning of the game to each player is your choice. If you deal less cards, the game ends quicker than if you had dealt more cards.

skip-bo-card-game

Finally, a shoutout to a friend living in Japan who sent over some nice snacks. In this case, the Japanese snacks are the larger pieces in the upper right:

various-salty-snacks-while-playing-skip-bo

Not quite sure what they are made of, but they were good! Thanks again!

The other snacks are sour cream and chive pretzels as well as Dutch borrelnootjes (“party nuts”) – Dutch Wikipedia. They are peanuts surrounded by a salty, spiced layer. A bit hard to describe, but tasty in moderation.

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A burst of color (Or: 2016 New Year’s celebrations)

This past Saturday Marco, Roger and I celebrated the closing of 2016. As per our yearly tradition, after midnight we go outside for about an hour and check out the fireworks. This year it was quite foggy even before people started setting off fireworks, so it seemed like most people began their celebrations early in the night rather than waiting until midnight.

My favourite photo from that night had nothing to do with the fireworks – it was of the Christmas lights at a house. Although since the lights were red white and blue you could say they were celebrating their nationality:

christmas-lights-on-new-years-eve-2016-the-hague

high-flying-fireworks-on-new-years-eve-2016-the-hague

While some of this fog was due to the fireworks, it really was a pretty foggy night

purple-fireworks-on-new-years-eve-2016-the-hague

A bit of purple to brighten the night sky

tending-to-the-fire-on-new-years-eve-2016-the-hague

Quality time with family and friends

Everyone seemed to have the fire “baskets” you see above. Not sure where they came from.

All in all, yet another fun year. 🙂

Categories: Holidays | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Not so Christmasy Christmas (Or: San Francisco for the holidays)

Last week Marco and I were in San Francisco for the holidays with my parents, brother and sister-in-law. It was a short trip, but a lot of fun! I didn’t take too many pictures this time, but here is a small sampling:

san-francisco-pier

One of the piers at San Francisco

bridge-in-san-francisco

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (not to be confused with the Golden Gate bridge which everyone photographs)

powell-and-market-cable-car-san-francisco-wooden-platform

Powell and Market cable car

This cable car is positioned at the turnaround point – the cable car stops on a wooden platform before being rotated to head back in the same direction it came. See a demonstration at YouTube.

holiday-sugar-castle-in-westin-hotel-san-francisco-2016

Sugar castle at Westin St. Hotel lobby, San Francisco (free to view, donations optional)

We also visited the Exploratorium, an interactive exhibit hall for both kids and adults. It was a lot of fun and I can highly recommend it. One of the exhibits was the Curious Contraptions exhibit. Clicking the link will show a short 47 second video of what made them so curious…

swimmers-at-exploratorium-curious-contraptions-exhibit

Turn a crank and watch the item move (or in this case, press a button on the outside of the glass since these items are too delicate to be touched directly).

Another example of automata are the Dutch Strandbeest creatures created by Theo Jansen, born in nearby Scheveningen. Those were also referenced in the Exploratorium.

Finally, here is a fun workout for you:

manual-counter-at-exploritorium-in-san-francisco

“Your turn counts” exhibit

Read more about it at the exhibit page – basically if you turn the lever at the right, the wooden wheel spins. Turn that ten times and the grey wheel (currently at 0, though the 9 can also be seen) turns once. Turn THAT once (so the wooden wheel 100 times) and the next wheel turns, the black one currently at 0, and so on. Patience…

All in all a fun trip. And you better believe we raided a few grocery stores for some American snacks!

Categories: Friends&Family | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A gift from Marco (Or: …Now I am craving chocolate)

Chocolate!

Marco bought these for me – they are the size of drink coasters (onderzetters, in Dutch) and the theme is chocolate (droooool):

four-chocolate-sayings

The four sayings are:

  1. Chocolate comes from cocoa – which is a plant – therefore chocolate counts as a salad. The end.
  2. Chocolate doesn’t ask silly questions. Chocolate understands.
  3. All I want is peace, love and a chocolate bar bigger than my head. (My favorite!)
  4. I love you more than chocolate, but please don’t make me prove it.

Yum.

Categories: Food, Marco&Niki | Tags: | Leave a comment

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