Author Archives: Niki

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Sinterklaas (Or: HTM’s newest tram driver?)

I kid, I kid.

Sinterklaas (a figure based on Saint Nicholas) will be arriving in the Netherlands from Spain on Saturday, 12 November. This year he will be arriving in Hellevoetsluis, which apparently is a city in South Holland. Who knew? English Wikipedia apparently. His arrival in Hellevoetsluis will be televised. But on the day (or around the same day) he arrives in pretty much every Dutch city. How, you ask? Magic. He is Sinterklaas after all.

He will also be arriving in The Hague on Saturday, November 12, in the Scheveningen haven. But this year, due to all of the road work going on throughout the city, he will be taking the tram! And as reports (in Dutch), you might even see him driving the tram. But first he needs to take a driving lesson before he is allowed to do that.

The full list of places he will visit can be found at The parade starts at 12:30 at Vissershavenweg and ends at Lange Voorhout at 17:05. If all goes to schedule, that is.

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Anyone ready for a heat wave? (Or: Issues with Buienradar) is a well-known Dutch website for weather. Buien = showers/rainfall.

A few days ago they had this as a 14 day prediction for The Hague:

In other words, late next week the temperature would go from about 66F to 95F. That sounds nice! But no, it was just an unfortunate bug in the data which has since been fixed. Actually the temperatures will be dropping from 17C to 13C (62F to 55F). It is probably for the best that it isn’t 95F in late October…

See also: Buienradar: in deel Zuid-Holland volgende week 36 graden from

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Don’t forget to drink your Ovaltine… (Or: Ovomaltine?)

Ovaltine, I mean. Don’t forget to drink your Ovaltine is a line from A Christmas Story (1983), a film which was popularized by the the American TV channel TNT’s 24 hour marathons every Christmas Day. It was definitely always on tv every year at my house growing up.

Spotted at the local Asian store, and the inspiration for this blog post:

Apparently it is a “milk flavoring product” according to Wikipedia. Its original name was indeed ovomaltine, but it will always be Ovaltine to me. You can also get it at the local grocery store under the name ovomaltine ( in Dutch).

Speaking of A Christmas Story, there is a sequel coming out on HBO Max next month: A Christmas Story Christmas ( Ralphie, the main character in the first movie, returns to his childhood home to give his kids a Christmas like he had growing up. We will need to wait and see how the film fares. Usually sequels like this don’t do well in the box office (Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure, anyone?) but one can hope.

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A long way from home (Or: Anyone looking for a shopping cart?)

In September I went to The Hague’s Albert Heijn XL grocery store. As you might guess from the “XL” in the name, it’s a bigger version of the normal Albert Heijns. It still sells 95% of the same items that a normal Albert Heijn would, just more variety. The XL stores are a lot larger, closer to the size of an American grocery store like Shoprite, Jewel-Osco or Kroger.

I knew I was almost in the neighborhood of this Albert Heijn when I saw shopping carts in the neighborhood:

You could say that people are being nice by putting the carts together and stacking the smaller hand baskets on top, so if an Albert Heijn employee wanted to come get them it would only be one trip. Although this wasn’t the only place I spotted them in the neighborhood.

In other news:

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Somewhere it must be Christmas (Or: Decorations at TK Maxx)

TK Maxx is a European apparels and home fashion store. And if you are American and wondering if this is the same company as TJ Maxx, why yes, yes it is.

This company thinks it is Christmas already:

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mind at all. I just find it a bit funny. And by the way, all of the things you see on the racks in the picture above are Christmas soap dispensers. Including the dog with the red sweater on the second highest shelf.

Maybe we skip straight ahead to Christmas in this country because Halloween isn’t that big here and Thanksgiving doesn’t exist. Although the Netherlands does have the Sinterklaas holiday (English Wikipedia) on 5 December, so who knows.

I have to admit these are cute: little wooden sleighs with a few packages and a mini Christmas tree. However, the packages must have been little mini bricks as the decoration was way heavier than I expected when I picked it up.

Anyone else spotting Christmas decorations popping up in stores?

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Every day a new dog awaits (Or: Sand art in the city centre)

If you visit The Hague’s city centre in the afternoons, there is a good chance you will see some doggy-related sand art:

Of course, the person was still in the middle of sculpting so the dog looks more like he lost a lot of weight very, very quickly. Here is a close up:

See also: Bijna dagelijks ligt deze hond van zand op de Grote Marktstraat, maar waarom? (This dog of sand is lying on the Grote Markstraat almost every day. Why?) from in Dutch. Apparently this dog sand art is frequently seen in other Dutch cities and even London. Of course the sculptors hope you will drop a few coins into their bag as you walk past, and it seems like dogs are an easy thing to sculpt. If you stick around long enough you will also see puppies being formed. Or just click the news article above to see some sand puppies.

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Up, up and away (Or: The Art of DC comics exhibition in Groningen)

While in Groningen Marco and I also visited the Art of DC comics exhibition (official website in English) at Forum Groningen. The forum is a multipurpose building which includes exhibition space, a cinema, a library, a café and more. It’s not a good place if you’re afraid of heights, though. It has about 7-8 floors and lots of escalators. And of course the escalators aren’t on top of each other, so when you’re on floor 5 going to floor 6, there’s 5 floors of nothingness directly below you. Hmph. You can get an idea of what I mean by checking this link (, it’s an image bank site).

Here are some pictures of the costumes. You can see the difference in suits as the years pass – at first quite basic, and then more intricate suits as the years go by (actually, this image doesn’t even show the first superman suit they had on display).

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Oasis in the city centre (Or: Prinsentuin in Groningen)

Marco and I celebrated our wedding anniversary (19 September) a bit early this year by taking a trip to the north of The Netherlands to visit a city called Groningen. It was a pretty far journey by Dutch standards (2 hours and 40 minutes by train) although by American standards it could be considered a daily commute…?

One of the highlights of the visit was the Prinsentuin in the northern part of the city centre.

This garden was created in 1626 and includes a rose garden, herb garden and “berceaus” (a sort of tree tunnel where trees line both sides and are allowed to grow into each other, creating a tunnel).

Those tunnels are very handy when it begins to rain unexpectedly! If you were hiding in the tunnel you could (mostly) stay dry. This part of the garden gave me Secret Garden vibes (English Wikipedia).

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Rijswijk (Or: The evolution of In de Bogaard)

In de Bogaard is a shopping area in Rijswijk, not far from The Hague. Although I keep forgetting that the name changed from In de Bogaard to Bogaard stadscentrum (Bogaard city centre) last year. See also the Dutch Wikipedia page. It will always be In de Bogaard for me, much like Disneyland Paris is always Euro Disney to me, even though the name changed years before. Actually before I moved to the Netherlands, but Marco and I always used Euro Disney so the name stuck in my mind.

On that note, all the best to my parents who will be visiting Mickey in Florida in the near future. Have fun!

But I digress. The shopping centre in Rijswijk was in desperate need of a pick-me-up. Does anyone remember the green fountain water back in 2012? I do, and I have photographic proof. Yuck. These days that area has lovely landscaping and parks for kids to play in (see below). There’s a dedicated bike path cutting through the plaza, too. Not that I bike, but it always good to know where not to walk so I don’t get run over. That is important in this country.

The shopping area is behind and to the left; this photo looks away from it. But the new fountain isn’t green. The running water helps of course.

Here is one of the shopping streets. I thought it was amusing to look up and see umbrellas as decoration, considering it hadn’t rained for most of the summer. We’ve gotten a decent amount of rain this past week, though.

There are lots of plans for this area in the future. For example some of the shopping areas will be demolished to make room for housing and “green” areas like parks for residents. You can read more at the official website (in Dutch).

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Rain, rain, rain! (With: A bit of thunder mixed in for good measure)

Except for a brief spell one afternoon, I don’t think it has rained in The Hague for at least a month and a half. Perhaps that figure isn’t 100% correct, but you get the idea. Over the weekend I was running errands and I was disturbed to realize the pavement stones were so sticky in some spots that my shoes were getting sucked in. Ew.

But finally, tonight, the pavement gets a good cleaning:

Bring on the rain! And thunder too. There is never enough thunder and lightning in this country.

This website is It isn’t always the most predictable of websites – or perhaps I shouldn’t put some much faith into it – but it is useful enough. More water for the plants and trees!

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