Author Archives: Niki

About Niki

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

Happy Easter! (Or: Bunny butts?)

Happy Easter! Here is a card that Marco and I received:

The card was designed by Marco’s father and his wife.

Both Marco and I were amused by the bunny butt…

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Categories: Friends&Family, Holidays | Tags: | 1 Comment

Warm weather (Or: Who needs a jacket?)

Yesterday I had the day off so I went for a walk. The weather has been great for the Easter holiday: 70-75F with a ton of sun. One of the places I walked through is the Binnenhof, a place mentioned a lot on this blog. I like going there and watching the tourists, actually. It’s weird to live somewhere that tourists visit. So I go there and watch the families and friends excitedly taking photos of this and that…

Here is my photo, with the beautiful blue sky behind.

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

SET restaurant in The Hague (Or: Experiencing Japanse cuisine)

A few weeks back Marco, Roger and I went to SET restaurant in The Hague. We have been there a few times, but every time I went we have just had the lunchtime bento box. This time we sampled from the sushi side of the menu. We also sampled a few Japanese drinks: Calpis (a soft drink) and cold sake.

The blue plate really ties it together… In the foreground is sushi with eel, in the background shrimp.
A look out the window from our seat. The restaurant is near the Grote Kerk (Big Church or St. James church).

I loved where we were seated. It was its own cubby hole. The table was also sunk into the ground a bit (you had to step down to get to it) so it made it seem like you were sitting on the ground without actually sitting on the ground.

And we can’t forget the dessert! So cute.

Ice and sand chocolate dessert

The chocolate sauce drawing was a nice (unexpected) touch. My dessert was called Ice and sand chocolate and was chocolate ice cream. It was quite frozen, which did give it a sort of crumbly texture, so the “sand” part of the name definitely made sense. It was quite tasty.

I can definitely recommend this place. Everything we have had there is delicious, from the drinks to the sushi to the bento boxes. And now I can add the desserts to that list!

Categories: Food | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Pizza dough (Or: Is it really pancakes…?)

Here’s an example of things that can be very confusing for non-native speakers:

So the top blue arrow points to the description Mix voor Pizzabodem or Mix for pizza dough in English. So we’re making pizza…

…but the second blue arrow says that the prepared product will make about 20 pancakes. What? It’s just logical enough that it could work – here’s a Dutch recipe for pizzas made with pancake batter. But still, it doesn’t seem right…

I’ve asked a few Dutchies and they all think it is a typo. What do you think?

Categories: Everyday purchases, Food, Reading | 3 Comments

Improvements by Albert Heijn (Or: Shorter receipts)

One of the better improvements for Albert Heijn, a local grocery store, is the option for self-scan. And not the version I’ve seen in the United States where you need to weigh each item as you scan it to make sure there’s no thievery going on. Here it is simply scan each item and then pay at the end. Though I do understand the need for the US system.

Self-scan at Albert Heijn is wonderful. It’s no longer horrible to go right after work, when its crowded and the lines are 5 to 7 customers long. Seriously – before self-scan I would always swear a bit if Marco asked me to pick up something after work, it was that bad. Those days are long gone, as I can count on one hand the times I’ve had to wait for an available self-scan register, and even that was never longer than 30 seconds.

The only problem with self-scan: You are required to print out a receipt, since you need to scan the receipt to allow the exit gates to open. I almost always said no to a receipt previously, when going through a “manned” line with a checkout worker. Why waste paper?

That is also now a thing of the past!

Longer, full receipt (for ONE item!) on the left, versus the short receipt on the right.

This week after paying I was greeted with the question “Would you like a full receipt, or only a short receipt to open the gates?” Very nice. You can see the difference above, with the bar code removed. A great improvement, Albert Heijn!

Oh, and for the people who read small font really well, yes, the receipt says “1 insecten”. I did not win or buy an insect, rather, Albert Heijn has a promotion where you can receive insect stickers and fake insect tattoos for every 10 euros spent. The receipt lets the worker know that I can receive 1 set because I’ve spent more than 10 euros.

Categories: Daily Dutch living, Everyday purchases | Tags: | 2 Comments

Time to vote! (Or: 2019 provincial elections)

Today the Netherlands can vote for the 2019 provincial elections and for the local water authority (English Wikipedia link). The first election is also indirectly important because the provincial members elected today will vote for the Senate members in May.

Voting at The Hague’s city hall

There are many places to vote, including 68 train stations (link in Dutch) as well as in the two Dutch parliamentary buildings (Eerste Kamer, Tweede Kamer, or Senate and House of Representatives in English). It’s the first time the Senate has been open as a voting location. But for me, I like the city hall as it is quite photogenic.

As you might have guessed, “stem” means vote.

Personally I can only vote for the local water authority, as the provincial elections are only open to Dutch nationals. This makes sense. But it is still nice to be able to vote for the water authority and (back in March 2018) the local government.

Voting was very fast – when I arrived there was no line. Of course, I deliberately waited until a bit later in the morning. When I left a line had started to form, so it is simply a question of luck.

There was also an elections desk where you could go with questions and for voting-related arrangements. I realized later that this was the help desk in the weeks leading up to the election (therefore it was not in use today).

Not sure what that apple is doing on the ground. When I took the photo I hadn’t even seen it.

Categories: Daily Dutch living, The Hague | Tags: | Leave a comment

Wabi Sabi (Or: Reading on a rainy day)

The weather here has been absolutely dreadful. Monday morning I made the mistake of wearing my lighter jacket, not realizing how bad the wind would be. With the windchill, it was about 0C/32F. Brrrr! I made coffee the second I got home, let me tell you. And now it’s Wednesday. The weather is a tiny bit better, but not really. It’s still cold, windy and rainy.

One fun thing to do on days like this is to read. My current Dutch novel is Wabi-Sabi by Francesc Miralles. Wabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophy of accepting your imperfections and making the most of your life. But that’s not why I grabbed the book. I grabbed it because it starts with a cat!


One note about the various editions: the Dutch version I am reading seems to be two books in one, totaling around 400 pages. If you’re instead reading it in English, you should look for Love in Lowercase to read the first half. Let me tell you: if the book had that title and this book cover instead I wouldn’t have given it a try. I am not big on romances.

But to me, I just saw the cat. Which is funny, since I am not a big cat person. I tolerate them, of course. I think they are darn cute. I love how soft they feel to the touch. But I don’t really trust that they won’t go berserk at a moment’s notice and claw me for no reason. I love reading about them, though. Also try The Guest Cat by Takeshi Hiraide.

This book is pretty easy to read in Dutch. The font size is big enough (not any of that annoying fine print sized font) and the author has a habit of writing 3-4 page chapters. You won’t hear me complaining about that. I do remember one time I found a book in Dutch online, thinking it would be a great read. I checked it out from the library without opening it until I got home. Imagine my disappointment when I saw the abysmal font size and the lack of paragraph breaks (seriously, I found a page with no paragraph break on either the left OR the right side). That one quickly went back to the library unread.

Anyway: the theme of this book so far is sort of the butterfly effect (an idea that a small change can cause something much bigger to happen). The cat stops by, and ends up staying. Because of that, the main character meets his next door neighbor, ends up going to the vet, sees a love he thought he’d never see again, etc. It’s very enjoyable so far.

Ah, and it’s raining again.

Categories: Reading | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A late night (Or: Ajax football and Captain Marvel)

Note: there are no spoilers for Captain Marvel in this post.

Last night was a fun night with Marco and Roger. First off, we watched the Ajax-Real Madrid Champions League football game. Amsterdam’s Ajax team lost the previous match against Real Madrid 2-1 so they needed to win by at least two goals last night to proceed to the quarter finals. And that they did – winning 4-1! The coolest goal was the last one Ajax made (YouTube).

The best part about the game was that it started at 9pm and ended around 11pm. Which was really good for us, since after that we were going to a midnight showing of Captain Marvel. Generally movies premiere on Wednesdays in the Netherlands, and since 12:01am is also Wednesday… yeah.

Fun thing: I noticed that the movie theatre had ruby chocolate KitKats. If you’ve never tried ruby chocolate, you should. It is a bit sour, but still sweet like chocolate.

movie theatre snacks!

While we were waiting in the downstairs lobby (the upper part was roped off so they could clean the theatre from the previous showing) I took a picture of The Hague’s library:

looking down at The Hague Central Library (library=bibliotheek)

The movie was pretty good. I liked it and was definitely entertained even though I was sleep deprived. I thought the cat stole the show. More about the cat here, with a few minor spoilers if you don’t read the Captain Marvel comics.

And lastly: of course there is a Stan Lee tribute. The theatre clapped for that.

Categories: Sports | Tags: , | Leave a comment

To celebrate the good weather (Or: By Hofhouse)

Full disclosure: this picture was actually taken at the end of June last year, on a Friday. The weather was spectacular that day. It was taken at Hofhouse, here in The Hague. The only drawback is they aren’t open in the weekends, although that makes sense since they are reliant on the traffic to Central Station.

Marco and I enjoying a beer at the start of the weekend last year

This week’s weather has also been great, considering it is mid-February. The weekend and the last few days have been 15C-18C (about 60-65F). Of course, the weather gets colder after today, but still – we are still above average temperatures tomorrow.

And it’s not even March yet… kind of scary, when you think about it!

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

Wrapped in fog (Or: Buitenhof in The Hague)

Last week I took a photo of the Buitenhof here in The Hague:

And a photo where the flags are less prominent:

It was a cold day that day. Whereas this past Saturday we had temperatures of almost 60F (15C), with similar temperatures expected this weekend. Time to sit outside for hours soaking in the sun!

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

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