This past Saturday was the celebrations for Chinese New Year in The Hague. I took some photos of the “statues” that represent the holiday. Upon closer inspection, I noticed these are mostly the same statues used back in 2013 for the first Chinese New Year I attended (scroll down to the second-to-last photo).
I’ve taken some better, close-up photos of some of them this year. For example, my favorite:
For some of them it was actually a bit hard to tell which of the 12 animals they represent, but because a few stripes on the top of this guy’s head (above), I think he might represent the year of the tiger.
A Cheeses & More store by Henri Willig has recently opened in The Hague, not far from the Binnenhof. This chain bills itself as a ‘cheese gifts’ store so expect slightly higher prices.
It looks a bit touristy from the outside:
The location isn’t marked that well on Google Maps, but if you’re coming from the Hofvijver (the famous pond) and you’re at the Bagels & Beans café, then keep walking past it and follow the corner. The cheese store will be on the left.
Marco and I aren’t cheese experts, mainly sticking to a few standard cheeses. I was thrilled when the local grocery store started carrying cheddar cheese. It goes great with the Ritz crackers from Kelly’s, the local expat store. Otherwise our standard fare is a jonge belegen cheese which is ripe at about 2 months and translates to ‘young, mature’.
I had a purpose for visiting this Cheeses & More store, as I knew they carried a lovely spicy cheese. We first tried it (or something similar) when Marco’s mom brought back cheese from Alkmaar, a city well known for its cheese market.
We had seen the cheese at Schiphol airport as we were flying to the States for Thanksgiving, but didn’t have time to pick it up after we arrived back in the Netherlands:
I wonder how many people accidentally ask for the ‘red hot chili peppers’ cheese. Ha!
Happy Chinese New Year! 2019 is the year of the pig. And not the gluttonous kind…
The Hague will again feature Chinese New Year celebrations this Saturday to mark the occasion – see the scheduled program. The holiday is celebrated nationally in city hall while the local celebrations are held in Chinatown, including Rabbijn Maarsenplein and Bijenkorf’s parking lot.
I’ve always been a big fan of the local celebrations held at Rabbijn Maarsenplein (with its Chinese New Year market) and the area behind Bijenkorf (which always has lovely sculptures). But the dance routines in city hall are not to be missed, either!
Just before Christmas Marco, Roger and I decided to try out a new food place in The Hague. Well, Marco – being the adventurous soul he is – had already visited it during lunch one Friday and brought back the good news to us.
In late October a Vietnamese street food restaurant with the name of Viet Street opened. It sounded delicious so Roger and I quickly agreed to try it out. We decided to go there for a late lunch before seeing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse at the movies (which was awwwwwesome).
Because we were not sure about the portion sizes we ordered some spring rolls to split as a starter, although I didn’t snag a photo of those. Marco and Roger both got Vietnamese pancakes (stuffed with shrimp and/or pork belly, if I remember correctly) with the usual added veggies on the side. You open up your pancake and throw them in as needed.
Not far from The Hague’s Central Station, a small monument for Chuck Deely has appeared. Chuck was a street musician who passed away two years ago today. Earlier in 2018 he received a mural on one of the tram tunnels (scroll down a bit to see the photo).
This memorial can be found outside of the entrance to Rijnstraat 8. This building is across from the main entrance of The Hague’s Central Station, and houses many government ministries. After crossing the tram tracks and the small street, look for the white marble blocks on your left.
There’s no name of description of what this is, so you’d definitely need to be a local to know.
Here are a few photos from the New Years Eve celebrations this year, taking sometime after midnight. It definitely seemed like most people did their fireworks before midnight rather than after. There were still a lot of fireworks going off — I just didn’t get any good photos of those!
And what would a blog post be without a photo of a small New Years Eve fire:
And finally, here’s a link to a drone video on YouTube someone made this year of the New Year’s Eve celebrations here in The Hague. They also made a video of last year’s fireworks extravaganza as well.
Every year on New Year’s Eve, Scheveningen and Duindorp build huge bonfires, one trying to outdo the other. They are actually right by each other, with Scheveningen on the north side of the beach and Duindorp on the south side.
The above picture is from Scheveningen in 2015-2016, when it captured the Guinness World Record for largest bonfire at 8,695 cubic meters. And Duindorp had the record the year before that, to give you some idea of the competition (!).
Here is a link to a drone video of the preparation earlier last week. The cool thing is you can see the other bonfire rising up at the other end of the beach as well. The preparation was not without some hard feelings this year. For instance a truck with pallets for Duindorp accidentally drove to Scheveningen and unloaded the pallets there. The article also goes on to say that Duindorp reached its maximum height and was told to stop, while Scheveningen was at a similar height but was not told to stop building. For that reason, Duindorp started adding more pallets overnight, but stopped again when morning broke. And the article also mentions that some youth in Duindorp were threatening “builders” for the bonfire in Scheveningen who happened to also live in Duindorp.
So you can see that things were a bit riled up this year, which led to the bonfires being higher than they should have been (safety wise). But everything was approved and went ahead last night, and when the bonfire in Scheveningen was lit, it was spectacular.
And then the wind quickly changed direction, and two things were brought with it (video from nu.nl): a rain of fire descending on the beach and nearby houses, and tornados of fire. Actual tornados! One of the beach tents started burning and the fire department cleared out the boulevard as no one wanted to get out of the way for emergency vehicles. They had to use a bit of force (and police dogs) to get everyone to clear out.
Here you can see some of the damage to the surrounding area. Luckily there were no injuries. The fire department did an exceptional job keeping some of the more important buildings wet throughout the night (including the Old Church) to keep them safe.
As mentioned in a few months back, the oliebollenkraam (= stand to sell oliebollen) has temporarily moved to the Grote Markt due to construction around the Spuiplein. I suspect the move has been good for them and they are making much more money where they currently are. They are consistently voted one of the best stands in this providence.
Oliebollen is sort of like a doughnut and covered in powdered sugar. They are traditionally filled with raisins, but you can get them without raisins as well these days. They are eaten around New Years Eve, although you can also find them at carnivals throughout the year.
Here is a look at the line around 10:30 this morning:
And a close up, to show you what the stand looks like:
So the lines weren’t too bad at 10:30. This is what it looks like around 14:30, just four hours later:
There’s still three lines, give or take, and they stretch just to the edge of the tram/bus area. Compare that to the lines in 2014 and 2015. Of course that is at the old location, where it is easier to just have a single line.
I suspect the crowds will be greatest around 17:00, when everyone is out of work. However by then festivities will also be starting at our place so we won’t be going outside until closer to midnight, for the fireworks.