A few weeks ago Marco and I went to Utrecht for half a day. It’s about a 45 minute train ride – when the trains ride properly anyway. There were some issues that day, so I think it took about an hour and a half to get there. Opps! It’s a city in the middle of the Netherlands with about 350,000 residents.
The main reason for this trip was to visit the Hoog Catharijne mall, which has probably been under renovation for years. At least it seemed that way. I don’t think it is completely done, but the parts that are done look really good. Check it out:
And just outside the mall in one of the canals is a piece of art: a whale made of plastic. Of course, a statement on plastic in the oceans.
And a close-up look at the whale from the front:
It’s a nice day trip, especially when you a combine it with a tour of the older parts of the city (which we did a few years back).
This photo was taken last weekend while Marco and I were visiting Scheveningen with a few friends. It shows the outdoor portion of Museum Beelden aan Zee, with an oversized statue eating herring. That is a well-known tradition in these parts called “Hollandse Nieuwe” where people look forward to the traditional start date of the herring season.
Of course, if you look really closely you can see that his feet are stomping on much smaller statues, but okay… we’ll ignore that.
After the usual visit to the statues part we headed down to the beach, even getting our feet wet (and in my case gingerly stepping over seashells). The sea water was a bit cold, but we got used to it after a while. Most interesting were the little ponds that were left behind further inland from the tides – a lot of kids were playing in those as they were only an inch or two deep. I don’t have any pictures of those, since I figured with my luck I’d try to take a picture and just end up dropping my telephone into the water… haha.
In the other Scheveningen new, the annual fireworks festival won’t be coming back this year. Why is that you ask? It’s actually too popular! No, seriously – the event was attracting around 400,000 people for four days total (across two weekends) and the beach just wasn’t large enough to support that. Most of the problems came after the event ended, since everyone wanted to go home at the same time.
This DHC article from last year has a great overhead photo showing you just how crowded it was trying to get home with public transportation after the event ended. Although HTM (the public transportation company) did say the buses were not riding at that moment and were being used as a buffer to prevent people from climbing over the fences leading to the stop. You can see the road is clear where the buses would actually be driving. There’s a security guy in yellow standing in the road to keep everyone off it. Additionally, HTM had 71 tram rides that night instead of the normal 31, and 54 bus rides as opposed to the normal 15. Still, the wait for some folks was over 90 minutes even with that extra capacity.
I do hope they can figure something out for next year though. The fireworks festival was a lot of fun, if too crowded for me in the end.
Like everywhere else in the world, The Hague has its own dialect. The comic Haagse Harry exclusively uses this dialect (Dutch Wikipedia). It gives me a bit of a headache to try to read that one, but of course Marco can do it fairly easily.
Last month we spotted this cotton candy truck, written phonetically in the Haags dialect. The actual Dutch is “Genoeg suikerspin voor weinig” or “Enough cotton candy for little” (cheaply). But as you can see, the letters don’t look anything like that!
The Netherlands has been in the grips of a record-setting heat wave this week, with at least five provinces reaching 40C (104F). Due to the fact that The Hague is so close to the North Sea, we didn’t quite reach those temperatures – for us it was more like 36-37C (96-98F).
However, most people don’t have air conditioning in their homes. Why would you, when temperatures like this only happen a few days of the year? Luckily public buildings and work places tend to be at least climate controlled. On days like this it is beneficial to go into work rather than being at home, where the temperatures inside can easily hit 84-86F.
I was pleasantly surprised to see this table outside of LaSalle, a French restaurant here in The Hague city centre:
The sign says ‘Pak maar!’ or ‘Help yourself!’. They even thoughtfully put out a water bowl for pets, either dogs on a leash or neighborhood cats.
You have to understand that water fountains are almost unheard of in this country, both indoor and outdoor. The city and water company Dunea are trying to increase the amount of free water spots in the country, but that takes time.
To see free water on a record setting day – Thursday it was 40.7C (105F) in Gilze en Rijen (GoogleMaps) – is a step in the right direction.
Recently the company I work for met at the Scheveningen beach for the annual summer party. I signed up Marco and myself for the cocktail workshop. Here’s a look at the White Russian that I made:
There were some no-shows at the party, so everyone was able to do another cocktail in the second workshop. In that one, Marco and I made “the Split”, which is named after a Dutch popsicle. That cocktail was with likeur 43, orange juice, yoghurt likeur and ice cubes.
Not far from the Peace Palace you can find a lady sitting on a bench, watching the world go by. And not just any lady, but Anna Pavlovna of Russia, Queen Consort to the Netherlands back in the 18th century. She married Willam the II in 1816 and had five children. If you read the Wikipedia page you’ll notice how odd it is to have a statue here – apparently she wasn’t a fan of the Netherlands and preferred instead to be in what is now Belgium (or better yet, Russia). But okay, the statue itself is still very beautiful.
A bit further along the path you come across the Peace Palace. I had a bit of luck that day in terms of weather – no grey skies that day. (Unlike today!)
“The Fred” or De Fredis a neighborhood in The Hague, a shortening of the street name Frederik Hendriklaan, where the heart of the neighborhood can be found.
Last Monday a new Papa John’s pizza location opened on The Fred. It’s the first one in The Hague, although there are already locations in nearby Delft and Zoetermeer. It’s originally from the United States.
And of course (like what Dunkin’ Donuts does with new locations) the first 100 visitors that day received a free pizza.
I’m actually not much of a fan of Papa John’s pizza, although admittedly I haven’t had any in years. I’m more of a thick pizza/thick crust person. But some of my friends do like it, so to each their own!
A few weeks back I visited the shopping center In de Bogaard in Rijswijk, a city not far from The Hague. Along the way I took a few photographs of whatever caught my eye. Here are two of my favorites:
The last few weeks have seen weather change hour by hour. Last Sunday we had temperatures in the high 80s (F). And there have been days where it rained more often than not, with a few hours where the skies just opened up and rain came pouring down. A few days of high winds, where you wonder if it might just be possible that you blow away.
This building in the image isn’t far from Rijswijk Centraal, the main train station in the city. It’s been underground since 1996.
Fun fact: if you look up the building on Google Maps and then use Street View, some of the images you see are of the completed building whereas some of the images are of the building while it was under construction. Kind of eerie to be able to flip back and forth!
It’s that time of year again! The Rrrollend food truck festival has returned to The Hague. Today was the last day, although they will be back at Lange Voorhout from August 9th to the 11th.
The highlight of this excursion this time around was the rolled up ice cream (Wikipedia), which I have never had before. The food truck was manned by a team out of Rotterdam (Facebook). It is a semi-solid ice cream made of cream, milk and sugar. The trick is that it is placed on a cold surface (chilled to -20 degrees) while it is being worked on. Check out this photo from the Wikipedia page:
Once frozen, you can roll up the ice cream as shown above.
Today was a Holocaust Day of Remembrance in The Hague for the Jewish population. There was a small ceremony held in the city centre in the afternoon to remember those who were lost during WWII.
You can read more about the monument at the official website (nl | en). Also something interesting: some of the flowers came from various embassies, including Germany, Austria, and Israel. Others came from citizens.