Today I took a walk in the area of Buitenhof and Plaats (English Wikipedia and Dutch Wikipedia, respectively). The city is currently in the middle of a two year redesign of the “Plaats” area (which literally translates to “Place”).
I must admit I was slightly confused by new stone walkway area extending from the pedestrian area into the road (and bike path):
It’s a bit hard to see with the wet stone, but the entire area is now the same height, with the road and bike path disappearing. Here is a look from a bit further away:
But that is the city’s plan for the area. The official page which mentions the work that is going on and how long it lasts (denhaag.nl, in Dutch) states: “Hiervoor wordt het straatniveau overal gelijkgemaakt en […] de route langs de Hofvijver blijft wel te gebruiken voor taxi’s en bestemmingsverkeer (bijvoorbeeld om winkels te bevoorraden, parkeergarages te bereiken of te laden en te lossen).” Or, in English: The street will be made the same height in all places and the street pictured above will only be opened to taxis or local traffic (to supply stores, to reach parking garages or to unload or load supplies).”
Therefore at some point there will be fewer cars in the area so it will be less of an issue. But it looks a bit weird at the moment.
However, why do they have to use stones that don’t dry as quickly? You can see the difference in the second photo, with the old stones already drying after the latest rainfall (which makes them less slippery).
It will be interesting to see how it looks once the construction finally finishes later this spring.
Some kind soul created a memorial to Chuck Deely outside the Albert Heijn on the Grote Marktstraat:
Chuck Deely (Dutch Wikipedia) was an American street musician that was active in The Hague from the ’90s until his death on January 2017. I can’t believe it has been four years! There will never be anyone like him again.
He has been honored a few ways since his death, including a statue by Central Station:
The first thing I noticed was the blue wings of the bird, but the face at the top is just as stunning honestly. It never stops amazing me how graffiti (and poetry) just randomly appears in this city. Here’s some owl graffiti Marco and I found last year and here is a corona-related poem that appeared in the same area as Bristol last year.
This morning also saw a milestone in the Netherlands: First person in the Netherlands vaccinated against Covid-19 at 8:43 a.m. from nltimes.nl. The recipient was a 39-year old nursing home worker who works in Veghel, a town in the southern part of the Netherlands. Veghel was also where the first registered case of coronavirus was found last year, so the choice of where to administer the first vaccination is also symbolic.
As mentioned earlier, fireworks are banned this year to try and keep the number of hospital visits down. And this is not without good reason: Dozens of hospitals struggling to provide urgent care (from nltimes.nl). Part of the problem is that more and more health workers are out sick during this wave.
But – The Hague is currently breaking records for the most fireworks turned in! Since you can’t purchase fireworks this year, and you aren’t allowed to legally store it anywhere, a lot of Dutch cities came up with the idea of a few days where citizens could safely turn in their fireworks – even the highly illegal kind – without fear of punishment. At the end of the second day, 600 kilo (1,322 pounds) had been turned in. Ruim 600 kilo vuurwerk ingeleverd bij inzamelactie in Den Haag (nos.nl, article in Dutch).
Above: fireworks from last year.
Random news: I read on indebuurt.nl that a new donut shop was closing before I even got a chance to try it: Deze zaken in Den Haag gaan niet meer open in het nieuwe jaar (article in Dutch). It’s on page 8 of the article. The name was Daddy Donuts Churros Cartel. Donuts and churros – what more could you ask for, really?
Finally, if you have no idea what to do today you can check out Goodbye 2020, a free online streaming event that will last from tomorrow afternoon through the night, with about 40 Dutch artists. Free online festival to entertain youth on New Year’s Eve, from nltimes.nl. The Dutch government donated 1 million euros to the cause with the hopes of keeping youth off the streets tomorrow night, and instead at home watching the various streams. We’ll see if it works. (However, I’m not entirely sure if you can access the streams from outside the Netherlands.)
Take a look at the Christmas lights at the Grote Markt (denhaag.com in English). Grote Markt is usually a popular bar/club hangout with an active nightlife. Things are of course pretty quiet these days, although the restaurants are still open for takeout or delivery.
The church tower in the background is the Grote Kerk (Wikipedia).
I also took a different shot to try and avoid the trucks on the right side. The bonus of the second shot was that it showed off the Haagse Harry statue:
I was able to get a few photos of the Mauritshuis museum during a short walk this week. What do you think of the Christmas tree?
Mauritshuis is most known for Vermeer’s The Girl with a Pearl Earring. You can see a homage to this behind the right pillar in the image – but it is not exactly the painting, either. It is a digital display where the head and outfit change slightly every few seconds.
As you can see above, now the photo is of someone else with a blue cap instead of a headscarf.
You can also visit the museum virtually via this link (it is like Google Map’s Street View).
Page 1: a face mask with The Hague’s yellow and green colors. Page 2: a face mask with a The Girl with a Pearl Earring design. Page 3: a face mask from Museon, a science and culture museum in The Hague. Page 4: a face mask from HTM, The Hague’s public transportation company. Page 5: a face mask from a local soccer club. Page 6: a face mask with a depiction of Haagse Harry. Page 7: no idea, really.
Anderhalvemetersamenleving or 1-and-a-half-meters-society is Van Dale’s word of the year for 2020 (article from dutchnews.nl). Van Dale is a Dutch dictionary company. Anderhalvemetersamenleving took 30% of the vote, with 12,000 votes cast.
Here are a few interesting articles about the lockdown that are available in Dutch from nos.nl:
Hoe een telefoontje van Van Dissel alles veranderde – How a phone call from Van Dissel [Dutch virologist] changed everything. It’s an article about how we went from the press conference on the 8th to the hard lockdown announced last night. That’s less then a week if you are counting.
Above is a picture taken in De Passage (a covered shopping area) in The Hague last weekend. I thought it was cute to see the stockings hiding behind the windows on the second floor, which isn’t accessible to shoppers.
Check out this Christmas tree which I saw by the Plein in The Hague:
It’s a cute Christmas tree, but I will admit it looks like someone had a bit too much fun with strips of toilet paper at the bottom. I assume it is actually tinsel, though.
I saw an even more creative Christmas tree over on the r/thenetherlands Reddit page:
(Alternative Christmas tree in Maastricht at the “Our Lady plaza”.) Those are café/restaurant chairs. Since the cafés and restaurants are only open for takeout or delivery these days, why not re-use them (or store them) as a Christmas tree? The best part: In the back on the left of the photo you see the hint of another Christmas tree.
The last few days have seen the number of coronavirus cases skyrocket. We’re now back to around 10,000 cases a day. There was an emergency meeting of the safety regions and the government today, with a few additional meetings tomorrow. It is unclear if they will hold a press conference this coming Tuesday or if they will hold it tomorrow, one day earlier than they usually would (press conferences generally happen on Tuesdays).
There are a few measures that could be taken:
closure of ‘through’ or ‘transfer’ locations where a lot of people meet, for example libraries, movie theatres, zoos, cinemas, etc.
closure of all not-essential stores (everything except supermarkets, pharmacies, etc.)
closing of schools
Of these I think either the first two are more likely. Interestingly the Netherlands actually did not close essential stores during the first wave back in March / April. It was always the store’s choice to close or not. However, Germany has also announced a hard lockdown that will last through 10 January so some are speculating that German tourists will travel across the border to do their Christmas shopping here unless we also go into a hard lockdown as well.
Kudos to The Hague for putting temporary public toilets on the Grote Markt. The most shocking of all: I didn’t see any signs that you had to pay, which would be quite normal in the Netherlands. Generally the only free bathrooms are found in restaurants or cafés.
Normally these barriers would be used for the Royal Christmas Fair. However, the fair was cancelled so the barriers could be put to a different use. And public toilets are very important right now. At the moment restaurants and cafés are only allowed to be open for takeout or delivery, so there not many public toilets available to shoppers at the moment.
I also saw some toilets by the plaza outside the Tweede Kamer parliamentary building, so it is not just on the Grote Markt. (Oh, and for American readers: yes, that’s TJ Maxx in the background. However in Europe the company goes by the name TK Maxx.)
Above is a tweet from the Scheveningen police, wishing everyone a nice Sinterklaas evening. Everyone opens their presents from Sinterklaas on the evening of December 5, aka last night.