Foto’s

One big advertisement (Or: Disney+ in The Hague’s city centre)

As most big cities know, construction never ends. At the moment a building not far from the Binnenhof is getting work on done on its facade. (Right in that area is an Albert Heijn. You can just see the blue flags marking the entrance. Good luck getting around in that area to get inside.)

But where construction is, companies see opportunities:

A huge Disney+ advertisement spanning the entire building. At least it looks less unsightly than seeing bare scaffolding!

In other news:

  • The fireworks festival that is held in Scheveningen every year will be changed slightly this year, with fireworks being set off at four different locations along the coastline. You can read about it at denhaagfm.nl in Dutch. The fireworks would be set off at Zwarte Pad, the Pier, by the Keizerstraat and by the Pier. This should hopefully help spread the crowds out, a boon for restaurants in the area, although it will do nothing to solve the issues with public transportation (2018 article at denhaagcentraal.nl – check out the photo).
  • The pier in Scheveningen either needs to be completely replaced or repaired before 2025 (omroepwest.nl in Dutch). There are safety issues with the construction with the concrete under the pier and the floor. At the moment it seems that the most likely option is that the pier will be replaced, as repairing would actually cost more money.
Pier in 2017 (with the beach tents removed for the winter)
Inside the pier in 2017. My opinion: very narrow and very crowded.
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The Hague Info Store (Or: New store at The Hague Central)

A few months back the tourist information store (denhaag.com in English) moved from the ground floor of The Hague public library’s main branch to The Hague Central train station.

The tourist office now goes by the name “The Hague Info Store”. Oddly enough, they do also use (THIS) as an official acronym which I find a bit silly.

You can find the store around the corner from the playable piano. (Who knew there is a website which tracks publicly playable pianos throughout the world? See also pianos.pub/location/netherlands.)

They have a few Lego-like sets under the brand “Brickworld designs”.

The Hague specific souvenirs…

Dutch souvenirs.

You can also have a look at their webshop (souvenirdenhaag.nl, available in Dutch).

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Lockdown measures relaxed (Or: Let’s all go to the lobby?)

The Netherlands relaxed some of their lockdown measures last night, with restaurants, cafés, movie theatres, museums, zoos and more allowed to be open again from 05:00 to 22:00. Stores are also now open until 22:00 (during the last lockdown they needed to close at 17:00).

As you can expect the latest relaxation of measures led to a huge demand for tickets to the latest Spiderman film (which only ran for three days here in The Netherlands before the lockdown started last month). Right after last night’s press conference (or perhaps while it was still going on) people flooded Pathé‘s website to order tickets. The virtual queue was over an hour long (!).

List of lockdown changes at the Dutch government’s website in English.

Above: a random photo of De Passage, a covered shopping area and also an important passage to get from point A to B. Usually it is crowded, so I always feel lucky to get a photo of it with no one else in the shot (this time I lucked out because it was fairly early in the morning and the stores hadn’t opened yet).

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In the mist (Or: Grote Marktstraat with opened shops)

Here is a look at the Grote Marktstraat in The Hague’s city centre:

Off in the distance you can see a bit of mist. It was a bit cold, but not raining for once. Today was the first day that non-essentials shops are allowed to be open again, until 17:00. Corona cases are on the rise (the average is now around 31,000 cases a day) but hospitalizations seem to be okay for the moment. We will see.

Unfortunately restaurants and cafés will have to wait just a bit longer; they are still only open for takeout and delivery. The government said they would review the decision in about 10 days.

I did take advantage of the shops being open to buy the most boring stuff ever from Blokker – dish towels and descaler for the coffee machine. Quite boring indeed.

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Rainbows and boosters (Or: World Forum in The Hague)

I received my booster shot earlier this morning. I feel pretty good, just a pretty sore arm and what feels like a light cold.

The appointment was by the World Forum (official website) in The Hague, a conference center. Apparently the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte also got his booster shot at the World Forum last week Thursday. The linked article is from ad.nl in Dutch but there are a few pictures to show you what the inside looked like. It was a different location than my first two vaccinations; those were at the Broodfabriek in Rijswijk (literally “bread factory” in English, although it was converted to an event hall years ago).

The location was fairly similar in setup to the Broodfabriek in Rijswijk. The main difference is that two people wait in the same area to get their vaccination; you can kind of see that in the first photo in the ad.nl article, although there the second chair is empty. This is useful because one person is getting their vaccination while the second person sits down, removes their coat, pulls up their sleeve, etc. And so the process repeats. All of this is done to try and get boosters administered as fast as possible (The Netherlands started late compared to other European countries so they have had to play catchup.)

Here is another example of more efficient methods: if you go to the Broodfabriek now for your booster, you receive a designated chair to sit at. The person giving the vaccination has a cart and they wheel the vaccinations to each person in the row (i.e. the person giving the vaccination moves around while the people receiving it stay put). This can be important in the case of The Netherlands as the health ministry recommended that everyone wait for 15 minutes after getting their vaccination before they leave. Not everyone does, of course, but it does make it a bit more efficient and limit movement. In my case at the World Forum I needed to move to a separate area called the “recovery area” before I could leave, so that is additional movement that the Broodfabriek doesn’t have with their setup.

Bonus: I got to see a rainbow on my way out.

The World Forum is behind me and not pictured. To the left is actually Europol, the European law enforcement agency. You can just make out the high fence on the left and the many obstacles alongside the road to prevent someone driving a car into this area.

Have a great weekend everyone. I am definitely looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow morning!

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Mauritshuis museum (Or: Christmas trees)

Marco took a photo of the Christmas tree in front of the Mauritshuis museum here in The Hague (official website in English). Since we are in a lockdown again, the museum is promoting their virtual museum, aptly called the Gigapixel museum. The museum is most known for having Vermeer’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring on display. Aka room 15, floor 2, in the lower right corner of the Gigapixel museum.

Here’s hoping for a quick reopening in 2022!

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Christmas tree in De Passage (Or: 2021 edition)

It must be December because the Christmas tree is back in De Passage! (aka The Passage, a covered shopping area in the city centre of The Hague).

The cool thing about De Passage is that is more of a triangle shaped hallway. As you can see above the tree is placed at the intersection of those three parts, so it is always visible when you enter.

Oh, and a few months back they did remove the greenery which was separating the walkway in De Passage (corona measures). Though I wouldn’t be surprised if it came back. Yesterday one of the local Albert Heijn supermarkets had a security guard posted outside the entrance checking that everyone was wearing a facemark and this evening a local Jumbo supermarket had a line of about 15 people waiting to get in, probably because they started putting a limit on the number of people who could be inside at the same time. I haven’t seen those measures since the first half of 2020.

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Lots of alarms going off (Or: Testing the emergency system)

Every first Monday of the month at 12:00, the test system goes off here in The Netherlands. It uses an air raid siren which always reminds me of my childhood. Why, do you ask?

The air raid siren sound that is used is the same sound that was used back in Chicago where I grew up. But there it was the tornado siren, warning of impending doom. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but not by much. You don’t ignore tornado sirens in the midwest of the United States.

But the last decade has brought a new sound into the mix during the first Monday of the month at 12:00 — your phone also bleats out a shrill sound about 4 or 5 times. The warning system is called “NL Alert” (crisis.nl in English). “Luckily” the telephones are only tested twice a year, in June and December. Now imagine my phone making that sound, and Marco’s phone, and Marco’s work phone… All. at. the. same. time. BEEEEEEEEEEP!

Oh, and the air siren was still going on outside.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a very useful system. It was credited for helping save lives during the flooding in July of this year in the southeastern part of The Netherlands. It is also used locally if there is a large fire and nearby residents need to close their windows, etc. It it just so loud at times! And it makes me think there is a tornado coming…

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Christmas lights at the Bijenkorf (Or: 2021 edition)

Here is a look at the outdoor decorations at Bijenkorf here in The Hague (Bijenkorf is a high-end retail store). These lights and decorations go up every year. Actually the lights were already up when Marco and returned from the United States back in late October, although the window displays weren’t ready for a few more weeks.

The lights:

And here is a look at some of the window displays. They change every year and usually draw a crowd (though less of a crowd this year and last year, of course).

It is hard to believe that it is almost December…

In the meantime, the current corona wave is still going strong, with intensive care units filling up. There was another press conference tonight, a week earlier than originally planned. Here is a look at the measures that go into effect Sunday morning, in English at government.nl.

There was another “noise” demonstration near Central Station this evening; the press conference is held in that area so the people outside try to make as much noise as possible to get heard on television. See also some images at regio.15 (text in Dutch). There were some pretty grim demonstrations last week so this time the military was present instead of the police. This demonstration went rather peacefully though, especially in comparison to the riots last week in Rotterdam (theguardian.com).

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New mural by the Eat Company (Or: Apparently it wasn’t the end after all)

A few months ago I wrote a blog post about the mural by the Eat Company being painted over, after 5 years of sitting stuck in the “fall” theme. At the time it seemed like the end of an era.

A work colleague sent a tip last week that a new mural had unexpectedly appeared recently:

Although I do need to take a closer look during the day – it looks more like a giant (weatherproof) sticker than a painted mural. The texture is really nice, though.

(The stork shows up in a lot of imagery around The Hague; it is part of the official coat of arms – see also English Wikipedia.)

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