Birds and buses (Or: Spotted around town)

This past Wednesday was the Dutch provincial elections and the water board elections (English Wikipedia). Both Marco and I voted (Marco for both; I could only vote for the water board as a non-Dutchie).

While shopping in the city centre that day I noticed a stembus or “voting bus” from the local news website Omroep West at the Grote Markstraat:

The bus was an old diesel bus, and you could definitely smell it.

A few days ago I was in Rijswijk, a neighboring town just outside of The Hague. At the top of a building (about three stories high) I spotted a stork building a nest.

Pretty cool.

And, for a touch of randomness: Starlings put on nightly show above Amsterdam’s Sarphatipark, but poop coats neighborhood from nltimes.nl

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Rijswijk (Or: The evolution of In de Bogaard)

In de Bogaard is a shopping area in Rijswijk, not far from The Hague. Although I keep forgetting that the name changed from In de Bogaard to Bogaard stadscentrum (Bogaard city centre) last year. See also the Dutch Wikipedia page. It will always be In de Bogaard for me, much like Disneyland Paris is always Euro Disney to me, even though the name changed years before. Actually before I moved to the Netherlands, but Marco and I always used Euro Disney so the name stuck in my mind.

On that note, all the best to my parents who will be visiting Mickey in Florida in the near future. Have fun!

But I digress. The shopping centre in Rijswijk was in desperate need of a pick-me-up. Does anyone remember the green fountain water back in 2012? I do, and I have photographic proof. Yuck. These days that area has lovely landscaping and parks for kids to play in (see below). There’s a dedicated bike path cutting through the plaza, too. Not that I bike, but it always good to know where not to walk so I don’t get run over. That is important in this country.

The shopping area is behind and to the left; this photo looks away from it. But the new fountain isn’t green. The running water helps of course.

Here is one of the shopping streets. I thought it was amusing to look up and see umbrellas as decoration, considering it hadn’t rained for most of the summer. We’ve gotten a decent amount of rain this past week, though.

There are lots of plans for this area in the future. For example some of the shopping areas will be demolished to make room for housing and “green” areas like parks for residents. You can read more at the official website (in Dutch).

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A bit of green in the city (Or: Park in Rijswijk)

Rijswijk is a small town not far from The Hague, 15 minutes by tram. It is also where I got my first two corona vaccinations last summer. I visited again yesterday, taking a walk through a small park not far from the Rijswijk Central train station. That way I could enjoy the sunshine a bit more. Here are some of the photos I took:

Who needs a net for the basketball hoop? The train station (English Wikipedia) is in the background. Well, the glass pyramids are visible, anyway. The tracks themselves are underground.

I don’t think you are supposed to walk under the vines above, but considering there is a small dirt path there it looks like some people have tried. It is an interesting piece of nature, that’s for sure.

A handful of birdhouses (on the pole) with residential housing behind.

An area with outdoor seating – there is similar seating around other edges of the circle, making this a good place to hold a performance or poetry slam.

It is an interesting park; a bit bare at times, but that quality helps it look more natural.

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Fully vaccinated (Or: Yay!)

I am now fully vaccinated. I received my second shot (Pfizer) this afternoon. The location was less busy than when I received my first vaccination on 21 June, but that week the Netherlands vaccinated just under 1.5 million people and this week there are around 1 million appointments. I think the main difference is that there are less people getting their first shot and more getting their second, but vaccine deliveries could also be playing a small part.

We still have at least 3-4 weeks to go at this rate, if you consider that the Netherlands opened vaccinations to the general population based on birth year. I’m 38, so there’s still at least 20 years behind me waiting for their second shot. If you also consider that vaccinations were only recently opened to 12-17 year olds, you could imagine this going on for another 2-3 months at a reduced rate.

Above is the sign by the vaccination location, the Broodfabriek in Rijswijk. Literally translated as “the bread factory”, which it used to be years ago. In recent years it is an event center and this year it is rented out to The Hague’s Public Health department for the vaccination program.

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That’s useful (Or: Store map of Blokker in Rijswijk)

I saw something cool in Rijswijk’s In de Bogaard shopping centre: a Blokker store with a map by the entrance:

The map makes it easier to see where you need to go before you enter the store so that you don’t mindlessly wander up and down the aisles (and up and down again, seriously) trying to find what you are looking for. And the store map goes perfectly with one of their corona measures: Koop doelgericht or “Buy purposefully”. In other words, know what you want (when possible), get in, get out. Kudos. More stores should have maps at the entrance and/or provide them online.

So Blokker is pretty smart. For a less than smart company, try the Samen restaurant in The Hague. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. For the last few months the rule in the Netherlands has been that up to 100 people could gather inside or outside, including restaurants. But since it is going in the wrong direction (we’re up to 3,000 cases per day now, from nltimes.nl) a lot of places are only allowed to have 50 people inside or outside. Including The Hague. And then you get this…

Crowded Hague restaurant busted with 200 guests; Covid rules allow only 50 from nltimes.nl. (nos.nl reported that it was 200-300 guests.)

While most of the blame must lie with the restaurant, I think people must be mathematically challenged if they don’t turn around when they see the actual restaurant area and demand their money back. I’m trying to give some people the benefit of the doubt, since if you came early it probably wasn’t that busy… but really, people. Come on.

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Field outside of Rijswijk Station (Or: Okay, it’s tiny)

Here’s an interesting photo from just outside of Rijswijk train station. I’m not entirely sure what the wooden columns are supposed to represent, but hey, it’s a bit of green. With a church steeple in the background. But it’s tiny – even Google Maps doesn’t mark this area as green to represent a park.

In other news:

  • As you might know, the football European championships are delayed until 2021. The Dutch TV show Even tot hier had a short skit about the players being replaced this year by dogs for the EK hondenvoetbal (from Youtube, 2 and a half minutes long). Even if you don’t speak Dutch, it’s still a cute video because you get to watch dogs!
  • Dutch sign up to Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine from dutchnews.nl. The Netherlands (and Germany, Italy and France) have signed up to purchase up to 400 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine from Oxford University. Of course, there’s no guarantee that this particular vaccine will work, but the thinking is that it’s better safe than sorry later. Other countries are welcome to join the group.
  • No summer holiday? Councillors propose ‘wild swimming’ in the river from dutchnews.nl. Yeah… no thanks.
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It’s trying to be summer in Rijswijk (Or: Ever-changing weather)

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:

Red roses… but can you spot the ladybug on the leaf?

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.

LIMOR social services building in Rijswijk

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!

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Turned upside down (Or: Carnival in Rijswijk, the Netherlands)

A few weeks ago, I met up with Marco in Rijswijk to check out the carnival that was in town (for a few days around March 21ish). We were using a free “pass” we received in the mail from HTM, one of The Hague’s public transportation providers. Once you activate it (at the front of the bus or tram) you can travel for free (for that one day) on HTM buses or trams in the city, or similar. Unlimited trips and transfers.

Of course, Marco’s ddn’t scan properly, but we ended up having no further problems. The bus driver wrote the date on it, but that wasn’t that much proof. (If you get caught without paying the fare for the tram or bus, you get a fine of at least a few hundred euros, I believe. So always best to be careful.)

We also ended up going to Zoetermeer, which is an area just outside of The Hague – but in the opposite direction

Here are some pictures from the carnival…

2013 carnival in Rijswijk NL

Overview of the carnival from above.

carnival ride in Rijswijk NL

The crazy high flying ride. It was possible to flip your cage as well, if you were (un)lucky. The group we saw as we were leaving was doing that.

kiddie coaster at a carnival in Rijswijk NL

Kiddie coaster. Actually slightly intricate, with the two different levels. Anytime I see coasters like this, I am reminded of a small black dragon one that I went on when I was pretty tiny. It was even simpler than this I think – just one level high, about 6-7 feet tall. I remember screaming for mom a bit when I went over that (now so tiny) hill. ;P

Skiball at a carnival in Rijswijk NL

Skeeball! In the Netherlands. Marco was a bit surprised to see this, although he said he hadn’t been to carnivals in some years. (YouTube video – note the different point totals for each hole. The “bucket” section at the bottom gets you the least points. That’s the one where most of the balls fall just because you missed hitting the higher holes.)

car carousel in a carnival in Rijswijk NL

A car carousel of sorts. Note the kid wearing a coat. It was windy!

ride at a carnival in Rijswijk NL

And finally, we have a ride to spin you around some. Needs more Tilt-A-Whirl! (YouTube video – note: there is a wheel in the middle. The faster you turn it, the faster the entire compartment spins around the edges. That’s why some whip around faster than others.)

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Swings (Or: Is Central Park safe at night?)

From Marco…

Every now and then I pass a set of swings on the way to work.
I’m reluctant to call it a playground despite that there’s also one of those sort of rocking horses next to it. It’s really nothing more than these swings and that horsey. No grass or anything, just some sort of rubber padding.
But I guess it’s better then nothing.

Niki asked me the other day to be on the look out for picture ops.. So today when I walked past the swings I decided to take a snapshot and share this fun story: Back in 2009 when I was vacationing at Niki’s place, we went to New York (as we often do *grin*)

We ended up at Central Park, entering from Columbus Circle (for those in the know). As we entered this young woman approached us and asked if the park was open at night for joggers. I was somewhat speechless to hear that question. Not something you’d expect her to ask. The park is a large place, I don’t think you want to be running around in it at night by yourself.
Now for some reason I remembered seeing a sign saying it closed at some point of the evening, only allowing people on the main roads. So we sent her off with that knowledge.

Niki and I proceeded into the park itself. It had just rained so that nice smell of wet grass and trees was everywhere. We walked past a playground and Niki wanted to go on the swings! 🙂 Since it had just rained and it was already around 7pm there weren’t any kids there at that moment. So I just sat on the swings (gotta stay cool) while she actually erhmm..well…swung I guess the word would be.
She did warn me that she had to be careful to not do that for too long or she might get sick. And sure, at some point she suddenly stopped before it was too late. It was a very random but fun few minutes there on those swings. A very good memory. It actually reminds me of another story from the same trip but I’m going to have to keep that one for another time.
A hint: It involves bugs.

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In motion (Or: Spinning art in Rijswijk)

Marco was able to get some good pictures of a curious looking art installation which was placed in Rijswijk near the Hoogvliet supermarket. I have included both pictures so you can see the motion of both the skaters and of the small ledges they stand on.

I really have no idea what the art is supposed to symbolize. Maybe it hypnotizes the viewers so that when they enter Hoogvliet they buy more…

Happy Friday, everyone!

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