I told Marco we needed to take this photo and caption it simply “2020”. You can see all the cool stuff off in the distance, but you’re stuck here not able to do any of it.
The statue itself is from the outdoor Beelden aan Zee exhibit (Statues at sea) on the pier. The statues belong to the nearby Beelden aan Zee museum.
But here is a cute tweet to counterbalance the photo above – a mischievous cat.
This cat resides at a police station in a nearby city, Rijswijk. The tweet reads: “As if @Winston_topkat is sometimes waiting. Briefly went to the printer and he’s lying stretched out on my chair.” Winston has his own Twitter feed as well (Winston_topkat).
You will always know these photos were taken in 2020. Okay, I guess 2020-2021 will probably end up being more correct…
The blue eyes make it cute. Don’t miss the mustard squirting of the bottle, or the (easier to miss) ketchup hair curl. This was next to a food vendor on the pier in Scheveningen.
I also spotted a giraffe with a face mask. As you might be able to tell, it is a promotional statue outside of the not yet opened Legoland Discovery Centre. It should be open already but, as the Dutch say, corona heeft roet in het eten gegooid (Literally “Corona threw ash in the food”, or better “Corona threw a spanner in the works”, or most simply “Corona messed it up”).
The sun was already setting as we wandered down the pier. By the time we turned around and headed back to the hotel, the lights on the pier had turned on and it was pretty much dark everywhere. (While we were walking it was cool to see a bit of light left on one side of the sea, with the other half already completely dark.)
I have never booked a hotel room only a few days before it was needed, but here we are in corona times. Marco and I celebrated wanted to go somewhere for our wedding anniversary this weekend. We booked the days off work at least a month ago but I was a bit hesitant about choosing where we would go thanks to the weird times we live in.
Things got a bit stranger on Wednesday, when they announced that new regional corona measures for The Hague (among other cities) would be coming. In the end the new measures were that cafés and restaurants are required to close by 01:00 in the morning and they would only be able to serve a maximum of 50 people (inside or outside) instead of 100. No mandatory face masks outside of public transportation yet. I’m not sure that will ever come in this country.
But! Back to our anniversary. Since things were a bit dicey we decided to stay in the area; we booked a room at the 5 star (!) Kurhaus hotel in nearby Scheveningen. I’m glad Marco persuaded me to go for that one.
The room itself was unexpectedly modern, but still cool. The view at night was awesome:
The room’s window was double-paned, so we didn’t hear anything from the boulevard unless we opened the window. Speaking of the boulevard, we walked up and down it on Friday and Saturday. You could tell there were less people around, although it might have also been because it was no longer the high season for tourists. At least the restaurant owners on the beach don’t have break down everything for the winter (a one-time rule passed earlier this year to help save costs this year, article in Dutch from omroepwest.nl).
On Sunday the beach pavilions in Scheveningen told The Hague government that they were going to open more facilities on Wednesday, earlier than the planned 1 June opening date set by the Dutch government. They want to rent out beach chairs and open up the toilet facilities.
And why do they want to open on Wednesday? Because Thursday is a holiday with a great weather forecast (26C or 79F). And why do they need to do so? Because the beach pavilions are bleeding money and say they won’t survive if they don’t open early (article in Dutch). They said they would all open up and if the government didn’t like it they would need to fine all 70 pavilions. Of course, fines range anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 euros…
The answer arrived from The Hague city government later on Monday: no, you cannot open early (article in Dutch). Like other restaurants in the country, you can only be open for takeaway at the moment. The Hague government also mentioned that it wouldn’t be fair to the city centre if the beach could open their terraces early and the city centre could not. That article also mentions a point of contention that the pavilions in Scheveningen have – other beaches do have more freedom to open more of their services, even though they are under the same rules as the rest of the country. The problem is that Scheveningen falls under a different public safety region than the other beaches do, and the other region has chosen to interpret the execution of the rules differently.
Personally, I think part of the problem that The Hague is trying to avoid is the obvious overcrowding of the beach area, but also overcrowding in the public transportation system. HTM (the regional bus and tram service) isn’t required to run their full transportation schedules until 1 June, the same day that face masks will also be required within public transportation due to the expected increase of travelers. I think people are starving for a bit of sun and any good weather they can find, and if they hear that the beaches are providing more services this week they will flock to them en masse.
Lastly, there will be another press conference tonight over the expected rules coming on 1 June, and I do expect them to stipulate that terraces and restaurants cannot open before 12:00 on 1 June, to prevent what happened with hair dresses here in the Netherlands as well as other countries: a lot of hair dressers opened at midnight. Can you imagine if all of the restaurants in The Hague tried to do the same?
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.
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.
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.
Today’s actually the last day for a while of weather that can be labeled “very good” for a while, with temperatures around 94F here in The Hague. We should also be getting a bit of rain tonight, hopefully, although it will do nothing for the drought conditions the country is experiencing.
On a brighter note, Marco and I visited Five Guys for a second time for some burgers and fries. This time I took a picture of the bulletin board where guests can leave reactions:
There are of course a lot of wishes that Five Guys would come to someone’s country. And the ‘best milkshake in town’ paper makes me realized I’ve never had a milkshake at this fast food place. Maybe I should change that at some point…
Marco, Roger and I visited Brooklyn burgers and steaks in Scheveningen a few weeks back. Marco had a Mexican burger and I had a classic burger.
Check out Roger’s New York strip steak:
And here’s my apple pie with powdered sugar on top:
Interesting thing about this apple pie… I actually didn’t want it, but I got tripped up with my Dutch. I wanted to say “bakje koffie” (small cup of coffee) but instead said “gebakje koffie”. Gebak is the word for dessert/pastry. Since Marco and Roger had both ordered apple pie and coffee before me, that’s what she thought I wanted. Opps. It was good though! I just had to make room…
Back in March 2015 The Hague replaced the shelters at bus and tram stops. The best part of the new design in my opinion was the much prettier glass on the sides and top. The design also included new benches which have since become an issue for curious kids. Have a look and see if you can guess what the issue is:
Yep. The holes (which are used to drain off rainwater) are just the right size for a curious kid to stick their finger in. It took around a year (August 2016) for the first curious kid to get a few fingers stuck in the bench but after that the incidents just kept coming this year. With the first child they decided to administer anesthesia on the spot and cut out the bench around the finger, but since then they have removed an entire section of the bench and transported the child to the hospital (with part of the bench still around his finger) to remove it there.
Last month it was decided that the benches would be replaced using the advertising money the shelter generates, but it was still at a cost of more than half a million. The benches now use slits rather than holes to let the rainwater escape. The replacement of the benches began on May 2nd and will take until mid-July. And guess what happened on May 2nd? Yep, another kid got his fingers caught!
Speaking of trams, a friend and I went to the remise or depot in Scheveningen to see (one of the places) where the trams are stored overnight. This is also where the workers start and end their shifts.
Tram remise in Scheveningen
The tram above is being driven backwards into the remise. There’s a small grey box at the back of these older trams which tram drivers can use to “back the tram in”. That way they are facing the right direction when they need to leave in the morning. It’s only needed for the older types – the two types that have come since then are made to be driven from either direction during normal operation.