Scheveningen

Summer heat (Or: The Netherlands begins to sizzle)

Not wanting to be left out of the heat wave that has been occurring across southern Europe for more than a week, The Netherlands joined the fun yesterday and today, with temperatures here in The Hague around 31C/87F yesterday and temperatures today around 37C/99F. Technically that is nothing compared to what the rest of Europe has been going through, or what other parts of the world have been going through, but still.

I went to work this morning as usual (climate controlled office for the win), and it wasn’t too bad at that point. But on the way back…oh my. I felt like I had been smashed against a wall of heat, as if someone had thrown a heavy blanket around all of my being. Still, as long as you find the shade where you can it works out.

Speaking of finding shade…

As you can see, a lot of people went to the beach in Scheveningen. A smart choice, but if you’re smart you either need to bring an umbrella… or you find a spot directly under the pier for shade. Although then you have to wonder what is the point of going to the beach just to sit under the pier, but to each their own.

Luckily the temperatures will drop again tomorrow, so it really was a mini heat wave. Check out some other photos of Scheveningen over at indebuurt.nl (in Dutch, but scroll down for the photos).

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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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Despairing statues (Or: Beelden aan Zee, Scheveningen)

…2020 in a nutshell

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).

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Face masks of Scheveningen (Or: Giraffes and hot dogs)

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”).

Bummer. But if you’re an adult without a child, don’t get your hopes up too much anyway. They’ve already said the exhibitions are intended for children; adults on their own aren’t welcome (omroepwest.nl). But they do plan on hosting adult-only nights – at some point.

And, here’s a sunset for you:

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.)

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Grand hotel Amrâth Kurhaus (Or: 20 minutes from home)

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.

View of the hotel from the pier

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).

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Controversies brewing in Scheveningen (Or: Beach pavilions want to open early)

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.

Scheveningen at sunset

One thing this controversy did cause: the Dutch government reminded everyone that cafés and terraces should not open before 1 June (article in Dutch).

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?

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A lovely day for the beach (Or: For herring?)

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.

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At the beach (Or: Cocktail workshops)

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:

I made that! 🙂 Love the layers.

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.

But nothing beats my White Russian!

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A sea of fire (Or: An age-old war gets out of hand)

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.

Bonfire for New Years 2015-2016. Credit: Guinness World Records

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.

Credit Regio15.nl, Ruben van Essen. Original article, with more photos and videos

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.

In the aftermath, the organizer said that this might just be the last bonfire Scheveningen hosts (and almost definitely the last bonfire he would organize), but time will tell. The mayor did say that The Hague needed to look into whether this one would be the last one after the clean up was complete.

On a happier note, the Scheveningen beach was also the site of the New Year’s Dive this morning. I was smart and just watched it on TV – that’s enough for me!

Edited to add (2 January 2019): Omroep West has written a news article about why canceling the bonfire was not an option, due to intimidation and threats.

Categories: Culture, Holidays, Scheveningen | Tags: , | 4 Comments

A summer’s day (Or: Scheveningen is crowded)

One of the Dutch news sites NU.nl was featuring a video of the crowded beaches at Scheveningen, taken from a helicopter.

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:

Five Guys bulletin board in The Hague, Aug 2018

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…

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