Scheveningen

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.

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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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Brooklyn (Or: Burgers and steaks!)

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:

Steak at Brooklyn burgers and steaks, Scheveningen

He approved!

And here’s my apple pie with powdered sugar on top:

Apple pie at Brooklyn burger and steaks, Scheveningen.jpg

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…

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Removing temptation (Or: Bus and tram benches being replaced in The Hague)

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:

Holes in the bus and tram shelter benches in The Hague

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.

HTM remise in Scheveningen.jpg

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.

Categories: Scheveningen, The Hague, Transportation | Tags: , | 2 Comments

A day out in Scheveningen (Or: To the beach!)

This afternoon Marco and I visited Scheveningen and walked along the beach’s boulevard. It was definitely a cold day in February, with lots of wind, but at times the sun shone. They were busy preparing for the opening of the beach season which should happen within a few weeks:

preparing-for-the-opening-of-the-beach-season-2017-scheveningen

Laying down the path in the sand

scheveningen-beach-and-pier-feb-2017

A bit further down the path is already in place – with a gorgeous view of Scheveningen’s pier and the new Ferris wheel. To the left of the wheel is the bungy jumping area.

Marco and I first walked in the other direction, towards the haven. We took a lovely picture of Keizerstraat. Some call this the oldest shopping street in the Netherlands.

looking-at-keizerstraat-from-scheveningen-beach

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Categories: Scheveningen | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Surviving and working together (Or: A day out at Scheveningen)

These photos are actually from Marco, who had a work outing in Scheveningen this past week. The theme was “overleving en samenwerken”, or “Surviving and working together”, which can be complete opposites if you think about it… From what I heard, it was the typical team outing – rope tug of war, get this water from this place to that place using only three bamboo tubes, etc.

The first picture is a look at the art installation “Beelden aan zee” (Images by the sea) (Dutch website | English website). Along with the museum, Beelden aan zee is known for outdoor metal sculptures inspired by fairy tales, a few of which like the one in the photo are very, very tall and make for great photo opportunities. Especially at sunset…

Scheveningen Beelden aan Zee at sunset

And Scheveningen’s latest tour attraction is a ferris wheel partially constructed over the sea on the pier (English news article | Official website in Dutch).

New ferris wheel in Scheveningen

And a close up:

Closeup of new ferris wheel in Scheveningen

It is kind of interesting that I have never set foot on the pier. Well, to be fair it was closed for renovation for a long while. But it’s on the to-do list…

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Tapas at the Mezze (Or: Dinner out in Scheveningen)

Amazingly my birthday celebrations are still going strong a week and a half later! My taalcoach (language coach, Den Haag SamenSpraak) invited Marco and I to dinner at the Mezze, an Arabic/Moroccan tapas bar in Schveningen. It’s actually right next to the Kurhaus, on the side facing away from the beach.

The food was great – we did the all you can eat buffet which meant everyone could choose what they wanted. And go back multiple times for the same item, in my case…  Below is a look at some of my food (bottom plate) and Marco’s food (top plate). A mix of cold and warm items.

Buffet at Mezze Arabische Tapasbar

Quite simple but the thing I kept going back for was the soup and bread. Did I ever mention I love bread? Yum. Actually, in the picture above you also see the bread (the slightly darker pieces on the plate itself) – it’s just been cooked for another day and is much crispier. I prefer the softer bread at the far right above or in the picture below, though.

Soup at Mezze Arabische Tapasbar

The area where we ate was in the glass enclosed terrace. Even though it was a cold day outside, it was warm enough inside, thanks to a healthy fire in the middle of the table.

Rocks and fire at Mezze Arabische Tapasbar

The restaurant also has belly dancers on the weekends. I didn’t get a picture of it, but she had a very pretty navel piercing – a blue jewel.

Dancer at Mezze Arabische Tapasbar

And because I just like colorful plates, here’s a look at the choices for the soup bowls. One of these does not belong…

Bowls at Mezze Arabische Tapasbar

Afterwards we had dessert and coffee back at their house. Check out the desserts! Of course I went for the chocolate one. 🙂

Dessert cakes

But check out the design at the bottom of this one. Very cool!

Dessert cake

Categories: Food, Friends&Family, Scheveningen | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Random photos (Or: Around The Hague and Scheveningen)

I decided it might be fun to show off some of my more random photos that didn’t end up getting their own blog post.

Disney Descendants advertisement in The Hague

By the tram stop – an advertisement for Disney’s Descendants

What caught my eye was the use of the shadow on the ground to “extend” the advertisement onto the ground.

Hema Make & Bake cookies

Make & Bake cookie jars at Hema

Anyone want to bake some cookies? The jar includes all of the ingredients you need, apparently.

Flowers by the Buitenhof in The Hague

Flowers next to Buitenhof

Of course that photo was from a month or two ago – all it has done in the last few weeks is rain, rain, rain.

Kurhaus in Scheveningen

Kurhaus (a hotel) in Scheveningen, on the night of the Fireworks Festival

Until next time!

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Trams and fireworks (Or: Luckily not at the same time)

I seem to be on tram kick lately. Let’s see, some incidents this week:

1. There’s a place in The Hague where you have a pole right next to the tram rails. That is not a problem at all for the tram – obviously the distance was factored in. However, what do Dutch like to do when they see a pole?

You guessed it. Place a bike against it. Or two actually in this case. The tram driver drives really slowly, really carefully, but manages to hit the bike. So that means she has to get up and open the door just to move the bike. (Note: some other guy on his bike riding past got off his bike just to help her move them.)

2. This afternoon a biker wanted to turn right. No problem – the tram also had a curve where it turned right as well. Except there isn’t much space at the side of the road in the curve, and you quickly run into a stack of bikes on the sidewalk. Not much room to manuever. So of course the tram passes the biker and turns right, but the biker keeps going in the turn as well, causing the tram to have to slow down to almost a complete stop. (Last I saw the guy gave up and biked into what little space there was on the sidewalk to get out of the way.)

3. But the craziest – this morning. I was in the tram heading to work and there was a garbage truck on the right side of the road. The tram was again in a turn, this time heading left. I was in the last compartment and had a great view of the garbage truck. I remember thinking “Wow, he’s really close by. But as usual there won’t be an issue.” After the garbage truck passes out of view I hear a loud screeeeeech as the garbage truck’s side mirror slashes against the body of the tram – and then a loud thud as the mirror (I presume) falls to the ground. Eep. The tram didn’t stop, either.

Another story, not quite tram-less:
Last Friday Marco, Roger and I went to the fireworks festival in Scheveningen. It happens over two weekends – Friday and Saturday and Friday and Saturday of the following weekend – and you always have two countries every night “competing” for who has the best fireworks. I left competing in quotes because I have never seen the results of the competition. The night we went was Italy and then The Netherlands.

Fireworks festival in Scheveningen

Waiting on the boulevard for the Italian fireworks to start. You can see the boats with the fireworks in the distance on the water.

At first I thought the Italian fireworks were better… until I saw the Dutch finale! Quite nice. But then we had a lot of trouble getting home. Of course it was a mad house at the tram stop. Waves upon waves of people pushing trying to get into any available tram, and we were too far down the tram stop to get into a tram (three trams went by and still nothing by us, for instance). Eventually we got into bus 23 which at best would take us to the Laan van Nieuw-Oost Indie stop. Not too bad, but still a hike to get back home. The bus was very crowded, though.

Of course, things aren’t that easy. Marco says he now knows why they put a limit on the amount of people allowed in a bus – because ours got a flat tire not too long into the ride. Eek. Luckily this was somewhere near Madurodam’s stop so we were able to hitch a ride on tram 9. There was a tiny, tiny bit of space for us to jump on in the middle of the tram. Of course some guy took offense to me wanting to hold on to the bars in front of the doors (he was standing on the steps by the doors) and so he kept squashing my hand with his butt. My hand was so red afterwards! You’d think he’d realize the presence of a foreign object and not be so rude, but oh well… I chose to keep my mouth shut, so I’m also to blame.

And right now it’s pouring. Ugh. Byebye what little summer we had. 🙂

Wow… I believe that I have angered the rain Gods with that comment. Right after typing it the sky just turned a sickly bright orange. Scary…

Categories: Scheveningen, Transportation | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Tram advertisements (Or: Anyone want to go to Scheveningen?)

As a side note I must say that I am proud to be able to spell Scheveningen without having to look it up. It definitely has to do with the weekly visits to Scheveningen to practice my Dutch with my taalcoach from SamenSpraak.

When riding around in a tram this summer I noticed an advertisement for taking the tram to Scheveningen:

Advertisement for Scheveningen in the tram

The tag line reads: “Have fun at the coast of The Hague”. The two lines underneath say:

  • Strolling on the boulevard and lounging at the beach pavilions
  • Fun events? Look at “Discover it with HTM” at htm.nl (the tram website)

What caught my eye was the verb flaneren. I hadn’t seen it before so I had to look it up. There’s a few different English translations like to stroll, to amble, to saunter – all relaxed way of walking. But the Dutch definition suggests a bit more: lopen om gezien te worden, or walking to be seen.  There is no compact verb to express the two parts together in English (I think). Maybe “to strut” but that isn’t quite the same.

I thought it was pretty cool. Flaneren!

Categories: Scheveningen, The Hague | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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