The Hague

Fun in the snow (Or: Storm Darcy arrives in the Netherlands)

Marco and I went for a walk around lunchtime today to take a few pictures of the snow that fell. It was fairly cold, but that was mostly restricted to my fingertips.

First a picture of a very cold Hofvijfer. There were actually about 10-15 birds in this part of the water, although it is pretty difficult to see.

I didn’t even see the bird flying above when I was taking the picture. My only thought was of my freezing hands and wondering how fast I could take the picture and put my gloves back on.

Lange Voorhout. Off in the distance (and almost impossible to see) is the Escher museum (official website in English). Did you know it is possible to take a virtual tour of the museum? I found it pretty interesting, even if I felt like I had to move the mouse in the “wrong” direction to move around. Note: I’m not sure if they will keep the virtual tour up after the museum opens its doors again, so don’t wait too long.

Look at the snow on this car on the Lange Voorhout – you can see how hard the wind was blowing.

Handhaving grijpt in vanwege drukte tijdens sneeuwpret from regio15.nl in Dutch. In English: Security intervenes due to overcrowding during “snow fun”. The University of Delft’s library is built into a hillside, which means their roof is basically a grassy hill. They said it was okay to snow down the hill (provided no one uses sharp objects which might damage the roof underneath), but of course that meant massive crowds arrived by the afternoon. It is a very cool library design; I’ve been inside once.

Code Orange weather warning issued for Monday; Expect school closures, roadway problems from nltimes.nl. Code orange is a step lower than today’s code red, so there is some improvement. Monday should have been the first day that primary schools were allowed to re-open in the Netherlands, but the weather has definitely thrown a curveball in that regard.

Opps. Tram 16 derailed earlier this morning. Admittedly HTM (The Hague’s bus and tram provider) is still trying to ride most of their routes, with an adjusted schedule. NS, the national train service, said no trains would run today. Amsterdam’s buses and trams were running this morning but have since stopped. Amsterdam’s metro held out a bit longer, until earlier this evening, before that was stopped as well.

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We miss you (Or: Hema and sculptures)

I noticed a “We miss you” sign at Hema (English Wikipedia) recently and decided to snap a quick picture:

“We missen je” = “We miss you”

Non-essential stores are still closed in the Netherlands, although click-and-collect options will be available from 10 February (see my previous blog post).

In other news, for those of us in The Hague: the yearly sculpture event will be returning to the Lange Voorhout this summer! (Official link from pulchri.nl in Dutch). The exhibition will run from 21 May to 14 September and will feature sculptures from 20 artists. The event is free and open to the public at any point of the day (provided there isn’t an evening curfew… ugh).

In 2018 (blog post) and 2019 the event was sand sculptures. Unfortunately the 2020 event was cancelled due to the corona crisis, so it is nice to see it return this year.

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Window shopping (Or: Anyone up for some stroopwafels?)

Stroopwafels being the Dutch delicacy of two thin wafels with caramel syrup in the middle (English Wikipedia). They were originally made in Gouda in the 19th century. In my opinion, the best way to eat them is from a street vendor while they are still warm. There is a local company by the name of Van Schaik (official website) which makes them. Usually they have a street stand but recently they also opened a store in the same area on Venstraat.

Marco and I took a walk on Sunday and spotted a few cute heart-shaped stroopwafels in their shop window:

You can also get them in the tourist tins (which sell really well, I’m sure).

The sugar waffles above are what caught Marco’s eye in the first place.

But the coolest thing was definitely this bucket of stroopwafel pieces. Holy moly! That is a LOT of stroopwafel. My only fear with bringing that home is that I wouldn’t be able to stop eating them…

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Road construction for “Plaats” (Or: That might cause some accidents)

Today I took a walk in the area of Buitenhof and Plaats (English Wikipedia and Dutch Wikipedia, respectively). The city is currently in the middle of a two year redesign of the “Plaats” area (which literally translates to “Place”).

I must admit I was slightly confused by new stone walkway area extending from the pedestrian area into the road (and bike path):

It’s a bit hard to see with the wet stone, but the entire area is now the same height, with the road and bike path disappearing. Here is a look from a bit further away:

But that is the city’s plan for the area. The official page which mentions the work that is going on and how long it lasts (denhaag.nl, in Dutch) states: “Hiervoor wordt het straatniveau overal gelijkgemaakt en […] de route langs de Hofvijver blijft wel te gebruiken voor taxi’s en bestemmingsverkeer (bijvoorbeeld om winkels te bevoorraden, parkeergarages te bereiken of te laden en te lossen).” Or, in English: The street will be made the same height in all places and the street pictured above will only be opened to taxis or local traffic (to supply stores, to reach parking garages or to unload or load supplies).”

Therefore at some point there will be fewer cars in the area so it will be less of an issue. But it looks a bit weird at the moment.

However, why do they have to use stones that don’t dry as quickly? You can see the difference in the second photo, with the old stones already drying after the latest rainfall (which makes them less slippery).

It will be interesting to see how it looks once the construction finally finishes later this spring.

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It’s been four years? (Or: Memorial to Chuck Deely)

Some kind soul created a memorial to Chuck Deely outside the Albert Heijn on the Grote Marktstraat:

Chuck Deely (Dutch Wikipedia) was an American street musician that was active in The Hague from the ’90s until his death on January 2017. I can’t believe it has been four years! There will never be anyone like him again.

He has been honored a few ways since his death, including a statue by Central Station:

He also received a mural in one of the tram tunnels near the Turfmarkt (thehaguestreetart.nl, in English).

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A burst of blue wings (Or: Graffiti in the Raamstraat)

Check out this beautiful graffiti in the Raamstraat by the Bristol store and by the Rootz restaurant:

The first thing I noticed was the blue wings of the bird, but the face at the top is just as stunning honestly. It never stops amazing me how graffiti (and poetry) just randomly appears in this city. Here’s some owl graffiti Marco and I found last year and here is a corona-related poem that appeared in the same area as Bristol last year.

This morning also saw a milestone in the Netherlands: First person in the Netherlands vaccinated against Covid-19 at 8:43 a.m. from nltimes.nl. The recipient was a 39-year old nursing home worker who works in Veghel, a town in the southern part of the Netherlands. Veghel was also where the first registered case of coronavirus was found last year, so the choice of where to administer the first vaccination is also symbolic.

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But where did the fireworks go? (Or: Happy New Year!)

As mentioned earlier, fireworks are banned this year to try and keep the number of hospital visits down. And this is not without good reason: Dozens of hospitals struggling to provide urgent care (from nltimes.nl). Part of the problem is that more and more health workers are out sick during this wave.

Police and firefighters are prepared for “all scenarios” on New Year’s Eve, also from nltimes.nl. Unfortunately this means cancelling all scheduled leave for them to increase the the number of forces out on the streets. For the most part the number one goal is to protect medical workers, with a secondary goal being to enforce the corona measures.

But – The Hague is currently breaking records for the most fireworks turned in! Since you can’t purchase fireworks this year, and you aren’t allowed to legally store it anywhere, a lot of Dutch cities came up with the idea of a few days where citizens could safely turn in their fireworks – even the highly illegal kind – without fear of punishment. At the end of the second day, 600 kilo (1,322 pounds) had been turned in. Ruim 600 kilo vuurwerk ingeleverd bij inzamelactie in Den Haag (nos.nl, article in Dutch).

Above: fireworks from last year.

Random news: I read on indebuurt.nl that a new donut shop was closing before I even got a chance to try it: Deze zaken in Den Haag gaan niet meer open in het nieuwe jaar (article in Dutch). It’s on page 8 of the article. The name was Daddy Donuts Churros Cartel. Donuts and churros – what more could you ask for, really?

Finally, if you have no idea what to do today you can check out Goodbye 2020, a free online streaming event that will last from tomorrow afternoon through the night, with about 40 Dutch artists. Free online festival to entertain youth on New Year’s Eve, from nltimes.nl. The Dutch government donated 1 million euros to the cause with the hopes of keeping youth off the streets tomorrow night, and instead at home watching the various streams. We’ll see if it works. (However, I’m not entirely sure if you can access the streams from outside the Netherlands.)

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Christmas lights at the Grote Markt (Or: 2020 edition)

Take a look at the Christmas lights at the Grote Markt (denhaag.com in English). Grote Markt is usually a popular bar/club hangout with an active nightlife. Things are of course pretty quiet these days, although the restaurants are still open for takeout or delivery.

The church tower in the background is the Grote Kerk (Wikipedia).

I also took a different shot to try and avoid the trucks on the right side. The bonus of the second shot was that it showed off the Haagse Harry statue:

In other news – take a peek in the mayor of The Hague’s office, courtesy of indebuurt.nl, a news website. The article is in Dutch. Or take a look at the Coronawacht, a satirical version of the Rembrandt’s The Night Watch (Wikipedia). Note: the artist admitted that he wasn’t the most skilled, and it was a very quick job, so keep that in mind. The little details are good though – like Irma Sluis making the sign for “hamsteren” in the middle behind the Dutch prime minister, or the doctors rushing past, or the markers on the ground denoting 1 and a half meters distance, or the then minister of Medical Care collapsing during a corona debate back in March (bbc.com) and resigning a day later.

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Lange Poten on a Friday morning (Or: Lockdown edition)

Last Friday I took a photo of the Lange Poten street during lockdown:

As you can see it was pretty quiet. I believe the only store open on this street was Kruidvat, a pharmacy/general store (for those Americans among us, think Walgreens).

If you know a bit of Dutch, check out this YouTube video entitled: “#HoujeHaags – Have a Royal Winter“, about how Haagenaars (people from The Hague) have kept strong during 2020.

Christmas card boom, as PostNL processes 14 million cards a day from dutchnews.nl. On a normal day they process about 7 million cards. Crazy! I would like to think I helped out a bit with that surge.

Dutch scientists help find way to predict serious coronavirus cases, also from dutchnews.nl.

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Rotating girls with pearl earrings (Or: Mauritshuis at Christmas time)

I was able to get a few photos of the Mauritshuis museum during a short walk this week. What do you think of the Christmas tree?

Mauritshuis is most known for Vermeer’s The Girl with a Pearl Earring. You can see a homage to this behind the right pillar in the image – but it is not exactly the painting, either. It is a digital display where the head and outfit change slightly every few seconds.

As you can see above, now the photo is of someone else with a blue cap instead of a headscarf.

You can also visit the museum virtually via this link (it is like Google Map’s Street View).

And a fun bit of news, an article from indebuurt.nl about the many face masks The Hague’s new mayor wears: De vele verschillende mondkapjes van de Haagse burgemeester Jan van Zanen.

Page 1: a face mask with The Hague’s yellow and green colors. Page 2: a face mask with a The Girl with a Pearl Earring design. Page 3: a face mask from Museon, a science and culture museum in The Hague. Page 4: a face mask from HTM, The Hague’s public transportation company. Page 5: a face mask from a local soccer club. Page 6: a face mask with a depiction of Haagse Harry. Page 7: no idea, really.

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