The Hague

Keep to the right (Or: Spray painted measures in The Hague’s city centre)

The Hague has replaced the “keep to the right” stickers on the Grote Markt with spray painted versions. Well, the old stickers are still there but most of them are half torn off or trampled. So “replaced” is probably not the most accurate description.

The photo above was taken at the Grote Markt, just before Bijenkorf (so just before this photo which I posted over the weekend).

In other news…

Groninger Museum to celebrate stolen Van Gogh painting a year after the theft from nltimes.nl. The special website (with facts and background information about the painting) will launch tomorrow.

Ever Given sets course for Rotterdam after six-day Suez blockade ends from dutchnews.nl. 400 meter ship gets stuck in the Suez canal at a part that was only 300 meter wide. 6 day blockade occurs. Opps? Interesting fact: most of the ships that were stuck behind this one were also destined for the Rotterdam port, meaning there are three delays: waiting for the ship to get unstuck, waiting to get through the Suez canal, and waiting to get unloaded at the port in Rotterdam.

No more free plastic bags in fresh produce section of Albert Heijn from nltimes.nl. That makes sense. I am only surprised it took so long. I already have a reusable bag for fruits and vegetables – Albert Heijn has sold them along side the free plastic bags for a few years now – but sometimes it is easier to use a plastic bag (especially when you get two types of things that both need to be weighed).

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Appointment required (Or: Line to enter Bijenkorf)

This morning I took a photo of the line to enter Bijenkorf, a high-end department store. There weren’t too many people in line yet – it was only 11:00 – but there was a large amount of space roped off on the Grote Markt shopping street.

The not-quite-readable sign says “Welcome! Access only allowed with appointment. Scan the QR-code to make an appointment.” (QR codes have definitely become more popular during the corona crisis.) In the Netherlands you need to make an appointment at least 4 hours in advance. Non-essential stores can have 1 person per 25 square meters, with a maximum of 50 shoppers in the store at one time.

The sculpture is called “Veelhoofd” (Many heads) and it was created by Joep van Lieshout. The art in The Hague’s city centre moves around a lot – the sculpture was initially installed on the Spui (stroom.nl, in English) around the corner back in 2010.

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Fridays for future (Or: Demonstration in The Hague’s city centre)

Marco took a photo of the “Fridays for Future” demonstration last Friday in The Hague’s city centre. Fridays for Future is an international climate movement (English Wikipedia).

The demonstration took place in the Hofplaats, right next to the Constitution bench I have blogged about a few times.

The Hofplaats is really close to both the Tweede Kamer and the Binnenhof. Off in the left corner of the photo is the “secret” entrance to the Binnenhof which I blogged about earlier this year.

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A new use for the PostNL location (Or: Amazing Oriental)

The last independent PostNL (national postal service) location closed in October, here in The Hague. Nowadays PostNL locations are kiosks within larger stores, usually managed by that store’s employees. After a while Amazing Oriental moved in. Amazing Oriental is a national Asian grocery store with a handful of locations in The Hague and surrounding area. They have a lot of great stuff – we’re usually there at least once a week. Marco is like a kid in a candy store in that shop…

Yesterday we visited the old PostNL location, across from the Grote Kerk (“Big Church”). While I was waiting for Marco to finish his shopping inside I snapped this photo:

As usual, lots of bikes. Also an orange post drop off box on the left. Even if PostNL doesn’t have a location here anymore, it is still a drop off point for mail. Although even those are disappearing or getting consolidated these days.

Fun fact: there used to be a 48 meter lang painting by Escher (Metamorphosis III) hanging in the PostNL location from 1969 until 2018, when it was moved to Schiphol airport. See also Escher in Het Paleis, the official Escher museum (website in English). The page also includes a film about moving the artwork to the airport.

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Random news for a Monday (Or: Brexit and cars stuck on train trucks)

From last week: Demand for gardeners shoots up as coronavirus turns gardens into refuges, dutchnews.nl. Makes sense, since most of us are spending all of our time at home these days. Apparently gardeners are already fully booked for April and May. Of course you first need space for a garden…

Brexit deficit: Dutch shops in a pickle over British favourites, also at dutchnews.nl. I have seen this first hand, with empty fridges at Kelly’s Expat Shopping, over on Zoutmanstraat in The Hague. Their fresh meat and cheese options have definitely been hit hard since Brexit went into force at the beginning of the year.

But I did snag some liquid French Vanilla coffee-mate for Marco. That stuff is like gold – it’s only in stock once or twice a year, so you have to be fast.

Apparently a minor was waiting in the car and somehow it went into reverse, crashing through a gate and ending up directly on the train tracks. Opps?

And, not really Dutch related at all, but if you want to try your hand at choosing the next set of Monopoly community chests cards, Hasbro is running a contest to refresh the set: Monopoly cards get complete new makeover from nltimes.nl. You will see two community chest cards at a time. You pick the one you like more and then another set appears. Here is a direct link to the contest at monopolycommunitychest.com. Think of things like: “You rescue a puppy–and you feel rescued too! Get out of jail free card” versus “Your friends video chat you through a tough day. Get out of jail free card”. In honor of these strange corona times I went with the second option.

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Origami display at the Nespresso store (Or: In the Passage)

Here are some beautiful blue origami swans for you:

This was at the Nespresso store in The Passage.

You can also see blue Nespresso cups in this close up:

Based on the pattern on the blue cups, I suspect that the flavor is Tokyo vivalto lungo, which has “delicate floral and fruity notes”. I’m not a big fan of Nespresso, though. I’d rather have a regular sized cup of coffee than an espresso.

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Voting in the 2021 Dutch elections (Or: City hall)

The 2021 Dutch elections (English Wikipedia) were held yesterday. Marco decided to cast his vote at The Hague’s city hall. Marco took a quick photo for me, aiming more at the ground to avoid getting anyone in the photo.

As you can see, everything was set up according to corona guidelines. Marco said later that it was set up rather well – there were volunteers controlling the lines, there was plenty of space between the voting booths and there was a separate entrance and exit. You entered by the library and then exited on the other side of city hall. (Check out a photo I took of city hall back in 2013, right after I moved to the Netherlands – there is a LOT of space.)

Above is random voting “paraphernalia” that Marco received, including a card with corona related questions and instructions about how to make your visit to the voting location as safe as possible, both for yourself and others. Also, special for this year only: most voters were allowed to keep the red pencil that they used to vote. Usually they are chained to the desk. However not all voters were allowed to keep the pencil. The choice was up to the city since they would have to finance the red pencils with their voting budget. Some cities decided it was more cost effective to clean them between each use instead.

Differences in cities also meant there were differences in pencils – some cities provided short, little pencils like above. Others provided longer red pencils with “Jouw stem telt!” or “Your vote counts!” printed on the side.

In COVID-19 election, Dutch voters ask: Can I keep the pencil? from reuters.com.

And of course the red pencils were already appearing on Markplaats (the Dutch eBay) early yesterday morning. Not that anyone should be surprised by that!

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Demonstrations in The Hague (Or: Malieveld and Koekamp)

Today there were two separate but simultaneous demonstrations at the Malieveld: a demonstration against the government’s corona measures (at Malieveld) and a demonstration for climate action (at the nearby Koekamp).

The maximum number of demonstrators for the Malieveld is 200 (and it used to be 100), a number that was quickly reached more than an hour before the scheduled 14:00 start time. When the police tried to prevent additional demonstrators from entering Malieveld, the demonstrators simply started marching through the city centre, including towards Plein 1813 (Dutch Wikipedia) on the northern side of the city centre. After that the police turned a blind eye to demonstrators joining the demonstration at Malieveld, for a time. By 15:30, the police said the demonstrators needed to leave immediately. Around 15:45 the police started clearing Malieveld by force, using mounted officers and water cannons.

Earlier in the afternoon all incoming trains to The Hague were (briefly) cancelled, which meant that you could only leave The Hague, not enter it. The train service has since resumed, however. The Hague’s tram and bus service is also slightly disrupted, with four trams (9, 15, 16 and 17) and one bus (20) running alternative routes at the moment. That is to be expected, though, since so many people are criss-crossing the tracks and roads around Malieveld.

The local website Regio15.nl has a three hour video (on YouTube, 3 hours long). They also have pictures taken throughout the afternoon of the situation. Just another day for Malieveld though – there have been a number of anti-corona demonstrations in the last year.

I think there was a fair amount of food behind, since the Malieveld is currently residence to about 20-30 seagulls. Hmm.

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Rabbijn Maarsenplein (Or: The Amalek monument)

Rabbijn Maarsenplein is a neighborhood in The Hague’s city centre which used to be well-known for its Jewish population before World War II. Most Jews did not survive. A few years back the Jewish Monument Foundation moved the 1967 memorial to this location, giving it a more prominent space. It depicts a family seeking protection, with a Holocaust victim at their feet. I have posted about this memorial a few times. The name “Amalek” comes from the biblical verse from the book of Deuteronomy: Remember what Amalek did to you… don’t forget, with Amalek representing the enemy of the Jews.

There are usually flowers at the base of this memorial, but this time the careful placement of a single white rose caught my eye:

And a photo from the front:

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Who will you vote for? (Or: The 2021 Dutch general election)

Next week is the 2021 Dutch general election to elect members of the Dutch House of Representatives. The election is officially scheduled for Wednesday, 17 March, however due to the pandemic you are also allowed to vote on 15 and 16 March.

I say “you” because I can’t vote – you need to be a Dutch citizen to do so. That’s fine, though. I am allowed to vote in the municipal elections (and curiously, the local water board elections). For the municipal elections the eligibility is simpler: as a non-EU citizen I need to be registered in the municipality and live in the Netherlands for five uninterrupted years.

I will admit that since I cannot vote in the upcoming elections I have not paid much attention to Dutch politics, although I did do my research before the municipality elections I voted in a few years back.

The Netherlands is full of advertisements like this: a huge board that shows all (most?) of the eligible parties for the upcoming election. As you can see some parties prefer to show the party leader (the first few squares) whereas other squares rely more on text or slogans.

And me being me, I did make sure to get a shot of tram 16 in the background. This was in the city centre. Behind the tram is Primark (English Wikipedia), an Irish “Fast fashion” retail store. I have bought a few things there over the years, but you can see the difference in quality because everything is so cheap. Although I did find one of my favorite Christmas decorations there a few years back. That was definitely a good purchase!

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