The Hague

The beauty of The Hague (Or: Unseen flowers)

As with most places in the world, beauty is blooming and yet there is no one around to see it. But this is where technology can help – be it cameras or drones. The first example is Clingendael, a Japanese garden situated in The Hague. I actually haven’t visited yet, partially because it is only open for a short time in the spring.

The second place is Keukenhof, not too far outside of The Hague. I mentioned it a few weeks ago in this blog already. It is a large tulip park, open for a few months in the year. Last year they had 1.5 million visitors. This year they weren’t even able to open before the crisis took hold.

The latest video they posted was of the violinist Rosanne Philippens playing during a sunrise:

They post videos of Keukenhof every few days – check out their YouTube channel for more.

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Impatience (Or: A growing unrest in parts of The Netherlands)

While it is still minimal, there is a growing sense of unrest in The Netherlands regarding the lockdown – that the economy is suffering because of it, that people’s freedoms are being taken away. This is apt because 4 May is the day where the Dutch remember the victims of WWII and 5 May is the day where the Dutch celebrate the freedom they have.

While our lockdown is labeled as an “intelligent lockdown” where you are asked to stay inside as much as you can and work from home as much as you can, it is nothing like the lockdowns seen in France, Italy or Spain where you were only let outside for emergency reasons with what basically amounts to a permission slip from the teacher. Those countries are just beginning to relax the harsh lockdowns.

Today someone had left anti-lockdown messages (article in Dutch) outside the Lewyeg shopping center and the entrance to the Zuiderpark. There was also anti-lockdown demonstrations in The Hague and Utrecht.

Oh, and the country also has issues with persons burning down cell towers as some believe there is a link between 5G and the coronavirus (article in Dutch). Of course sometimes they burn down cell towers that are not 5G and are instead used for the national emergency number 112. Hmmm.

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Words of wisdom (Or: Quotes in unexpected places)

A few days back I snapped a photo. It shows a quote on the side of the tram viaduct leading into Centraal Station:

Een leven zonder boeken is onleefbaar – Erasmus / A life without books is unlivable – Erasmus

So true, so true. The National Library is around the corner, hence the quote.

Today marks the 8th week of working from home. Dare I say that it is becoming a bit… normal? It will be a bit difficult returning to work, both in terms of figuring out the social distancing rules at work (I suspect a lot more people will be taking the stairs) and in figuring out the public transportation situation (I suspect I’ll be walking more).

But my main concern is getting outside enough – it’s obviously getting a bit busier in the streets so it requires a bit more creative timing. Early in the morning or later in the evening. I’m exaggerating a bit, but not completely. On the other hand, it does mean I get to learn even more about The Hague. Time to get an encyclopedic knowledge of little known streets that still provide enough distance to pass each other when someone does walk your way.

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Herengracht in The Hague (Or: Mostly empty on Sunday mornings)

Here is a photo of the street Herengracht in The Hague, not far from Centraal Station.

If you keep walking, you’ll come to the Korte Poten street, with the American Book Centre (or the “ABC store”, as some call it). They are open for limited browsing and order collection only. In the same area on your left is the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives in English, literally “the second room”). And just a bit farther is the Centrum tram/bus stop which is of course a ghost town these days.

A few news stories about animals today:

Japanese aquarium urges public to video-chat eels who are forgetting humans exist (theguardian.com)

After four months of waiting, a baby panda is born at Dutch zoo (DutchNews.nl)… this was after 16 years of campaigning to bring pandas to The Netherlands for breeding purposes. Talk about the long game!

The urban wild: animals take to the streets amid lockdown – in pictures (theguardian.com).

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1.5 meters (Or: Social distancing at the local Asian store)

Here is a quick photo taken outside of the local Asian store, Amazing Oriental. Sometimes it is busy enough that you just gotta social distance yourself. There are small bits of caution tape along the wall letting you know where to stand.

Kudos to the store for keeping a manageable amount of people inside at the one time – you’re only able to enter when the worker brings back a free shopping cart. It was also a relatively fast moving line as the average wait was only two or three minutes.

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#HoudjeHaags (Or: Sign by Sostrene Grenes)

Here is a sign spotted a few days ago by the Sostrene Grenes store:

I’ll admit I just thought it was a nice sign in the corona times, but Marco explained that it also a pun on the existing phrase ‘Houd je haaks!’ which is said when someone leaves. It means something like ‘Stay safe’, ”Keep well’ or ‘Take care’. The two phrases–Houdjehaaks and HoudjeHaags–sound very similar when spoken aloud, but of course #HoudjeHaags is the phrase Dutchies from The Hague would use.

And if you’re interested, the city of The Hague would like to sell you a t-shirt with that phrase, with a bit more than half of the proceeds going to charity.

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Flowers (Or: A bit of color, up close and from afar)

Happy King’s Day, everyone! First, a picture of a mural in the city centre:

This mural is found at the entrance of what used to be one of the Amazing Oriental franchises until a few months ago. It’s in the Markthof, a small shopping area, at the entrance across from Momiji sushi. This one shouldn’t be confused with the larger Amazing Oriental franchise that is underground on the Grote Markt street. This store still exists but without the Amazing Oriental branding.

Not the best picture I’ve taken, but I needed to adhere to social distancing rules. This picture shows about 2/3rds of the mural.

Are you interested in seeing a short time lapse of tulip fields blooming, taken from a European Space Agency satellite? Check out the view at www.esa.int.

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Spiegel, spiegel aan de wand (Or: Poetry about the coronavirus)

Marco spotted this poem on the side of a building in The Hague city centre. It’s across from the MediaMarkt (to the left of the photo is the Rootz restaurant).

In English it reads:

Mirror, mirror on the wall
I want to walk on the beach, hand in hand

I want to greet people on the street
and give a hug to the neighbor
with whom I talk

I want to eat something with others
without having to measure 1.5 meters

I want to look at how the tulips bloom
and stand in line for a party

I want to enjoy the spring sun
and walk with friends around the block

But for now we need to call each other
and be nice, even if it is with a small gesture

And then—before we know it—
we’ll be with each other again…

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Serenity (Or: Between the Binnenhof and the Mauritishuis)

Happy Friday, everyone! Here is a photo I took during a walk yesterday:

On the left you have the Binnenhof, on the right you have the Mauritshuis, an art museum. Perhaps you know its most famous painting? The Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer.

In the background, the water leads to the Hofvijver pond, of which I’ve taken countless photos of over the years.

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Supporting local businesses (Or: Takeout? Delivery?)

Okay, I’ll admit I’m not a big fan of delivery. I would gladly do takeover over delivery any day. I think I am in the minority, though!

Check out the sign by the local Momiji Sushi and Momiji Ramen. They are special enough to have two websites and two entrances (normally) – even though they are run by the same company and you can walk from one part to the other.

A sign saying they are open for both takeout and delivery, and giving their opening times.

I am definitely a fan of the color work on that sign. I think maybe I’ll suggest we get some sushi… or ramen… this weekend. Yum!

Fun side note: “Ramen” means “windows” in Dutch. Let me tell you, Marco loves to make jokes about their windows every time we walk past. (I love that. Usually…)

Support your local business and stay safe, everyone.

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