The Hague

“Ik mis je” sign (Or: The Cheesecake company)

I hope everyone is doing okay on this seemingly long Tuesday – only three more working days until a holiday (Ascension Day). Yay! Our last holiday until Christmas. Boo!

Here is a photo of an “Ik mis je” sign in the window of the Cheesecake Company. These signs have been appearing in the windows of restaurants and cafés all over The Netherlands. It stands for: I miss you.

It’s less than a week until restaurants, cafés and terraces can open again (with limitations). I’m sure half of the country is looking forward to it… should prove interesting.

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A different view of The Hague Centraal (Or: A day of sun)

On Thursday Marco and I went for a long walk. It was a great day to do so – a day off and temperatures around 26C / 79F. It was a bit weird to be able to wear shorts and a t-shirt, but I loved it.

On the way back we found ourselves at the “back” of the bus platform at The Hague Centraal train station. I honestly didn’t even know there was a path back there. You learn something new every day!

The bus platform was remodeled last year so that the bus lanes were more easily accessible. Previously if you wanted the last bus you needed to cross every bus lane to get to it. Now if you want the last bus you only need to walk to the end of the pedestrian area and then cross over to your desired bus.

I will happily tag this post as “Spring” because the weather was just that good. Much better than the slightly grey, will it rain or won’t it sort of day that we had today.

Fun video of the day: two cops and their horses dance a socially distanced salsa dance at Zuiderpark in The Hague (omroepwest.nl)

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Past, present, future (Or: Poetry about the coronavirus)

Last week Marco and I noticed another poem hanging on the wall of one of the buildings in the city centre:

It’s also on the Grote Markt, across the street from MediaMarkt at the Lust poffertjes restaurant (Instagram | Facebook). In English it reads:

A while ago there was war and occupation here
Even so peace, freedom and joy returned
The sun always came back from behind the clouds
Every time
This will happen again now, we don’t know when
but it will happen for sure

We live in the now
With the joy from before
And the hope for tomorrow
The sun will come again

The Hague,
Annette, 90 years

I blogged about a previous poem at the same location last month.

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Color emerges (Or: Walking through the Palace Gardens in May)

A few days ago I decided to walk through the Palace Gardens. You can see that it is getting busier, however logical that is. When I was there in late March there were only a few people around, including a man who sounded like he was coughing up a lung. I decided to not wander in his direction, I must admit.

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Watching you (Or: Art down a side street in The Hague)

Here is another random piece of art which I spotted at the end of a side street in The Hague:

And of course since it is the Netherlands you get to see a lot of bikes on each side of the alleyway. This is Bagijnestraat, a small side street off of the popular Lange Poten street, which includes stores, cafés and even the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives).

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Time to steal some cows (Or: Random side street in The Hague)

I’ve always wanted to write a blog post about this street!

Every time I walk past this street I have to laugh, but it seems so silly. The name of the street is Koediefstraat, which translates to Cow thief street. Hahaha. I’ll admit I had images of someone dragging an unwilling cow down this street while being chased by an unhappy army of Dutchies wielding pitchforks. But alas, the reason is a bit different.

If you go to the Haags Gemeentearchief website (The Hague city archive) and search for Koediefstraat, you’ll get two results for from the Straatnamencollectie, or the street name collection. The street had a few different names in the last 500+ years. One was Kromme Poten or Crooked legs but I’m not sure why. It was also named Wijnstraat or Wine street for a while due to the winery in the area. Another name was Burenstraat which was a reference to someone living in the area in the 1650s: Jacob van Buuren.

But the current name, Koediefstraat is likely a reference to Adriaan Janszoon Colijn whose nickname was Coedyff, which had a similar pronunciation to Koedief.

Also interesting to note: the painting on the side of the wall appeared recently; I don’t remember seeing it before. It caught my eye and reminded me that I wanted to do a blog post over the street name. There was no trace of it on Google Maps, whose most recent image was from June 2018.

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Coronavirus measures at The Hague Centraal (Or: Wait here, please)

The national train service NS has added additional measures by train stations in anticipation of the schedule returning to normal on 2 June. The delay of one day is because Monday, 1 June is a holiday here in The Netherlands.

Note: the schedule is returning to normal due to the expected increase of travelers, however the government still requests that people avoid public transportation when possible and instead take the car, bike or walk to their destination.

The latest measure related to the coronavirus situation is the use of one-way entrances and exits. As you can see in the photo above, you can only use every other door, depending on what side you’re on. There’s a lot of doors at the Centraal station, about 10 on each side. At least most of them are working these days… In the beginning at least half were defective. I wish I was joking!

Another common complaint after the station was remodeled was that it was really hard to see what was a door and what was a glass wall. I think most people are used to it these days although it still requires you to pay attention a little bit.

There’s also notes spray painted in the ground inside, although that’s been around since the beginning of the crisis, in some form or another. From the upper left it says ‘vermijd drukte’ (avoid busy areas, the rule that recently replaced the stay home as much as possible rule, ‘houd afstand’ (keep your distance), ‘was vaker je handen’ (wash your hands more often). In the middle is the main measure about keeping 1.5 meters distance from others, and at the bottom ‘voorkom €400 boete’ (avoid a €400 fine).

The NS train company have also recently added a ban of taking your bike with you in the train unless you have a special bike for medical purposes. They also temporarily removed the ‘Samenreiskorting’, a 40% discount when you travel with the train outside of peak hours with another person; this person must have either a season pass or a student product for you to qualify for the discount. Here is more information in English.

From 1 June you are required to wear a face mask in all public transportation. I’ve also seen information that only seats by the train window will be available for use, although this page (in Dutch) doesn’t say that directly. It does mention that you should only sit where green stickers are placed, however.

HTM, The Hague’s bus and tram service, is also working on new measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

This is also by The Hague Centraal station. As you can see, when you leave the tram you are required to exit to the right and walk along the path noted with arrows. Travellers who are waiting for the tram need to wait in the spots marked with blue or red stickers behind the line. The blue stickers show two feet and the red stickers have a QR code. Once everyone has exited the tram they will be allowed to move forward and enter the tram themselves. As The Hague Centraal is a rather busy area, there are workers present if you have questions (you can just see a man standing there in the upper left of the photo).

Back in mid-March HTM implemented a measure asking that travelers not use the button to open or close tram doors or to use the stop button to signal to the driver that they want to get off at the next stop. For the foreseeable future buses and trams will be stopping at every stop and opening every door so that travellers do not have to touch anything extra during the journey. As you can see above, there’s a sign on the tram door requesting that you do not press any buttons as it is no longer required.

It will definitely be interesting to see what the first week of June is like. At the same time that public transportation will be back to a normal schedule, restaurants will be re-opening with limited capacity as well.

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Let’s all go to Primark (Or: Unbelievable lines)

Okay, admittedly this photo was taken last Sunday, late in the afternoon. The Hague city centre gets busy at those times, even on the best of the days. Throw in some coronavirus and you have a recipe for pedestrian congestion.

Let’s see… about 50 people that we can see waiting to get inside the local Primark (a discount clothing store), probably another 20-25 around the corner. Admittedly, it is a double line which makes it look twice even more crowded.

And here I used to joke that people were insane when they would walk around the city with four fully loaded Primark bags. It really is a discount clothing store – I think I got a shirt there for 2 and a half euros once. Oh, and a very awesome Christmas ornament that I probably don’t have a photo of. But trust me, it was cute.

But probably not worth waiting in line for with 75 others.

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Corona measures at the Chinatown gate (Or: In The Hague)

Recently I noticed a new coronavirus measure that appeared in The Hague: clear walking paths near the Chinatown gate, which is found between Bijenkorf and Superdry.

On this side of the walkway the signs tell you to walk on the right and that cyclists need to get off their bike. Perhaps the one-way walkways are because of the construction around the gate taking up a lot of the space?

It’s an interesting idea, but I feel like this situation has shown me just how much the human race can ignore rules: I watched a couple walk on the left side, not a care in the world. As I emerged on the other side, I met someone who was walking in the wrong direction as well, taking the path I just exited. Some days I feel like a lot of measures are just for political show. But okay. It is what it is.

So that you can understand what I mean by “Chinatown gate”, here is a photo from early 2017:

Ironically, it also had construction around it on that day, although a lot less than what you would see currently.

Did you know that gates like this are entirely an American invention? They were invented in San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. Check out the episode “It’s Chinatown” on the 99% Invisible podcast to learn more.

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The Passage in The Hague (Or: Warnings about keeping your distance)

Last week Marco and I went through The Passage, which serves as both a passage between shopping areas in the city centre as well as being a shopping area in its own right.

There were stickers in the ground reminding visitors to keep appropriate distance from one another:

These signs weren’t that big, but they were big enough to catch your eye for sure. What I was less impressed with was the attempt to create one-way walking areas near the entrances to The Passage, as the arrows were tiny, hard to see and easily ignored. In fact, I watched two people walk right over them in the wrong direction, not a care in the world.

I do think the one way arrows will need to be ‘improved’ in the coming weeks as this part only gets busier and busier. They should have been more of them, with clearer lines in the floor. Also perhaps a dividing line that went straight down the middle for the entirety of the shopping area. But we will see how it works out in the coming weeks and months.

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