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We have given in (Or: Time for oliebollen)

Earlier this month I had mentioned that oliebollen stands started appearing on 1 October, the first day they were allowed to do so. Marco finally gave in today (16 October) and purchased an oliebol for me and a krentenbol for himself, aka an oliebol with raisins. It still annoys Marco that the names changed over the years. It used to be that if you ordered an oliebol you would get a doughnut-like thing with raisins. If you wanted the version without raisins you had to say “oliebol without raisins”. Oh well…

Of course I had already taken a few bites when I remembered that I wanted to take a photo for a blog post, so I had to strategically position it so that you couldn’t really tell that about 15% was missing…

Marco and I either make our oliebollen ourselves or we order it from Vermolen in the city centre. I found this article about the 2021 situation (in Dutch from ad.nl): Oliebollen van Vermolen toch op Grote Marktstraat, gemeente verandert van gedachte. Quick summary: this oliebollen stand was always found at the Spui. However, for the last three years the stand was moved to the end of Grote Markt, about 100-150 meters away but much closer to the crowds of shoppers. It was moved due to the ongoing construction at the Spui for the Amare building. Officially the construction is complete and the Amare building is open, but things are still in a bit of flux in the area. The owner of the oliebollen stand first heard last week that he had to move back to his old location this year, but after a bit of campaigning at city hall (a lot of the politicians stop by for his oliebollen) he heard that he was indeed able to open at the Grote Marktstraat this year. Next year is still up for debate – he might need to move back to the Spui then.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Categories: Holidays | Tags: | Leave a comment

Just how crowded is it? (Or: Sign in a tram in The Hague)

Earlier last month while on a tram ride I spotted a sign asking Is het rustaagh?!

Is het rustaagh?! is the equivalent of the Dutch saying Is het rustig? but spelled with an Hague accent. It means “Is it busy?” in English. It was a sign promoting HTM’s service to show how crowded a tram was in the HTM app or on the HTM website. The service was first introduced in September of last year, with occasional promotion popping up during the busier months.

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Anyone up for some Sinterklaas sweets? (Or: Albert Heijn offerings)

One of the local Albert Heijns has an entire wall display for Sinterklaas sweets:

Think of things like speculaas with almond filling (cakieshq.com), spiced kruidnoten cookies (thespruceeats.com) and the softer pepernoten cookies (allrecipes.com).

Autumn arrived at the end of September, bringing a lot of rain and cold with it. If you are not paying attention, you will get caught in a sudden downpour that soaks you and then dissipates within 10 minutes. Marco and I also still need to try the yearly traditional of oliebollen, as I mentioned in a previous blog post. Soon!

At least the weather looks a bit drier this week, even if the warmth of summer is gone.

Categories: Daily Dutch living, Everyday purchases | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Oliebollen (Or: It must be October)

Last year it was a huge decision to let the oliebollen stands open a month earlier, on 1 October, due to missed income (no festivals were being held, etc.). This year they also opened a month earlier, from yesterday. But this was more of a surprise as it wasn’t splashed everywhere on the news. The stands are usually allowed to be open between 1 November and mid-to-late January as oliebollen is a treat for Christmas and New Years.

But it is good news to see that the stand is back in the city centre, at the end of the Grote Markt shopping street (across from the public library). And perhaps they will be allowed to stay here; they moved to this spot some years back due to the construction around the Amare building. But construction of the Amare building is complete (previous blog post) so that is a good sign for the oliebollen stand.

In case you have no clue what oliebollen are, here is the page on English Wikipedia. Just try and read that without drooling.

Categories: Culture, Food, Holidays, The Hague | Tags: | Leave a comment

Box of sweets (Or: Gift from my office)

Last week I received a surprise box of sweets from my office:

The box was put together by a company called Daniëlle kookt & zo (roughly translated as Daniëlle cooks and etc). One of their specialities is filled letters and numbers, each filled with either sweet or savory treats.

Mine is filled with brownies, macaroons, fudge, mini cookies, meringue and more. Delicious!

This gift is to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of our office opening in The Hague, as well as the reopening of the office on 20 September. Since March 2020 the office was closed; before you travelled to the office you needed to secure permission. Since last week the office is open Monday through Thursday and closed on Fridays for cleaning. We are using hot desking and have a desk reservation system to ensure that social distancing is adhered to. (Although today is also the day that the 1.5 meters rule is abolished in most places; in exchange you need to show your coronapas (corona pass) if you want to sit inside a restaurant or go to the movies, etc. Read more at dutchnews.nl in English.)

At the moment going back to the office is optional. Personally I plan on going back later in the year. Next year, in the new form of hybrid working, each department can determine how often its workers need to be in the office. The department I work has asked for us to be in the office at least 4 days a month, but which days those are are determined by each team and the individual worker. My employer has been very lenient in that regard.

I do miss the commute so I do plan on going in more often than the minimum requirement. Although there is something to be said for the quick commute from the bed to the desk…

Categories: Working & Volunteering | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Hotel Jakarta (Or: Celebrating our wedding anniversary in Amsterdam)

Marco and I celebrated our wedding anniversary over the weekend. We booked two nights at the hotel Jakarta in Amsterdam:

It is a lovely 4 star hotel a few kilometers from Central Station. It is walkable, although after the initial walk we decided to take tram 26 back and forth (2 stops). As you can tell, most rooms had a balcony, which was definitely one of the highlights for me. I sunned outside for almost an hour the first day. Even the floor was nice and warm. It turned out to be a good choice, since there was definitely less sun on the second day.

In the distance you can see the Jan Schaeferbrug (bridge). It has quite an interesting design. You can read about it over on Wikipedia in Dutch (link). It has stairs on either side of the bridge and either side of the river, and a sloped ramp for pedestrians and cyclists on 3 out of the 4 sides. The 4th side doesn’t have a ramp, only stairs, since the construction literally goes through an old monument building, the Pakhuis de Zwijger (Dutch Wikipedia). You can also see more photos at bruggenvanamsterdam.nl (Bridges of Amsterdam).

Here is the bridge at night. The photo credit goes to Marco. His night photos are always better than mine! Although the photo makes the lighting look even more gorgeous than it was in real life.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Marco&Niki | Tags: | 2 Comments

Who needs to get home? (Or: I thought my day was annoying)

After a long workday (one more day until the weekend!) I logged off around 17:00, glad to close the computer and rest my brain for a bit. Turns out it could be worse: there are no trains running at the moment in the country. There is a disruption with the train communication system. That means traffic controllers can’t speak with the conductors. This is deemed a safety risk so all trains have been stopped.

Dutch rail traffic shut down over train control telephone outage from nltimes.nl.

Rijdt niet = not riding

The crazy thing is that this is not the first time this happened this year. It also happened back in May (also nltimes.nl in English). It makes me glad that I don’t need to grab the train today – good luck to everyone who does!

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Lunch by Little V (Or: Time to drool a bit)

Marco, Roger and I decided to have lunch by Little V over the weekend. Little V is a Vietnamese restaurant in The Hague’s city centre. Thanks to corona we’ve only had takeout once, a temporary option they put in place when restaurants were forced to close last year. I forgot how much I missed the food!

Little V is well known for their cocktails, both alcohol and, in this case, non-alcoholic. Marco had a “spiced lemon and rose”, a spicy lemonade with rose petals, red peppers and spices. Roger had a “ginger breeze”, with fresh ginger, lychee juice and jasmine tea. I had a “Little T Mix”, a mix of ginger, lemongrass and jasmine tea. Yum.

Some of our appetizers were fish cakes (on the left) and chicken spring rolls (on the right). We were pleasantly surprised that even though the menu says that some items are two pieces, you can ask for three. No sharing necessary!

And our lunches (which sort of replaced our dinners as well). I had a delicious, delicious, delicious bánh mì sandwich with chicken. It was spicy, packed with red peppers, but also sour, packed with pickled vegetables. It really hit the spot – I am a huge fan of spicy sourness. The Vietnamese bread itself was also perfect. As usual, my only alternation was removing some of the coriander stems (but keeping the coriander leaves themselves).

Roger’s dish on the left was Bun Bo Xao, with beef tenderloin, while Marco had Bun Heo, with roasted pork belly. Both also received rave reviews from the boys.

I am drooling a bit thinking about the next time I can order that sandwich again. Good stuff!

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Eyes wide open (Or: Slightly creepy Albert Heijn mascot)

Imagine my surprise when the mascot at Albert Heijn (one of the local grocery stores) was staring at me creepily while I was choosing which sparkling water to purchase. I don’t know; maybe it was the wide open eyes staring back at me? Also slightly creepy is the very realistic pink nose with wrinkles..

But that will never top the satirical video that made fun of stockpiling (YouTube) last March at the height of the corona craziness. It used images from a movie, with the Albert Heijn jingle slowed down and creepy sounding on top of it. Twitch.

Dutch lesson: 2e gratis = second (item) free.

2 = twee, second = tweede, which frequently gets abbreviated to 2e.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Categories: Everyday purchases | Tags: | Leave a comment

Open house by Amare (Or: Also, new greenery)

This weekend was an open house at The Hague’s newest building, the Amare cultural complex (Amare.nl, in English). It was part of the UIT Festival (uitfestivaldenhaag.nl, in English), a festival which kicks off the 2021-22 cultural season in The Hague. Some of the events are in person, some of the events are virtual. The first events at Amare are planned for later this month, including events by Nederland dans theater’s “Skin of the mind” (ndt.nl, in English).

They have planted new (temporary) plants in front of the complex, opening up the space a bit for the opening day and removed part of the gates. It is so nice to have more space in this area again! The construction zone was taking up a lot of it (and still is, on the left side of the building).

Last week Marco took a few photos of the plants being added:

And an hour later it already looked like this:

Quick work! And even a radio for some tunes.

Categories: Culture, The Hague | Tags: | Leave a comment

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