Last week Marco and I traveled to Amsterdam to see my sister-in-law, who was in town for work. One of the activities we did was a canal tour by boat:
A random bridge along the way. The weather was great, as you can see. Blue skies and lots and lots of sun. I of course forgot to bring sunscreen but hey, what can you do (except be smarter next time). We also had lovely weather this weekend, although today’s weather definitely colder with a hint of rain here and there.
And one of the random house boats we saw along the way. It’s definitely not my thing to live on one of those, but to each their own. The flowers were a nice touch.
Speaking of flowers: a lovely, flower covered bike. It definitely demands your attention.
And finally, a bowl of yoghurt for me and a small plate of poffertjes (Dutch mini pancakes) for my sister-in-law. This was a restaurant very much themed towards tourists – I think there were about 15 orange clogs hanging from the wall. (Both pages link to English Wikipedia.)
As a kid I was always eating Now and Later candy (English Wikipedia). Or Spree candy, the chewy version. The best part about Now and Later candy is that it is hard now and chewy later, hence the name.
I have thought about these candies now and then over the years, but it was never a big enough craving to buy a bag while I was in the States. I usually think about the candy whenever I see Marco put a peppermint in his mouth and bite it immediately. He can never wait, not even a few seconds. I told him before “well if you had a Now and Later candy you wouldn’t be able to do that!” because the candy starts off so hard it is impossible to safely bite through at the beginning.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the local expat store, Kelly’s, started selling the Now and later candies last month. I immediately planned a trip to the store and dragged Marco along. Later that night I unwrapped a candy, inspecting it. It looked hard like the original candy, but perhaps quite like I remembered. I took a bite, and felt the familiar disappointment of an expat set in. By which I mainly mean the disappointment of moving away and things change while you are gone. It was still tasty, mind you. Just not quite the same as it used to be. It isn’t as hard anymore–maybe people sued over their broken teeth–which was unfortunate considering the name.
It’s still fun to things drifting over from the States, though. I think two of the most important things are Frank’s original red hot sauce (for me) and Frank’s red hot buffalo wing sauce (for Marco). You can even get it at the local grocery store, Albert Heijn. No extra trip to the expat store needed. So it isn’t all disappointment!
Here is something I spotted at a local gift shop which I will not name:
Hmmm. You almost wonder if it is on purpose, but I don’t think so!
In other news:
Bioscopen draaien beste dag sinds begin coronacrisis from nos.nl (=Movie theatre has best day since the start of the corona crisis). Movie theatres were hit hard here. Even when they were not forced to completely close they still had to adhere to social distancing and have open seats between each group, or they weren’t allowed to sell refreshments, or they had to deal with a night curfew. But now since the new Jurassic World and Top Gun films have come out, and since Dr. Strange is still being shown in the theaters, the number of people going to the movie theatre is starting to (slowly) rise again.
Last week MediaMarkt moved about 300 meters. Still on Grote Marktstraat, but now it is even closer to the city centre action. MediaMarkt is like a Dutch Best Buy, for my American readers. The new location is in the building which used to house the V&D clothing store (1969-2015) and the Canadian store Hudson’s Bay (2017-2019). Hopefully MediaMarkt has more luck than those two stores did…
It is definitely a prime location, even better than the previous one which was near the end of the Grote Markstraat shopping area. And what picture isn’t accentuated with someone cycling past?
This image is kind of funny – I hadn’t realized the girl in the middle was basically filming herself with MediaMarkt in the background. Maybe she was streaming it to YouTube? Especially with how she is holding her free hand by her face.
I definitely won’t miss the old MediaMarkt location, with its old grimy carpet and horrible stairs. It was either take the horrible stairs or wait for the slowww elevator. Either way, you lost. There’s no carpet in this new location and there are escalators if you want to go to the upper floor. That alone makes it a win in my book.
Last week workers by HTM (The Hague’s public transportation company in this area) announced that they would be going on strike on Thursday, June 2. Among other things, drivers are looking for 5% extra pay and a solution for too much work.
At first I thought there might be a chance that the the news came out early because they were hoping to bring attention to the situation while negotiations continue, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. On Google I found a page over at cnvvakmensen.nl (a trade union): Oproep tot staking 2 juni HTM. This page explains what HTM workers should do if they are working in the morning, or a later in the day, or a night shift into morning that day, and more. Even what they should do if they want to show solidarity but not strike (take a day off) or what they should do if they don’t want to strike (contact HTM and work their shift in the the garage as HTM has also said no buses or trams will ride if there is a strike).
So at the moment it looks like the strike will happen, although the news hasn’t really been broadcast widely on The Hague’s news sites or on htm.nl – yet.
This year the tram tracks for tram 16 are being re-done to allow for the new Avenio tram (htm.nl, in English). The Avenio tram is wider so almost the entire track needs to be re-done to accommodate this.
This area is not far from the Buitenhof / Hofvijfer / Dutch parliament. You can see the parliament buildings in the background on the right side. Due to the construction tram 16 is currently taking the route of tram 1 on its way to Statenkwartier. You can read more about the construction over at denhaag.nl in English. The end of the route, Statenkwartier, will be tackled in the second half of this year. At that point tram 16 will ride over the route of tram 3 for part of its journey. The expectation is that everything will be done by March 2023.
For the most part I am a fan of Avenio trams, especially as they are level with the ground so you don’t need to go up or down a few stairs like you do with the old trams. (That came in handy once when I bought something heavy. Distance wise I could have easily walked home but due to how heavy it was I decided to take one of the Avenio trams to get closer to my house.) It is of course also helpful if you have a stroller or luggage.
The only thing I don’t like about the Avenio trams is that both sides are two seaters. The old trams are a bit narrower and have 2 seaters on the left side and single seaters on the right. When I am traveling alone I always go for a single seat or I stand.
The color of the Avenio tram (omroepwest.nl in Dutch) will slowly be changing from red-black to white-red between now and the end of 2023. As each tram comes in for maintenance it will be updated. I did see one in the wild already last month but I didn’t have time to take a photo. The Hague’s public transportation company HTM is doing this because it is easier to see white-red than it is black-red, so it is a bit safer for traffic.
So last time I talked about King’s Night, which is when you go to music festivals, drink overpriced beer, and dance like a maniac. Oh, and try to avoid being pickpocketed–apparently the police found a 13 year old and 20 year old with a bag full of 21 stolen telephones on King’s Day (article in Dutch over at omroepwest.nl). Sheesh.
In contrast, King’s Day itself is about selling cheap stuff. This is the one day a year it is legal for anyone to sell their old furniture, toys, books, you name it. Well, anything except food. Almost all cities ban that. I didn’t get any photos of these vrijmarkten (free markets) this year, but check out my post from way back in 2012 (!). Back when it was Queen’s Day, before she abdicated the throne and became Princess Beatrix. Marco took those photos for me since I was till living in America back then.
One thing I did get photos of was the flower sale at the Lange Voorhout. It was quite colorful, and not just because of the flowers:
These juichcapes (cheer capes) were sold by the grocery chain Jumbo last summer when there were a lot of high profile sporting events going on (Tour de France, Dutch Grand Prix, UEFA Euro Cup, etc.).
Tonight is the 10th anniversary of The Life I Live festival. Note: their website is definitely experiencing server capacity issues, so it is a bit hit or miss to visit it right now.
The last edition was of course in 2019. It is held in The Hague’s city centre, with musical acts spread out over about 8-10 stages. The opener this year was the Ukrainian band Go_A. Last year they participated in the Eurovision Song festival held in Rotterdam. This year the band got special permission from the Ukrainian government to travel to The Hague to perform (as technically Ukrainian men are not supposed to leave Ukraine right now).
This stage was at the Lange Voorhout not far from the Escher museum and Hotel Des Indes.
This smaller stage was on the opposite end of the Lange Voorhout, featuring the band Kuzko. I didn’t stay long, but they really brought the bass! It was a weird feeling to feel the bass after not going to any concerts the last two years.
King’s Night (and more accurately King’s Day) is a holiday to celebrate the birth of the Dutch King Willem Alexander who turns 55 tomorrow. The joke “Max komt misschien later…” is a joke that Max Verstappen, the 2021 F1 world champion, might stop by here later. Hmm.
(Man, I still remember when it was weird to see Willem Alexander with a beard!)
This coming Wednesday is King’s Day here in the Netherlands, a public holiday for most of us. The larger Dutch cities like The Hague and Amsterdam also have parties to celebrate. The Hague has “The Life I Live” festival (official website in Dutch) traditionally held the evening before, dubbed King’s Night. This free musical festival is held throughout the city centre. This year there are 8 small stages for artists to perform. The Ukrainian band Go_A will open the festival.
I suspect things will get a bit insane Tuesday evening as the event has not been held for the last two years due to corona. The 2019 edition drew 275,000 visitors for those two days (omroepwest.nl, in Dutch), so it will be interesting to see how many we get this year. The local transportation company HTM runs an alternate route due to how congested the city centre gets. (I must admit it is kind of fun to walk down the middle of the street and not worry about cars or trams.) HTM and the national train service will also add extra night buses and trains to help everyone get home at the end of the evening.
But why did I mention orange in this post’s title? Because everyone wears orange, of course! Well, the tourists and the diehard Dutchies do, at any rate. Here is a look at the King’s Day merchandise at Xenos:
Anyone else remember the attempt to rename Koningsdag to Woningsdag for the first year of the pandemic? Woning = home, so it was an attempt to be clever and tell people to be safe and celebrate the holiday from home.