Christmas time (Or: A few of our decorations)

Last weekend Marco and I put up the Christmas tree. (Or more accurately, Marco put up the Christmas tree and I helped. I believe I say that every year…)

And here is a photo of one of my favorite ornaments, from Disneyland Paris. It’s quite possible she has made an appearance in my blog before:

Marco also got a bit creative with the desk lamp. If we have to sit around at home working all day, why not bring a bit of holiday cheer to our work space:

That light has served us well. We actually have three of them – the other two are on our nightstands. We bought them from Ikea in Delft at least 5 or 6 years ago. They are fully flexible and very bright. The perfect light to read (or these days, work) with.

And one article today, from in Dutch: Fotoserie: Zo werd 25 jaar geleden het Haagse stadhuis gebouwd. There are nine pages of photos showing the construction of The Hague’s city hall (and library) 25 years ago. The latter pages show the construction of the library, which is pretty cool to see.

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Bijenkorf holiday windows (Or: 2020 edition)

Here are some of the holiday windows Bijenkorf (a high-end retail store) here in The Hague. Bijenkorf is Dutch for beehive.

This one is Sinterklaas themed (you can see the music in backend and his staff in front of the music sheet). The white letters that are almost impossible to see say Muziek dat verbindt – the music that brings us together.
The mannequin was also slowly rotating. The white letters say Feest van samenzijn – Feast of being together (or a similar translation).
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Portbello burger (Or: Another treat from FOAM)

Have a look at what Marco and I had on Friday evening (the fries were self supplied):

Doesn’t that look delicious? That was one of the FOAM @ home options last Friday (Facebook link). The best part? The burger was actually a giant portbello mushroom. The rest of the ingredients were Asian inspired (an Asian guacamole, shredded carrots, and a coleslaw).

The bread rolls were from Lekkerbrood (Facebook link again) which translates to “Tasty bread”. And that it was.

Mysterie: Daarom staan er geen prullenbakken op het Binnenhof from Mystery: Why are there no trash containers at the Binnenhof? Okay, I’ll admit I knew the answer before even clicking on the link – Binnenhof is s a complex of parliamentary buildings. There are no trash containers there for safety reasons; who knows what someone would stuff in them. (For the record, I’ve almost never seen the Binnenhof that dirty.)

Mauritshuis becomes first gigapixel museum in the world at The Mauritshuis, a museum in The Hague which houses Vermeer’s Girl with a pearl earring (and many, many other treasures), now offers its entire collection in Gigapixel sized images so that you can zoom in to impossible depth. Read more about the Second Canvas app which makes this possible over on the official website of Mauritshuis. With that being said, the reviews are a bit mixed over on Apple’s app store, so have a look and decide for yourself if it is worth the (small) price. Hopefully it will receive many updates with additional content.

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Just lights and a sign (Or: No Royal Christmas Fair this year)

A few days ago I walked past the Lange Voorhout, a street with a rich history that spans back to the 12th and 13th centuries (Wikipedia). It is also home to the Royal Christmas Fair and one of the homes of the Rrrollend food festival (the other being Malieveld).

Of course there is no Royal Christmas Fair this year. But there are a few signs out as you can see above. The city also added the usual white Christmas lights to give it a holiday feel. (You can just barely see the light strings in the trees on the left of the photo.)

Balloons as an alternative to fireworks: ‘Still nice to pop’ from (Or try the Dutch version of this article over at

1987 Ferrari pulled from Amsterdam canal to appear in Netflix production from But it is all just for show – the article says it will be scrapped afterwards.

And it is unfortunately still busy today due to Black Friday shopping (where deals seem to last all weekend): Drukte in winkelstraten, in meerdere steden winkels eerder dicht from It is busy in the shopping streets, with many cities closing stores early, around 16:00, give or take. The Hague sent out a tweet at 12:30 today saying it was too busy in the city centre and people should stay away, but for the moments stores in The Hague are closing at their normal times.

(a pretty picture of Bijenkorf’s winter decorations…)
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Black Friday in The Netherlands (Or: Early morning lines)

Black Friday has become popular in the last 5 years in this country. I know it doesn’t make much sense, but who doesn’t love a good deal? (Although whether something is a good deal is questionable at times.) But with corona this year, it was a bit weird to see the city centre so busy.

Here was the line for Uniqlo, a recently opened Japanese clothing store:

This photo was taken just before 10:00, so right before the store opened. I was lucky that I was just passing through and could use the side streets to avoid this area. When I passed the edge of the city centre later in the afternoon it was almost impossible to see through the mass of people shopping here at Grote Marktstraat (, English site). Are the discounts really that important?

Most NL residents don’t care about Black Friday from You could have fooled me.

Still, other cities had it much worse: Burgemeester Aboutaleb sluit winkels in centrum Rotterdam om ‘dramatische drukte‘ from The mayor of Rotterdam (Aboutaleb) closed all stores in the center of Rotterdam because of the ‘massive crowds’. He closed them at 19:10, about 50 minutes earlier than they would be required to close due to corona regulations. Amsterdam and Rotterdam were quite busy all day though (with both mayors issuing warnings to avoid certain areas of their cities early in the afternoon). According to reports the crowd levels were more manageable in Utrecht and The Hague.

Note: the above article does have a lovely picture of the “Koopgoot” shopping area. The nickname “Koopgoot” translates to “Shopping gutter”, owing to the fact that it is lower than the street next to it, although still an open area. It’s a lovely area. Just not on Black Friday in 2020…

Happy weekend, everyone!

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Opps… (Or: I am neither elderly or sick, but…)

This morning I went to a local supermarket to pick something up for dinner. While I usually go to Albert Heijn, this item required me to go somewhere else. Actually, the first place I tried was closed but I kind of figured that would be the case, so I walked on to my second choice.

I was pleasantly surprised to enter a quiet supermarket, only spotting two customers on my quick trip through the store. I quickly found what I needed, checked one other thing and then moved to the cash registers to pay. While waiting for the cashier to appear (it really was quiet) I saw a paper before my nose detailing the opening hours of the store. And then realized that 09:00-10:00, when I was visiting, was actually the weekday ouderuurtje, aka the “elderly hour” where elderly or “immune compromised” persons can visit a supermarket to do their shopping in the quieter hours. That is one of the corona laws the government passed earlier this year. Opps.

I did apologize to the cashier when he walked up, but of course he didn’t care. Probably because it was unbelievably quiet… but still, I know better for next time.

In other news:

Tired of sniggers, Austrian village tweaks its name to Fugging from I assume you can guess what their current name is… but hopefully this way people won’t steal as many of their signs.

Wintersporters blijven met Kerst massaal thuis, ‘nauwelijks boekingen from Dutch skiers are choosing to stay at hore for Christmas, rather than visiting Italy, France, Austria and similar. Although there is some speculation that last minute bookings might still occur. (This is important because the first wave of Covid this spring came from Italy, brought back by Dutch skiers.)

I told Marco about this one; he could only exclaim “Wow, like Pet Cementary!”: Culled mink rise from the dead to Denmark’s horror from The reason is simple, though: they weren’t buried deep enough and when their bodies started to decompose, well, bodily gases caused them to rise back up to the surface. Still, ew…

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Work “goodbye parties” (Or: Corona time addition)

One of Marco’s coworkers is leaving, so Marco’s company has scheduled a virtual goodbye party later this week. But, it isn’t just any goodbye party – each participant received a package in the mail today to give the person a “good send off” during the virtual party:

That’s right, a nachos and beer package! The nacho chips, potato chips and salsa are all Spanish products (or are labeled as such) while you have two Dutch beers from Jopen, a brewery in Haarlem. Apparently there is also an aioli dip, but I didn’t find that until after taking this photo. All the straw underneath reminds me of the leg lamp unboxing from A Christmas Story (link to YouTube).

The gift package itself comes from

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Crazy flavors (Or: Red velvet kruidnoten, anyone?)

Did you notice flavors are getting crazier every year? Marco recently took a photo of some red velvet kruidnoten (English Wikipedia) at Albert Heijn:

Apparently this flavor was the winner of the ‘kruidnoten thuisverkiezing’ or ‘kruidnoten home vote’. I can believe that.

Still, it doesn’t beat the Lay’s potato chip flavor “Baguette with garlic butter”. That was memorable!

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More cancellations (Or: No Elfstedentocht this year)

The Elfstedentocht is an 11 city ice staking race. The length is about 200 kilometers (120 miles) and is held in the north of the Netherlands in the Friesland province. It can most accurately be described as “the event that stops the Netherlands”. Or it would be, if the weather would cooperate. As you might expect, the race can only be held if the ice is thick enough along the entire course. The last time that happened was 1997. There was a glimmer of hope in 2012, but it didn’t work out. This event averages about 2 million spectators.

About a month ago Marco and I looked at each other and thought of the worst possibility ever: that the weather would finally cooperate and there would be an Elfstedentocht… and the coronavirus.

Well, the organization responsible for the event saw the chaos that was about to come and reported that no matter what, there would be no Elfstedentocht. As reports: Elfstedentocht cancelled because of…coronavirus, oh, and the weather. (Since the prospectives of ice don’t look good anyway.)

And here is a fun one:

The city carillonneur played “Paint it Black” from The Rolling Stones on the church bells in Groningen (also in the north of the Netherlands). This is something he does often, but because Mick Jagger saw the video and placed it on his Instagram with 2 million followers, the video quickly went viral. You can read more in Dutch over at Groningse stadsbeiaardier klinkt wereldwijd met Paint it black van The Rolling Stones.

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The days are getting colder (Or: At least it’s weekend)

It seems like lately my only moments of fresh air are during quick trips to Albert Heijn for groceries. But because the quietest time to go is in the mornings, that always happens during my work day so I have to rush. But it is now weekend, which means it is easier to get outside and take a walk. Although it is getting colder these days…

The baby panda born at a Dutch zoo earlier this year is now on display:

Still, I have found something even cuter: the tiny owl that was discovered in the Christmas tree at New York City’s Rockefeller Center ( So cute!

In other news: Netherlands has world’s highest English proficiency for non-native speakers from Not that we didn’t know that one already. I still remember my first trip to The Netherlands, sitting in the train to The Hague at close to midnight, nervously trying to ask something of a random stranger in Dutch (Marco and I wanted to sit near him due to a lack of seats elsewhere). Ha. To this day, I still have people switch to English randomly when they hear my American accent. That’s okay. I just keep talking in Dutch, they get a chance to practice their English, everyone is happy…

And here is an article in Dutch from Rutte waarschuwt ministers voor Twitter-slordigheid na incident met geheime code. In summary, the Dutch ministry of Defense is sitting at home in quarantine. She is attending an online meeting with other defense ministers in the European Union. The problem? She let her assistant take a photo of her, but a Dutch news site spotted the login code and 5 of the 6 digits for the password in that photo. They logged into the meeting and quickly introduced themselves as a Dutch journalist and then left again. They logged into a SUPER SECRET MEETING WITH OTHER DEFENSE MINISTERS. Yikes.

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