Eye catching (Or: BlowUp Art in The Hague)

This past May The Hague was host to an art festival called BlowUp Art. The festival was an initiative of Pulchri Studio. I previously wrote a blog post about the sculptures they had placed on the Lange Voorhout.

Here is a look at one of the six creations featured in the BlowUp Art festival:

This piece is called “Crested” and it was created by Steven Messam.

In other news, the Netherlands will get to experience its first mini heat wave this weekend! Temperatures are expected to be around 30C or 85F here in The Hague. Time to find my sunscreen…

Dit weekend zomerse temperaturen: meer openbaar vervoer naar stranden from Translated: This weekend summer tempatures: more public transportation to beaches. For instance, HTM here in The Hague will be running the Strandexpress tram (=beach express), with limited stops between the Holland Spoor train station, Centraal Station, Madurodam and the beach. And of course it won’t be enough as everyone will descend on the beach with their car, bike or feet!

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New competition in The Hague (Or: Dirk supermarket)

We now have a Dirk supermarket in The Hague city centre, since this week. It is at the Torenstraat (Tower street). It is in the location where Rock Palace used to be, a store where you could buy all sorts of musical instruments including guitars.

There isn’t much supermarket competition in The Hague city centre. Everywhere is Albert Heijn, with a few Jumbo supermarkets here and there. But now we also have a Dirk (pronounced Dyerk, with a bit of a y sound).

Marco and I decided to visit this weekend. The first thing we saw was this sign:

Translated, it reads “By Dirk you don’t need to horde groceries to get savings”. Although the verb to horde, hamsteren, will always make me think of the corona pandemic, where people were warned not to horde groceries and supplies when the pandemic first hit. Most people didn’t listen.

The store technically should have cheaper prices, although most of the products are the same as other supermarkets. The location is a bit on the small side with narrow rows that quickly cause congestion issues. But the worst part is that they only have one cash register with a worker and four self-service checkout points. Definitely not enough in the weekend or during prime time hours. The space for the self-service area wasn’t designed that wisely (the Jumbo in the city centre has six self-checkout points in half the space, for example). But it might be a good location to visit during the quieter hours, maybe.

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Rrrollend food truck festival (Or: Enjoying the sun)

We finally have some good weather here in the Netherlands! Unfortunately “good weather” in this case is about 19-20C, or 64-68F. But we take what we can get.

This past weekend was the Rrrollend food truck festival, this time by the Hofvijver. I am not sure if this is the first time that it was held there; usually it is at the Lange Voorhout or by Maliveld. People were enjoying the weather. Some were even sitting by the water, although maybe that was just to find a good seat — it was pretty crowded there after all. But dangling your legs over the water is a nice way to enjoy the sun.

A few weeks earlier Marco and I were at Anne & Max, a (chain) café found throughout the Netherlands. Check out the cool pattern on the cappuccino:

The cake in the background was a lime cake, but it was a bit drier than expected. It was still a fun time with Marco, though.

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Flags at half mast (Or: Remembrance Day and Liberation Day in the Netherlands)

A few days ago I found myself near the Peace Palace in The Hague. This was on 4 May, otherwise known as Nationale Dodenherdenking or National Remembrance of the Dead day. You have a few monuments to the war near the Peace Palace. One of them is The Hague Resistance and Liberation Memorial which commemorates those who lost their lives in The Netherlands during WWII. Here is the official website for the Memorial (in Dutch).

And on 5 May the Netherlands celebrates Liberation Day, which in comparison to the more somber Remembrance Day is a day for festivals and celebrating one’s freedom. A lot of cities hold festivals on 5 May.

Pictures from the festival in The Hague (at the Malieveld), in Dutch at

And because I couldn’t not take a photo of it, here is an impressive looking tree which is also near the Peace Palace. It is huge! I would love to sit under its shade and read a book for a while.

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King’s Day in The Hague (Or: Flags everywhere)

Today is King’s Day in the Netherlands. At the very least, it is a nice day off! It celebrates the birthday of King Willem-Alexander, although most people use it as an excuse to head into town and enjoy a lot of good music and alcohol. (Seriously, walking into the local supermarket, the first thing on display was six-packs of beer. They know where their money is made!)

Dutch flags on display for the holiday with the Grote Kerk (“Big Church”) in the background.

You can also check out the King’s Day Google doodle. The doodle celebrates tompouces, a pastry which is normally pink. Unless it is King’s Day, and then it is bright orange.

Chilly but sunny start to King’s Day after a busy night of partying from The day before King’s Day is known as King’s Night and most of the major cities have music festivals. For instance last night The Hague had The Life I Live festival in the city centre.

There are two main activities on King’s Day: 1) The king and his family always visits one city each year. This year was Rotterdam. 2) A lot of cities have “free markets” (Vrijmarkten) which is basically a huge garage sale – one day a year everyone in the nation is out selling things. Or buying things. On that day people can clear out all of their junk and old items and sell them in specifically designated spots in each city.

Here is a live blog from NOS (the national news channel). It is in Dutch but at the very least you can check out the pictures to get a sense of how crowded it was/is!

And here is the live blog from the local news service, Omroep West, also in Dutch. But Google Translate is your friend. (And mine too, sometimes.)

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Healthy birthday cookies (Or: Is there really such a thing?)

Tomorrow is my birthday and I decided to spend it going to work. Eek.

Actually, yes, but I am taking Friday off. Part of the reason I am going in tomorrow is because it is the monthly post-corona “common office day” where everyone is asked to come in so we can remember what we look like in person. (I kid, I kid. I see most of my coworkers once a week.) Since everyone is in the office together tomorrow we decided to do a potluck lunch. Aka a lunch where everyone brings something in.

Since I am not much of a cook, I decided to bake cookies. Unfortunately, I am not much of a baker either, so Marco was of great help there.

I chose a recipe for oatmeal cookies with banana (no sugar added):

This was originally a Dutch recipe (original website). As happens every once in a while, I had to look up what havermout is. Apparently it is quick cooking oats, which just brings up childhood memories of my parents eating oatmeal for breakfast.

The recipe contains quick cooking oats, raisins, almonds, cinnamon powder, baking powder, banana and apples. I chose Granny Smith apples as those are nice and sour, and I added some lemon zest for a flavor contrast.

I am not going to lie. The cookies look a bit ugly, but I made them (with a lot of help from Marco!).

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April Fools in The Netherlands (Or: Tulips that fight back)

As usual, there were a lot of April Fools jokes made yesterday in The Netherlands. Here are a few examples:

Unfortunately it is just an April Fool’s joke. Tourists are notorious for trampling tulips just to get the perfect selfie. In response to this The Tulip Barn in Hillegom created a “selfie garden” in 2021 to allow visitors to take photos in a specially created area, complete with Dutch props. That is pretty cool, actually.

The tweet below is in Dutch, but it basically says that elevator accidents caused by drunk passengers have increased by 24% since 2020. Therefore, the Lift Instituut in The Netherlands has banned elevator use by people who have had more than two glasses of alcohol (thereabouts).

And finally, if you’re an international living in The Netherlands with a bike, prepare to get a biking license…

I guess it is a good thing I don’t have a bike, right?

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Optical illusions and mind bending art (Or: The year of Escher)

The Hague announced that in 2023 The Hague will “be the city of Escher”. M. C. Escher was a Dutch graphic artist born in June 1898, 125 years ago. To mark the occasion, exhibitions have been scheduled at the Escher museum and Kunstmusuem.

You probably know Escher from his impossible staircase (English Wikipedia) or his self-portrait in a reflecting sphere. One of my favorite jigsaw puzzles that I have worked on is Day and Night. I am really looking forward to when I can do that puzzle again.

The Hague’s city hall currently has a huge display honoring the artist:

It reminds me of the tribute they made in the same spot for the Dutch artist Piet Mondriaan back in 2017.

In 2023, The Hague will be the city of Escher (from the official website of The Hague)

The exhibit “Escher – Other World” is being held at the Kunstmuseum through 10 September 2023.

The Escher exhibition” is being held at the Escher Museum through 1 October 2023.

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Almost time to vote (Or: Provincial Council and Water Board elections)

On March 15, the elections for the provincial council and for the water board will be held. As a foreigner I can only vote for the water board. But a vote for the water board is also an important vote. As you probably know, one third of the Netherlands is under sea level and a large chunk of it is prone to flooding. Each of the 20 municipalities has its own water board, and they can decide things like how water should be used recreationally, what the policy is for low income residents, what investments should be made in nature, etc.

Okay, I am going to admit that it still sounds a bit boring, but it is still a useful thing to do and it only takes a few minutes to vote! (Unless perhaps you choose to vote at iconic locations like the Tweede Kamer or the Kunstmuseum, where the line might get a bit longer. You can even vote in the Amare in the city centre this year. Go for it if you have the time. If you’re registered in The Hague you can choose the location you want to vote at.)

Why you should vote for your local water board? A dijkgraaf explains all from

Voter information from The Hague’s official website, in English

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Experience Spring (Or: Time to watch some bird webcams?)

And now for something different…

Dutch bird protection organization Vogelbescherming has set up web cameras in and around various nests in the country. It is part of an event called Beleef de lente or “Experience Spring”. You can check it out at their homepage. If a camera is active it will be marked “live”, otherwise it is marked “Binnenkort” or “soon”. You can also collapse the chat window on each web camera to get a larger picture.

I especially like the Slechtvalk (peregrine falcon) camera as you get a lovely view of Amsterdam in the background. The bird is nesting in the clock tower in the Rijksmuseum. You can also switch the camera at the top left of the feed, choosing either Rijksmuseumrooster (the view of the city) or Rijksmuseumbinnen (the view inside the nest).

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