Recently Marco took a photo of the bike parking outside of Hema:
This was at the start of what is normally evening rush hour, as everyone heads home from work. Normally this area would be packed with bikes, crammed so tightly together that it would then be impossible to remove your bike once you returned from your shopping trip.
The area is normally so full that it there are ‘bike coaches’ which help you park your bike. Or bike coaches that stand around all day talking with each other… one of those two is true. Although one time I did see one of the coaches help an older lady diagnose a problem with her bike, so that was nice to see.
But still: the strange times continue, with no end in the near future.
The government launched a campaign today called ‘alleen samen’ which can be translated as either ‘only together’ or ‘alone together’. Basically reminding us that we are together in this – even when we must undertake so many actions alone (article in Dutch).
It feels like a lifetime ago, but a few weeks ago (13 March) I was browsing in Hema. I could not resist snapping a few photos of their chocolate egg collection:
Some of the flavors included dark chocolate banana cream, white chocolate matcha lemon, milk chocolate cookies and cream (that one was almost empty), milk chocolate orange, milk chocolate coconut, milk chocolate peanut butter… I definitely learned that everyone’s favorite flavor is milk chocolate, not dark chocolate.
There was also a display near one of the entrances.
But the best (and most Dutch) flavor was…
You guessed it… Stroopwafel flavored chocolate eggs!
The Hague is home to many pieces of art, especially in the city centre. One of those is is called Heaven holds a sense of wonder by the artist Femke van Wijk.
It is a bronze sculpture created in 2011. You can find it on the Kalvermarkt – to the right is the Kalvermarkt-Stadhuis tram stop and in the background is the Primark retail store. In the distance is the Grote Marktstraat, a large shopping area.
The main railway operator in The Netherlands, the NS, has announced that from Saturday their trains would be running a ‘basic service’ schedule. This means that most stations will only have two trains per hour, except in cases where there was only one train per hour – that will stay the same. Most trains will be sprinters (stop at every station) with only a few important north/south and east/west lines having intercitys (stop at important stops only).
This was expected – on Friday public transportation usage dropped 50% in comparison with a normal day. From Monday there were 85% less travellers.
The picture above is of the tram tunnel underneath the Grote Marktstraat this past Saturday afternoon. There’s almost no one on the other side, which is unheard of even late at night.
HTM, the bus and tram service of The Hague has also published the changes that have occurred or will occur (information in Dutch). On Friday HTM began blocking off the first door for all buses and all trams where it was relevant. Travelers need to use a different door to enter and exit, in the hopes that contact between travelers and drivers is as limited as possible.
Over the weekend Marco, Roger and I went to Shabu Shabu in The Hague, an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant. It was my first time; Marco and Roger went to the chain in Amsterdam once. It’s similar to Sumo, the restaurant where I tried sushi for the first time and where I used chopsticks for the first time (spoiler: I’m getting better but there are some things where I find it easier to just use my fingers).
Of course I’ll take any chance I can get to photograph flowers.
All of the ordering is done via a tablet, including drinks, extra wasabi and extra ginger. Pictured above is some wasabi which you receive at the start of the meal.
Sushi! From left to right: salmon, tuna, Japanese peppers with tuna and, last but not least, crispy mango.
The round that did us in (I probably shouldn’t have ordered the chicken curry rice bowl at the bottom). In the back on the left is shrimp and on the right is spicy Korean chicken. Below that is the remains of teriyaki salmon. Middle left is two gyoza’s (chicken dumplings) and middle right is eel and shrimp? sushi. At the bottom is the chicken curry rice bowl, as mentioned.
Shabu Shabu also has an unlimited dessert buffet – I went simple and just had chocolate and vanilla ice cream. But you also have donuts, chocolates, bonbons, spekkkoek and more. Yum.
It was a lot of fun, and ordering with a tablet made the experience much better. You could even request to close your bill with the tablet. This helps, since I am always annoyed by how long it takes to close your bill at most Dutch restaurants. I do understand it’s a cultural difference between here and America, though. Here in The Netherlands they don’t want you to feel as if you are being rushed through the meal.
Over the weekend Marco and I went to the Coolblue store in The Hague. Coolblue specializes in consumer electronics and only had an online presence — that is, until a few years ago when they started opening a few physical stores in The Netherlands.
I would describe it like an electronics store crossed with an Apple store – sure, they sell stuff but they also want to show off their stuff and let you browse around. The store has a minimalist feel, with a lot of empty space. And you can even get free tea and coffee. Generally I go to the online store to browse, and I only visit the physical store if I know exactly what I want. I haven’t tried the free tea or coffee quite yet. If I do I’ll let you know how it tastes.
But last weekend I had to take a photo of the floor.
Yeah – you heard me, the floor.
In the television department they have guides showing you how large each tv size is. They even thoughtfully provided a centimeter guide as well (which is logical since televisions are of course listed in cm here). I’m not quite sure how helpful the guidelines are—I think it would have been better to put each measurement next to each other and start from the same spot—but the thought is there.
I can just imagine someone grabbing a television off the display and dragging it to the guide area to double check that the television they were looking at was indeed 50 inches. Leaving scratch marks in the floor along the way…
I had a pistachio cheesecake, while Marco’s was tiramisu flavor. With our usual cappuccino (his) and coffee (mine).
And a new one for us: last month we went to the Buitenhof movie theatre. Not to see a movie, but to sample their coffee and desserts at their café/restaurant.
This one was also pretty good, but I was glad that we decided to share. The carrot cake we had was quite sweet with all the layers of icing. While I don’t normally think of carrot cake as a healthy option, this one was definitely the farthest from healthy that you could get.
But it was a good enough cafe, and thankfully they had room. We first considered going to Hometown Coffee, which was recently renovated, but both times we went we were unable to find a seat.
Last week at Albert Heijn I spotted a Tony’s Chocolonely display filled with Easter eggs. The company’s mission is to make fair trade chocolate. (The company’s slogan is: “Crazy about chocolate, serious about people“.)
The cutest thing was these mini egg cartons:
And of course the Easter candy started popping up a few weeks ago already. You can never be too early!