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Food halls (Or: Haagse Bluf in The Hague)

Food halls have only recently become a “thing” in The Netherlands, lets say the last five years. A few examples I have been to include the Markthal in Rotterdam and MingleMush in The Hague. Apparently MingleMush re-opened today! I’ll have to schedule a (safe) visit, as it has been too long… It looks like they are open Tuesday through Saturday, 12:00-21:00.

Another food hall Marco and I still need to visit is the food hall in the Haagse Bluf, an upscale shopping area in the centre of The Hague:

It’s a great place to walk through, with very photogenic areas. Just click the tag “Haagse Bluf” at the bottom of this post to see more. My favorite photo was of the red scooter, but the photo of the iced chai tea at the end of this post serves as a great memory for me. We only had it a few times before Kaldi stopped selling it. It was delicious!

In other news:

  • It’s official: Amsterdam to London direct train without Brussels stopover now ready from nltimes.nl. Now it only takes 3 1/2 hours to get into London by train (from Rotterdam)! Considering how long you’re waiting around in an airport, that’s pretty good.
  • The Netherlands now reports deaths and hospital intakes on a weekly basis on Tuesdays. RIVM reported 19 Covid-19 deaths and 9 hospitalizations in the last week (from nltimes.nl), although due to delayed reporting not all of those were in the last week. They can say that 5 deaths occurred between June 28 and July 5, and two of the hospital admissions occurred after June 30. There were also 432 positive cases reported.
  • ICU intakes are (for the moment) still reported every day at lcps.nu. There are currently 24 Covid-19 patients in the ICU, with a low of 18 last week.
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The taste of durian (Or: Spotted at the local Asian store)

The inspiration for this blog post: last month I mentioned a news article from The Guardian about a durian fruit causing the evacuation of a German post office. Apparently it is a very divisive fruit. You know how I know that? I wanted to check my spelling of “divisive” so I typed in “divisive fruit” into Google, and durian was the top result. Hmm.

Are you in the camp that thinks it tastes like rotten eggs or gym socks? Or do you find it tastes of almonds, a bit creamy? (If you have ever had it, that is. Apparently it can be hard to find if you’re not in Asia.)

I didn’t realize it might be at the local Asian store until I saw sweets on the shelves:

That doesn’t look too bad, does it? Or these cakes:

But the fruit itself is indeed available at the local Asian store, as long as you are willing to try the deep freeze version. (I know, deep freeze is never as good as fresh.) Amusingly the page only describes it as having a “pungent odor”, which sounds… more bearable than it probably is in reality. Or you have another version which might be easy to break open.

I’m not sure I’m up for buying the deep freeze versions to start with, but maybe I can purchase a snack or two first and see how it goes…

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Coconut cookies and books (Or: A visit to Lebkov)

This afternoon I spent a few hours at Lebkov in The Hague, something I hadn’t done for a while. I have had takeout coffee from Lebkov over the last few months but this was one my first time sitting down. Well, there was one exception: I did meet a coworker there shortly after the rules were relaxed to allow customers to dine-in again. It was strange. We did not stay that long.

I purchased a coconut cookie, which was tasty, soft and slightly sticky on the inside. I also brought a book along, Night Train to Lisbon, although I ended up fiddling with Affinity Designer on my tablet instead. While I just started the novel last week I am enjoying it. It’s a bit dense (in a good way) so I’m glad I am reading the English translation and not the Dutch one. These days my reading habits seem to be me alternating Dutch and English with every book, which is fine.

In other news:

  • The Amsterdam zoo posted a video on YouTube of their newest baby elephant enjoying its first bath.
  • Would you like to see a pink limousine stuck on a Delft canal bridge? Then check out this Reddit thread.(And really. Who wouldn’t want to see that?)
  • You can also follow the Twitter account of Winston bureaukat (@Winston_topkat) for adorable photos of a local police station’s cat.
(“Look at me being so cute! You’ll just need to overlook the fact that I’ve destroyed half the station!”)
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Waiting for the tram (Or: Summer days)

Yesterday I took a picture of a group of riders waiting for the tram at the front of The Hague Centraal:

It looks a bit chaotic with not enough distance between passengers, but in any other year except 2020 this would have been 3 or 4 times more crowded, as tram 9 is the tram to the beach. So this is actually a vast improvement.

As noted, today there may or may not be activity at the Malieveld due to the Viruswaanzin or “Virus madness” demonstration that was (for a second time) banned by The Hague mayor. You’ll never guess what the police confiscated last night:

sidewalk chalk (!).

Or read the article from regio15 (in Dutch): Politie neemt stoepkrijt in beslag bij het Malieveld. I think that is going too far – if you check the pictures the persons were drawing lots and lots hearts and writing ‘vrijheid’ and ‘liefde’ (freedom and love) occasionally. There are still chalk messages on the paths around Malieveld about Black Lives Matter and ‘Racism is not just an American problem’, which is true. According to the police the problem isn’t the demonstrators so much as the other people who plan to come, including football hooligans. That was the case last week, but only time will tell if that is the case today.

On an interesting note: officially sidewalk chalk was banned on all public surfaces before 2017, even if little children were drawing. But that rule was never really enforced. You can read more in Dutch at nu.nl: Gemeente Den Haag heft stoepkrijtverbod op.

And finally, the police are already starting to warn people to stay away today: Politie waarschuwt eerste betogers die naar het Malieveld zijn gekomen (ad.nl).

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Beer and chicken (Or: Zwarte Ruiter in The Hague)

Today Marco and I went to the Zwarte Ruiter in The Hague. It is one of the bar/restaurants on the Grote Markt. Since I took a vacation day today we were able to go a bit earlier in the day when it wasn’t too busy yet.

My beer (the Blurred lines on the left) was definitely fruity! It had citrus, passion fruit, peach, pineapple and mango.

In other news:

  • Do you remember the country-wide issue with the emergency number 112 last year? They released a report this week about what happened and the unique set of circumstances that made it even worse. You can read about it in English at nltimes.nl or in Dutch at nos.nl. One of the worst mistakes? They sent an NL-Alert to everyone which said the police were contactable on WhatsApp via <phone_number>. That phone number was incorrect; it was actually a number for the tip line by De Telegraaf, a Dutch newspaper. Yikes!
  • Van der Sar: play big Eredivisie games in second half of season from dutchnews.nl. It’s a good article if you’re into football/soccer – it talks about moving the big matches to after the winter break to adjust for a lack of home advantage, since stadiums will not have fans right away.
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Viaduct art (Or: Hofvijfer mural by Centraal Station)

Have you seen the murals by the entrance to the Centraal Station yet? There are murals painted on both sides of the tram viaduct (used by trams 2, 3, 4 and 6) which you can view from the tram stops outside of the station.

Check out this mural of the nearby Hofvijver:

As I walking into the kitchen this morning to start breakfast I heard a loud BAM! A bird flew against our back window, or at least the door frame between the two windows. Either way, I found it lying on its back twitching, rolling from side to side in an attempt to get up. But it was pretty obvious it wasn’t going to last long; within 5-10 minutes it was dead.

After waiting the appropriate time to make sure it was dead (and admiring an unexpectedly beautiful patch of blue on its wings), Marco carefully used a broom to push it into a box and place it into the waiting garbage bag (which is itself was put into a second garbage bag). We disposed of it in one of the public trash containers on the street.

And that is our tale of “…at least the window didn’t break…”

Categories: The Hague, Transportation | 2 Comments

Modern stone (Or: Primark building in The Hague)

One of my favorite additions to The Hague in the last five years is the building that houses Primark. Primark is a budget department store which attracts customers in droves (I used to see tourists walk past holding 4 or 5 bags each). I took another photo of the building recently:

I love the color of the stone and the angles of the apartments above. And of course the blue skies definitely help.

In other news:

  • There’s a chance of a heat wave next week, with temperatures expected to be around 30C or 86F on Wednesday and Thursday. I know some of my American readers would go “Pffft! That’s nothing!” but keep in mind air conditioning is pretty rare in the Netherlands. And a lot of people are now working from home, so no office climate control for us! Time to break out the big fan.
  • The Hague forbids weekend protest festival against Covid restrictions from nltimes.nl. This was another group who wanted to protest at Malieveld. Originally there were supposed to be 100 attendees but then the organization decided to turn it into a ‘festival’ of sorts, altering speakers and DJs, so the expected attendance rose to 10,000. Considering festivals are banned at the moment, it’s no wonder that this demonstration was also banned. The decision was made by the mayor of The Hague this morning and the group then turned to the courts to get the ban overturned. The courts ruled earlier this evening that the ban could stay in place.
  • MOJO en Vodafone lanceren streamingplatform largerthan.live from vodafoneziggo.nl. MOJO (a ticket seller) and Vodafone (an internet and phone company) are together launching a streaming platform so that those with a virtual ticket can watch certain performances live from the Ziggo dome in Amsterdam. Fans can watch from their mobile devices or broadcast to the tv. They can also choose what camera angle they want. The most interesting point: at the moment the two companies say the streaming opportunities will continue even after things get back to normal. That could be interesting.
Categories: The Hague, Shopping | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Pork ramen (Or: Another Marco creation)

Is anyone interested in some pork ramen? Here’s the dish that Marco made for dinner tonight:

There is no way that I could remember all of the ingredients but some of the highlights are: pork, buckwheat noodles, red ginger shavings, sea weed sheets, baby corn, spring onions, black and white sesame seeds and a soy-marinated egg (the egg being the one ingredient I skipped). He created the broth basis last night, expanding on it tonight. There’s even a bit of lime in it, to give the broth a slight sourness (yum). My favorite was the red ginger shavings.

In other news:

  • Public broadcaster apologises for ‘k**wijf’ comment from rattled subtitler from dutchnews.nl. Opps! This was a live interview that was simultaneously subtitled “on the fly”. Apparently the speaker was a bit rattled and spoke too fast, which caused the subtitler a lot of issues. So the subtitler decided to call her the term you see above. While the link describes it as “stupid cow”, I would say it’s closer to b****. So yeah… opps?
  • Fewest Covid-19 patients in ICU since March 12 from nltimes.nl. There was a small increase last week that lasted about 3 or 4 days, but luckily it didn’t last long and the numbers started to decrease again.
Categories: Food | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Coffffeee (Or: A cappuccino by Lebkov)

What can I say? I didn’t like coffee growing up. I actually didn’t start drinking it until after grad school, when I used to live in New York. Two things happened to change that:

  • Marco and his mom took a trip out to New York to see me, but I was warned she liked her coffee first thing in the morning. And since my previous residence was on the top of a very steep hill, walking to the nearby deli every morning was not an option. So I bought a cheap one-cup coffee maker. (Maybe I didn’t like coffee back then, but I did love smelling the fresh coffee grounds.)
  • In 2011 the Halloween nor’easter hit, which brought lots and lots of snow. Easily up to my knees. But the bigger problem was the lack of power: my apartment lost power for 3 or 4 days, which meant it was bitterly cold within a day inside my apartment. Let’s say it was something like 50F / 10C, but I don’t remember exactly anymore. I do remember that I spent the last night at a coworker’s because I just couldn’t get warm enough. And that cold in my bones stuck around for weeks. I started drinking coffee shortly thereafter to warm up and then once I moved to the Netherlands it became part of the evening routine.
Cappuccinos by the local Lebkov café. Yum!

In other news:

  • Good news! Diego the tortoise, father to hundreds and saviour of his species, finally retires from theguardian.com. Diego was one of 25 giant tortoises released from captivity recently. With his species threatened with extinction (he was one of only two males on his island, along with 12 females) he was moved to California’s San Diego zoo back in the 1960s. There have since been 2,000 giant tortoises born from a breeding program, with estimates saying that Diego was responsible for 800 of those young! Wow. He has been returned to the island he left as a teenager.
  • And continuing the animal theme, here is a YouTube video from the Dutch safaripark Beekse Bergen, where a extremely rare sort of deer was born late last month:

These sort of deer don’t live in the wild anymore, and there are about 1,500 in captivity (from 16 at its lowest).

Categories: Everyday purchases | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Face masks in trams (Or: New experiences)

Before this weekend, the last time I was in a tram was 13 March. Three months ago. I would have considered that unheard of before this corona pandemic started.

However on Friday morning I took tram 17 to Rijswijk after the morning rush hour. I’ve ridden at that time before, so I fairly certain it would not be busy. And I was right – it wasn’t. (Whew.)

It wasn’t too special, except that I almost forgot to check in. It’s definitely been a while. Everyone wore a face mask as required. And boy, did I have to get used to wearing one! I was glad to not have my glasses on otherwise I would have to worry about them fogging up. But it was instantly warm and I instantly wanted to take it off. But I survived. I can’t imagine wearing one at every moment that you are outside, but I know a lot of countries require that.

I also took the tram on Saturday, this time tram 3, for the blood donation appointment I wrote about yesterday. That one was fairly empty at 08:20 when I went to the appointment, but was definitely busy when I came back around 09:45. It’s nothing compared to the pre-corona traffic, and was still at acceptable levels for social distancing, but it still felt weird.

In other news:

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