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After four years (Or: Pearl Jam back in the Netherlands)

This week shall officially be dubbed as ‘Pearl Jam week’ as they had three shows in the Netherlands. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Ziggo dome and Saturday at Pinkpop, a huge outdoors festival. The last time they visited was four years ago, which I was a bit shocked by.

Pearl Jam in the Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam, June 12 2018

The first night four of us went: Marco, myself, Roger and my mother-in-law. We had fan club tickets, specifically standing tickets, which meant we could go in a half hour before everyone else. It does have the downside that you need to pick up your tickets the day of at the box office as you are required to show an ID, though.

We arrived around 2:30. Let’s just say the line for getting the tickets was over an hour and the line for merchandise was about an hour and a half… So we did some divide and conquer: Roger and Marco got the tickets, while my mother-in-law and I got the merchandise – posters. There are unique posters for each Pearl Jam concert (Marco and Roger got them all).

Tuesday’s poster | Wednesday’s poster | Saturday’s poster

Marco also picked up a new ‘Safe travels‘ keychain, to replace the one he got about ten years ago.

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Categories: Friends&Family, Marco&Niki | Tags: | 4 Comments

Buying an OV-chipkaart (Or: Your ticket to freedom)

The OV-chipkaart (OV=openbaar vervoer=public transportation, chipkaart=chip card) is used throughout the Netherlands as a means for paying for a public transportation journey, be it train, tram, bus…

The card is used to check in and check out by holding the card against a reader as the traveler enters and exits the vehicle. Useful, but it can cause delays at some of the more crowded stops. When I travelled to Dublin I was intrigued by having the check-in and check-out machines at each of the stops rather than inside of the vehicle – it saves some boarding time that way, although the costs are higher for having machines at every stop.

The OV-chipkaarts expire after 5 years. Ironically, all of this household’s OV chipkaarts (5 in total) expired within a few months of each other. But this gave me the opportunity to visit the HTM-service desk at The Hague Centraal, which I hadn’t yet had an excuse to do.  And of course I dragged Marco along to experience the fun.

HTM brochure for traveling with an OV chipkaart

Information booklet for traveling with an OV-chipkaart, with information in Dutch, English and German. Handy for the tourists!

It was around 16:30 on a workday, and already fairly busy inside the service area. The area is serviced both by HTM as well as by NS, the national train company. We didn’t have to wait too long to get helped. Each card costs €7.50, before adding any funds on it. Luckily the HTM worker mentioned that the option to use the card to travel by train (NS) needed to be added manually, otherwise we would have been in for a surprise!

In this case we asked for anonymous cards (the blue variety) which can be used by anyone. There’s a few minor differences between those and personalized cards (yellow variety) – the main difference being that personalized cards can be automatically re-filled when they hit a minimum amount, for instance. But generally anonymous cards work fine.

Marco and I also both got information booklets on traveling with an OV-chipkaart, as you can see above. Not strictly required, but always fun to read (for me!).

Categories: Transportation | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Five Guys (Or: Just a few days to go!)

It’s official – Five Guys opens this Monday in The Hague!

Five Guys location in The Hague

Categories: Food, The Hague | Leave a comment

Friday night cuisine (Or: Homemade beef noodle pho soup)

So… Friday night Marco and I made beef noodle pho soup. Marco was inspired by the chicken pho soup he had at Little V here in the Hague.

Some highlights for giving the broth depth: a whole onion burned over the stove oventop, entire pieces of ginger, cinnamon sticks, and similar. Slow cook it for a few hours, then strain it…

But the coolest thing about this dish? The beef is cut into thin strips and placed into the bowl. You then pour the broth over it to near-instantly cook it:

Cooking beef strips with a hot broth

And here is a look at the final dish, with spring onions, julienne carrots, coriander, chives, bean sprouts and red peppers…

Homemade beef noodle pho soup

And a bonus picture of a salmon curry (with accompanying naan bread) that we made last week:

Salmon curry with naan bread

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Almost there (Or: Five guys coming to The Hague)

Did you know Five Guys is coming to The Hague? And not five guys, but Five Guys Burgers and Fries. This American chain will be coming to the city centre at Spui 10, just a few doors down from the KFC and near the Centrum tram/bus stop. It is not open yet, but it looks to open any-day-now.

They sell burger, fries, milkshakes, and… wait, beer? That’s quite Dutch and not something you would see in the American locations.

What do you need to know about Five Guys?

  • they have a free-style coke machine for endless drink options
  • the burgers have set prices, regardless of the amount of toppings
  • they offer free peanuts-in-the-shell to eat while you wait for your order

I was excited to see this photo from Marco:

Five Guys construction site in The Hague 2

And this photo is from earlier in the week – more signage is now visible behind the construction walls. They are very close to being done, so hopefully an opening date is announced soon!

With all of the above being said, I can fully see why Amsterdam refused to give Five Guys a license to open there (article in Dutch). Amsterdam is trying to reduce the amount of fast food options, not expand them. It’s possible that Five Guys can adapt their concept to better qualify (more seating, no counter service, more time to eat) but even that isn’t a guarantee.

Categories: Food, The Hague | 2 Comments

SUN! and music (Or: Bevrijdingsfestival in The Hague)

The Netherlands is enjoying a rare dose of sun this weekend! And like all good Dutchies, this means going outside to a café or restaurant and baking under the sun for a few hours.

Flowers at the Hof House in The Hague

Flowers at the Hof House https://www.hofhouse.nl

This afternoon Marco, Roger and I went to the Bevrijdingsfestival in The Hague. Bevrijdingsdag, or Liberation Day, is celebrated on May 5 each year. The day commemorates the end of Nazi occupation during World War II. The day before, May 4, commemorates the Remembrance of the Dead.

Bevrijdingsfestival in The Hague, 2018

One of the music stages at the festival

Bevrijdingsfestival music in The Hague, 2018

Another music stage, in the background. The woman in yellow is receiving a ‘Dutch kiss’ (the custom where you kiss each other on the cheek three times to say hello or goodbye).

Vrijheid display at the Bevrijdingsfestival in The Hague, 2018

Vrijheid = Freedom

And do you see what the letters are made of, above? Juliper beer crates! (Juliper is one of the sponsors of the event.)

Now if you excuse me, I will go back to basking in the sun…

Categories: Holidays, The Hague | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

King’s Night and Day (Or: Carnivals, festivals, and more)

The Netherlands celebrated the five year reign of Willem-Alexander Thursday night and Friday, with King’s Night and King’s Day. I can’t believe it has been that long. I still remember seeing the live, breaking news of Princess Beatrix abdicating the throne (video with English subtitles). I had barely been in the Netherlands a month, and was watching the news without having a clue what she was saying. There are no subtitles on live TV unfortunately…

First, we’ll start with the carnival at the Malieveld which is held every year around this day:

Carnival ride at Maliveld, The Hague, for King's Day

I could probably handle this ride.

Carnival ride at Maliveld, The Hague, for King's Day 2

Nope. Won’t be going on this one. It was pretty cool to watch though.

And then you had The Life I Live festival in The Hague, held every year on King’s night. A dozen or so music stages are set up throughout the city centre.

Stage at the King's Night party in The Hague

A smaller stage

Stage at the King's Night party in The Hague 2

Here is a much larger set up, at Het Plein (literally ‘the plaza’)

Buitenhof fountain during King's Night in The Hague

The fountain at Het Buitenhof, with the Ferris wheel from the previously mentioned carnival at the Maliveld in the background

Tram on King's Day, The Hague

And finally, a historic tram passing by during King’s Day on Friday

I still need to buy something orange for King’s Day. I’ve managed to not do that in the 5+ years I have been here. Related, amusing blog post about orange clothes and King’s Day: The King Size King’s Day T-Shirt blog post over at the Invading Holland blog.

Categories: Holidays, The Hague | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

New York City – Dutchified (Or: Ravensburger puzzle, 1000 pieces)

For Christmas I was gifted a Ravensburger puzzle from Roger. It was made from a good quality – even using “soft lock technology” apparently. I found it interesting that the puzzle used a dark blue backing instead of the light gray backing that most puzzles use.

Ravensburger puzzle - New York Cities of the World 1000 piecesThere were two minor weird things with this puzzle:

  1. There is a part of the actual puzzle that doesn’t match the box it came in. Look in the lower left with the lady in green – in the actual puzzle she leans over to the right, worried because the man behind her is choking on a herring. On the box, she panics a bit and falls backward because the seller is shoving a herring in her face.
  2. There was an extra puzzle piece that did not fit anywhere. The puzzle itself is done, and has no gaps. You can see it in the photo below, to the left of the actual puzzle.

Ravensburger Cities of the World New York close up

If you’re looking closely, you’ll notice that the puzzle itself is within a flat case. The exact model I have is Jumbo luxe puzzelkoffer – 1000 stukjes. It makes for really easy storage. There are two additional panels which are shown in the link which you can also use to store pieces on top of. When you are ready to store everything, you put the panels on top of the puzzle to create a tight fit so that none of the pieces move. You could even store the work-in-progress horizontally. I have successfully tested this but normally store it vertically.

I am of course already working on my next puzzle

Categories: Everyday purchases, Friends&Family | Tags: | Leave a comment

Voting at city hall (Or: Local elections 2018)

Today Marco and I visited city hall after work to vote for the local elections:

Voting sign in The Hague city hall

To the voting area!

The Hague has 286 places to vote if my math is correct. Unfortunately the Central Library wasn’t a place you could vote this year. You could vote in a special tram (link in Dutch) however. I would have loved that. But it’s not a tram line I’d ever take, and it was running as a normal tram at the time. Imagine missing your stop!

Line of voters at The Hague city hall, 2018

Pictured: about half of the line

It didn’t take us too long – about 10 minutes at the most to get to the front of the line.

Number of voters by hour, The Hague, 2018

Live updates of the percentage of voters who had already voted, by hour

Admittedly, the number of voters is lower than 4 years ago when it was 51% at the close of voting (9pm). As of 8:15pm now it is 45.2%. The results are not expected until around midnight, give or take.

Categories: Daily Dutch living, The Hague | Tags: | Leave a comment

First time voter in the Netherlands (Or: Local elections tomorrow)

Tomorrow most of the Netherlands goes to the polls for local elections. This will be the first time I can vote in the Netherlands! This is because I have lived in the Netherlands for five uninterrupted years.

Here is a picture of my stempas (voting card) with personal information greyed out:

Stempas or voting pass for The Hague, 2018

The card arrived in the mail a few weeks back, automatically. In the Netherlands every person is required to register with the municipality in the Basisregistratie Personen (BRP)  or the Personal Records Database. I did that within a few days of moving to the country. It records life’s big moments – birth, marriage, divorce, and death, along with address changes. The database is used to determine who can vote for what. (In my case, I can vote for the local elections but I will never be able to vote for anything higher unless I obtain Dutch citizenship.)

There are some good sites available for voters, both in English and in Dutch. In this case, I tend to seek out information in English due to the nature of what I am reading, but I also supplement it with information in Dutch. For example, DutchNews.nl has some information and links available for expat voters.

There are, of course, various polls available to see which party matches your interests the best. For example, Stemwijzer Den Haag (knowledge of Dutch required).

Finally, here’s a look at what the ballot looks like.

Categories: Daily Dutch living, The Hague | Tags: | Leave a comment

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