On Wednesday the Netherlands will have their parliamentary elections. The primary parties include VVD (liberal), PvDA (labor), PVV (far right), CDA (Christian Democrats) and more — way more. The Netherlands has many choices about who they want to vote for. The parties are so fragmented that no one party can lead – even if you get the majority, you still need to form a coalition with at least one other party to get a government going. Forming a coalition can take up to three months at times! Unfortunately for me I can’t vote – you need to be a Dutch citizen to vote in these elections.
Check out a a list of parties here:
A list of about 10 or so parties (from left to right) with the various members in each listed from top to bottom
This huge piece of paper is mailed to each household. On the back it lists places to vote:
Locations where you can vote – though you are not required to vote in at a fixed location
What makes this election interesting is the inclusion of Geert Wilders, who is more aptly known as “the Dutch Trump”. His party (PVV, of which he is the only official member) advocates for the Netherlands leaving the EU in a sort nexit. He would have the country spend more on defense and less on wind power and foreign aid. He is also very anti-immigration. The Guardian has a very nice article covering the Dutch election and why it is so important – not just for the Netherlands but also for the EU.
Last week Marco and I visited the Grote Markt tram stop for a hidden gem: a 1616 city map recreated in the floor tiles and glass display cases of artifacts uncovered while constructing the tram tunnel.
The Grote Markt and Spui tram stops are found underground in the center of the city and service lines 2, 3, 4 and 6. The tram tunnel was a solution to the overcrowding of trams and cars above ground – once the tunnel was complete, the trams moved underground and cars were banned. These days only pedestrians and bikes are allowed. Of course, various problems caused the tunnel’s opening to be delayed 4 years and the cost was €100 million more than planned, but it did eventually open with much fanfare.
Looking at the area from above (from the bridge which spans both platforms)
If you want to see the recreated city map and the artefacts, visit the Grote Markt tram stop (the entrance is by the statue of Haagse Harry!). Take the stairs underground and you’ll find yourself by a bridge above the platforms. Look left and you’ll see the city map in the ground on the same side you came in on.
A look at the city map – with two HTM controllers walking away (controllers check to make sure you paid for your trip).
The 1616 map is also recreated on the wall, with the area where the tunnel would be built highlighted. During the tunnel’s construction, the surveyors were pleased to see how accurate the 1616 map was for stating where foundations and walls could be found.
Over the weekend I posted about the side of the city hall in The Hague being turned into the largest Mondriaan design in the world. This was to honour the 100th anniversary of the art movement De Stijl.
But the city did not stop there… they also put in colored blocks on the Hofvijver!
Marco and I were remarked that it looked like a video game… just try and jump between them, with rules like ‘blue blocks last 4 seconds’ and ‘yellow blocks last 2 seconds’ before falling into the water. Just to keep you on your toes, of course!
Categories: Culture, The Hague
The city hall of The Hague has been repainted in the colours of Piet Mondriaan! Check out the photo I took this morning:
Pretty cool, right? The artwork is celebrating 100 years of the De Stijl art movement, which was founded in 1917 in Amsterdam. Piet Mondriaan (or ‘Mondrian’ after he dropped one of the a’s in his name) was well-known for his work with primary colors together with the colors black and white.
In the coming weeks other buildings will receive the same treatment, including the nearby Pathé Spui movie theatre, the Bilderberg hotel in Scheveningen and the Hofvijver in the center of the city.
If you are interested in seeing Mondriaan’s art, head over to the Gemeentemuseum (= city museum). With over 300 pieces, they have the largest Mondriaan collection in the world. They were closed today to prepare for the new De Stijl exhibit. They will reopen tomorrow, with tomorrow (only) featuring free entry to see the exhibit. If you have time you should check it out!
Categories: Culture, The Hague
This picture is from last week, from the nearby city of Rijswijk. Unfortunately the Netherlands is currently warming up again, so most of the ice has melted.
Marco reported that there were no… accidents… or falling through the ice while he was watching. Since Friday it has been warmer, so the chance of skating on natural ice is pretty low until it turns colder again.
A touch of color enters the world…
Even though it is only January, sometimes it can feel like spring. Especially in Amsterdam! Yesterday was National Tulip Day, the third Saturday in January. It’s the official begin to the tulip selling season, and to celebrate this the tulip growers bring 200,000 tulips in crates to the Dam Square in Amsterdam. Once everything is set up around 1pm, anyone can enter and get pluck a bouquet of tulips for free. Expect to stand in line for a few hours, though! After about 3 to 4 hours, all tulips have been plucked.
First, a link in English, with a stunning time-lapse video from 2015, including the setup. And a link in Dutch, with photos of 2017 Nationale Tulpendag, including photos from above which show the overall design. I find it a nice touch that the design for 2015 is different than 2017.
Speaking of tulips, I took some photos of flowers on sale at an Albert Heijn in The Hague:
A bushel of flowers
This year we are celebrating New Year’s Eve at Roger’s. One of the most important parts of that (besides hanging out with friends, of course!) is “gourmetten”. Below is a picture of all of the gourmetten foods Roger purchased for the evening, although we already know we won’t be able to eat everything.
“Gourmetten” is a Dutch tradition of frying meats and (to a lesser extent) vegetables on a small grill on the dinner table. You can see pictures of the gourmet grill in the 2015 New Year’s Eve blog post I made. Roger purchased a new grill for 2016, so I will try and take some photos of that in action. I can’t wait!
As my last post suggested, Marco and I visited the Rijksmuseum a few weeks back. Here are some of the photos I took. First, a guitar made in the style of delfts blauw:
Now look at the picture again, but this time focus on the top of the guitar. That is a bit unnerving!
More delfts blauw:
A painting illuminated from the back with lights:
And finally, a look down at the Rijksmuseum library:
I’ve always loved taking photos of spiral staircases. Pretty!
From a few weeks back, when Marco and I took a day off to visit Amsterdam:
Note the “I am Amsterdam” art installation (climbable at your own risk!). Besides the Rijksmuseum we also visited the American Book Center, an English language bookstore, and Eichholtz Delicatessen, a great store for American (and international) candy and snacks.
Earlier in the month I requested a new passport from the American consulate. Not because my old passport was expired (I had another 4 years) but because I wanted to change my last name to my married name. Yay!
I must say that the process definitely seemed confusing at first. Of course, you need an official copy of the marriage certificate as evidence that you are married, which you can request from city hall. But when I received the marriage certificate, it said that my last name after marriage was still my maiden name. It turns out that in the Netherlands your last name is still your maiden name, but you can use a different last name in certain circumstances. You need to tell city hall what your preferred last name is and then any organization which gets your data from city hall’s records will use it unofficially (Den Haag article).
But since I got married a few years back, this information slipped my mind. So imagine my shock when I received the marriage certificate and it said that my last name was still my maiden name even after getting married. What! But after speaking with the American consulate it seems they are quite used to this – just send the information, they said.