Culture

A ride of gold (Or: Golden carriage to be on display at Amsterdam museum)

Have you heard of the Dutch golden carriage? It was in the news this week See also this dutchnews.nl article: Gouden Koets may no longer be used on budget day amid slavery controversy. The gouden koets or golden carriage is one of two carriages the King has at his disposal. Traditionally it makes an appearance at least once a year at Prinsjesdag, which happens on the third Tuesday each September – next week, then.

Gouden koets verlaat het binnenhof / Golden carriage leaves the Binnenhof. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

On this day the King takes a carriage ride from the Dutch Noordeinde Palace to the Ridderzaal in the Binnenhof before delivering a speech to the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives. Normally the golden carriage is used for this carriage ride, but they also have a backup glass carriage. This is a good thing because the golden carriage is currently being restored (it was gifted to Queen Wilhelmina in 1896 after all!). Once the restoration is complete the golden carriage will be on display at the Amsterdam Museum next year from June to November.

That means it will not be available next year for Prinsesdag in September. However that seems to be the plan all along due to some unexpected controversy. One of the door panels depicts a racist scene, with dark-skinned persons bowing and offering gifts to a white woman. There’s also the thought that since millions of euros were spent of this restoration it is probably better that it not be used during the parade anymore. We shall see.

Luckily they still have the glass carriage at their disposal…

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Of course there’s a book for that (Or: The first corona novel is spotted)

Here in the Netherlands we already have at least one corona related novel, a novel that I spotted earlier this month at the library. The theme is about two strangers, both writers, who meet each other at a vacation park and start to fall in love amidst the chaos of corona, social distancing, quarantine and hoarding. But I decided not to check it out, thinking that anything written that fast can’t be good. And I’m not a big fan of romance novels anyway, even if it’s only a side theme.

And you know what the crazy thing is? When I was looking up a review of Quarantaine I found one dated 15 May 2020 from Het Parool. 15 May! That’s just over two months, three at the very most, from idea to publication – that’s insane. The reviews over at bol.com (like Dutch Amazon) are a bit better, at least. It gets four stars over there. But still. Romance? No thanks.

If you read Dutch, I’ll recommend instead Het Station by Joris van Casteren. Joris spends some months at Amsterdam Centraal back in 2014 or so, gathering stories of conductors, security guards, passengers, cleaners, the homeless and more. It was quite interesting but that’s probably because I’m a fan of trains and trams and metros and… you get the idea.

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“Out is inside this year!” (Or: UIT festival in The Hague)

The UIT festival is a cultural festival normally held on the Lange Voorhout in The Hague, about a 5-10 minute walk from the city centre. Uitgaan in Dutch means “to go out”. This year, due to the coronavirus, the festival was renamed to “Binnen uit”, or “Inside uit”, referring to the fact that the cultural events will mostly be held inside this year. Reservations are also generally required.

If you are interested in reserving tickets for one of the cultural institutions, you can read more information over at the UIT festival website. Here’s an example: Around the Grote Kerk, a carillon concert from the Tong Tong Fair. In that case no reservations are needed since the bells can be heard over a wide area.

And behind the promotional material in my photo you can see work being done on the building. A Japanese clothing store with the name Uniqlo will open in October of this year.

…Can I have my Marks and Spencer back instead please? They had good food and coffee! I still have an incomplete stamp card for a free coffee, darnit!

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Willem II on horseback (Or: A statue reborn?)

Today’s photo is of the Willem II statue by the Buitenhof:

There’s some interesting tidbits with this statue.

  • Before 1924 a different statue of Willem II was in this spot (link to Dutch Wikipedia). For unknown reasons The Hague government wanted to instead install a replica of a statue found in Luxemborg: still Willem II, but on horseback. The original statue at the Buitenhof was sold to Tilburg for 1000 gulden (the equivalent of about 7,500 to 8,000 euros today). This replacement is recorded at the base of the statue in the photo above.
  • In the early 1990’s The Hague government wanted to install a “freedom carillon” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of World War II. The bells would have either been placed quite close to the statue or in the statue’s very spot. Part of the problem was that the bells would have been 25 meters (82 feet) high, which might have been too jarring in that area. Momumentenzorg Den Haag has some scans of news articles from the 1990’s covering the situation, if you speak Dutch. But in the end the plans for the “freedom carillon” were thrown out (article from cobouw.nl).

As expected, the weekly coronavirus numbers from the RIVM were a bit high: about twice as many cases as last week (987 compared to 534), 19 hospitalizations and 7 deaths. But not all of those were numbers from the past 7 days, at least.

Outside of that, it’s mainly keeping on top of work during the day and relaxing at night. But the work days do go by quick, at least!

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Anniversary year (Or: 150 years of Bijenkorf)

Bijenkorf is a Dutch department store which opened its first store in Amsterdam in 1870. 150 years ago! To celebrate this, they scheduled a year of celebrations in 2020 (thehagueonline.com). For example, there are unique shop windows (Bijenkorf always has beautiful holiday windows), unique merchandise to buy, guided tours, events to attend…

The only problem – which you can see coming with the date of March 10, 2020 in the article from thehagueonline.com – is the corona crisis rearing its ugly head. The carefully scheduled events and tours now read tijdelijk niet beschikbaar or temporarily not available.

In other news:

  • The Dutch corona app will be called CoronaMelder (nltimes.nl) and will use Bluetooth. CoronaMelder translates to Corona Reporter.
  • Kuikentjes bevrijd op de Oude Trambaan from regio15.nl – baby chicks fell through a pedestrian bridge and couldn’t get out on their own. They were ultimately freed by firemen who removed a few of the bridge planks to reach the chicks.
  • The Guardian has a very interesting article called ‘Landscape of fear’: what a mass of rotting reindeer carcasses taught scientists although that topic admittedly isn’t for everyone. But there’s an informative tie-in with the Dutch Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve (where thousands of animals ended up starving due to a lack of predators in the area) and the ultimate changes to the ecosystem which occurred because of the abandoned carcasses. This caused a great amount of controversy in The Netherlands because it was a conscious choice not to feed the animals to help them survive the winter.
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Time to steal some cows (Or: Random side street in The Hague)

I’ve always wanted to write a blog post about this street!

Every time I walk past this street I have to laugh, but it seems so silly. The name of the street is Koediefstraat, which translates to Cow thief street. Hahaha. I’ll admit I had images of someone dragging an unwilling cow down this street while being chased by an unhappy army of Dutchies wielding pitchforks. But alas, the reason is a bit different.

If you go to the Haags Gemeentearchief website (The Hague city archive) and search for Koediefstraat, you’ll get two results for from the Straatnamencollectie, or the street name collection. The street had a few different names in the last 500+ years. One was Kromme Poten or Crooked legs but I’m not sure why. It was also named Wijnstraat or Wine street for a while due to the winery in the area. Another name was Burenstraat which was a reference to someone living in the area in the 1650s: Jacob van Buuren.

But the current name, Koediefstraat is likely a reference to Adriaan Janszoon Colijn whose nickname was Coedyff, which had a similar pronunciation to Koedief.

Also interesting to note: the painting on the side of the wall appeared recently; I don’t remember seeing it before. It caught my eye and reminded me that I wanted to do a blog post over the street name. There was no trace of it on Google Maps, whose most recent image was from June 2018.

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Stay Strong (Or: Haagse Harry signs in The Hague)

As I’ve noted previously, Haagse Harry is a comic book character created by Marnix Rueb. Here’s a statue of the character unveiled in 2014 after Rueb’s untimely death. Remember most of the text you see below is phonetically spelled in The Hague’s own dialect. I have a lot of trouble reading it, which always makes Marco laugh.

In these corona times, banners have appeared throughout the city centre from the Dutch group Fan Support Den Haag (Instagram | Facebook).

It says in the middle:

Stay strong Hagenen (The Hague residents). Anderhalve meter = 1.5 meters

The shirt on the left says Mijn hart behoort aan Den Haag = My heart belongs to The Hague

The shirt on the right says 1 team, 1 taak = 1 team, 1 task

And a banner above the Bleyenberg restaurant.

Ik wil mijn bier en vreten, dus laten we de horeca niet vergeten! = I want my beer and food, so let’s not forget the restaurants and cafés! Although ‘vreten’ is more a verb for eating, but you get the idea.

As noted last month, I love the dutch word horeca which is simply a shortened form of ‘hotels, restaurants and cafés’ (ho-re-ca).

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The beauty of The Hague (Or: Unseen flowers)

As with most places in the world, beauty is blooming and yet there is no one around to see it. But this is where technology can help – be it cameras or drones. The first example is Clingendael, a Japanese garden situated in The Hague. I actually haven’t visited yet, partially because it is only open for a short time in the spring.

The second place is Keukenhof, not too far outside of The Hague. I mentioned it a few weeks ago in this blog already. It is a large tulip park, open for a few months in the year. Last year they had 1.5 million visitors. This year they weren’t even able to open before the crisis took hold.

The latest video they posted was of the violinist Rosanne Philippens playing during a sunrise:

They post videos of Keukenhof every few days – check out their YouTube channel for more.

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Art in the city centre (Or: Heaven holds a sense of wonder)

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.

A close up of the crown:

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In plain sight (Or: Squatting in Amsterdam)

On Friday Roger, Marco and I went to Amsterdam to see a performance of The Book of Mormon musical. Along the way we spotted a building that definitely wanted to be noticed:

“Kraken” is the Dutch translation of squatting, or taking over a building or residence currently not in use. Squatting in the Netherlands goes back to the 60s (Wikipedia). “Kraken gaat door” means that the squatting hasn’t stopped, regardless of the action the government takes against them.

The musical was held at Amsterdam’s Carré theatre. It’s a beautiful theatre, though a bit disconcerting if you have a fear of heights.

I was thinking about how cool that backdrop would be as a background on my iPhone.

And above is a look at the seating, although I have been at places with even steeper seating arrangements. The best part was that the row in front of you was rather far down, so you don’t have to worry about someone tall in sitting in front of you.

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