Holidays

Thanksgiving in the States (Or: Photos of cold places)

A few weeks back Marco and I were in the States for Thanksgiving. First we went to Chicago to be tourist-y and then Indianapolis to see my folks again. Actually, Chicago was chosen because there are no direct flights from here to Indy, so we usually tack on an extra city somewhere…

Elmo, the Starbucks mascot at Schiphol airport!
Do you see the “miniature” plane on the roof? Cool!

It was a lot of fun, but I had a hard time adjusting to the cold that first day, which was around the freezing point, or just a bit warmer. After doing some tourist-y stuff near our hotel, we went to a Cheesecake Factory to try and keep me awake. This backfired, since the restaurant keeps their lighting so low I can barely see the menu. As a joke (mostly), Marco pulled out his phone to use the flashlight option. A joke, until we realized the couple across the aisle did the same…

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Christmas window displays (Or: Cuteness at Bijenkorf)

Check out this cute window display at Bijenkorf in The Hague:

Bijenkorf Christmas window display, The Hague, 2018

The cutest part is definitely the teddy bears trying to open the fridge on the right (this part was motorized, so the fridge door did open and close).

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A new Christmas decoration (Or: Spotted at Primark)

Last week I bought my first Christmas decoration, this one at Primark. Marco and I usually buy 1-3 small things a year. I couldn’t resist this cute face and bell…

Christmas decoration at Primark in The Hague, 2018.jpeg

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Oliebollenkraam sighting (Or: Temporary move from Spui to Grote Markt)

Public service announcement: please note the very awesome and tasty oliebollenkraam on the Spuiplein (which has its own Facebook page!) looks to have relocated to the Grote Markt this year:

Location of the Spui oliebollenkraam, The Hague, 2018

This is because of all the construction at the Spuiplein (article in Dutch, with photo), which seems to take over more and more space every week.

The Facebook page for the oliebollen stand says it should open on November 2nd. This is a very popular place to buy oliebollen. Oliebollen (literally “oil balls”) are sort of like donut balls, without any holes. They are typically served with raisins inside, unless you are a heretic like me that eats them plain. Here’s a look at how long the line gets on New Year’s Eve, back in 2014. This stand is popular! Or check out this 1 minute video.

And for the public transportation aficionados reading this (haha), the bus driving past is the old model – it is bus 61, which is a temporary line to take over tram 1 at least through the end of the year. They are busy doing work on the Scheveningseweg.

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Kruidnoten (Or: The state of Christmas this year)

Back in 2013 I wrote a blog post called Kruidnoten (Or: Christmas comes earlier every year). That post mentioned how kruidnoten (Wikipedia) were readily available after September 1st. This candy is traditionally seen in the month of December, both for the Sinterklaas holiday on December 5 as well as Christmas.

This year they were definitely available by August 23, when this photo was taken in a local Hema. Heh.

Kruidnoten by Hema, August 2018.jpg

I give it another 5 years, and then they will be available everywhere by August 1st.

(And in case my parents are wondering, yes, we’ll bring some the next time we visit.)

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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…

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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.

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Reester bunny (Or: Chocolate and eggs everywhere)

Today Marco and I went to Kelly’s Expat Shopping here in The Hague. It’s a great store for American and British food and a store I’ve blogged about before. The one thing I get almost every time is Ritz crackers. Yum! Snagged another box today…

I was quite amused by the “Reester bunny” you could buy:

Reese's chocolate bunny (Or Reester bunny)

Their Easter selection is pretty good when it comes to chocolate, I must admit. Lots of Cadbury eggs.

Pop or soda for 10 euros - 12 pack

Did you know it costs 10 euros for a 12 pack of pop/soda? And that’s a discounted price! Back home you could get it for 2/$5 during the right sale. Of course, that’s just how it goes when you’re an expat so far from home.

And here is a fun photo from the Albert Heijn XL on Elandstraat:

Chocolate easter eggs for sale at Albert Heijn XL, The HagueAnyone need any chocolate eggs? There are lots of flavors to choose from… But still, it doesn’t compare to the Reester bunny. Don’t you just want to nibble on those ears?

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Bijenkorf in The Hague (Or: Holiday decorations, 2017)

I was looking through my photos from last month and realized that I hadn’t posted my photos of Bijenkorf yet!

Christmas lights Bijenkorf, The Hague, 2017

Holiday lights (the same every year, but always pretty!)

Bijenkorf does different window decorations every year. A lot of businesses in The Hague take part in holiday window displays (see the TINK competition).

Christmas window display, Bijenkorf, The Hague (2)

And this one:

Christmas window display, Bijenkorf, The Hague (1)

This year the Christmas tree was rather simple, at least compared to previous years:

Christmas tree, Bijenkorf, The Hague 2017

It was of course as tall as ever – the base started at the top of the ground floor, with the peak reaching to floor 5. As evidenced by the escalators at the left…

Christmas ornaments, Bijenkorf, The Hague, 2017

Check out the Coke and Diet Coke can ornaments in the upper right. I especially like the slightly ‘frosty’ look. Cute!

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Fireworks! (Or: The Hague exploded last night)

I found a cool link on Youtube of last night’s fireworks, taken from above the city with a 4K drone. It lasts about 5 minutes and is not to be missed!

Here’s a look at our ‘Christmas table’ on the second day of Christmas:

Christmas table 2017.jpg

Yes, we were streaming a fake fireplace through Hulu!

In the glass was a raspberry spoom (sorbet ice cream). Yum! The two bottles were purchased at The Hague’s Royal Christmas fair.

But seriously – go back and check out that video. It does a good job of showing how crazy the Netherlands can get at New Year’s Eve.

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