Holidays

Happy New Year! (Or: Oliebollen time)

Happy 2023, everyone!

Marco and I made oliebollen a few days ago. It’s a donut-like snack that you fry in oil and then cover in powdered sugar.

Of course, purists would say that donuts took their inspiration from oliebollen, not the other way around.

I also purchased some apple beignets from the oliebollen stand at the Grote Markt yesterday. New Year’s Eve is the busiest time of the season for oliebollen stands; this particular one opens at 06:00 on New Year’s Eve.

Here is a look at some photos of the New Year Eve’s fireworks above The Hague, from regio15.nl (article in Dutch).

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Sweet treats (Or: Van Delft store in The Hague)

Earlier this month Marco and I visited the Van Delft store in The Hague. They are well-known for their stroopwafels, kruidnoten and pepernoten.

Here is a look at their store setup this year:

Above: a look at some of the kruidnoten flavors they have on sale.

A close up look. Think of flavors like intense orange, disco dip, white chocolate, dark roasted coffee, etc. I bought a bag of the dark roasted coffee flavor. Yum! Of course, kruidnoten are a treat for Sinterklaas (5 December) so they aren’t being sold at the moment.

In other news

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10 years in the Netherlands (Or: Can you believe it?)

Today marks 10 years in the Netherlands! Wow. I almost can’t believe it. Although maybe that sounds a bit too negative – I do love living here and don’t miss living in the States.

Here was my post at 5 years. I didn’t bake cookies this time for my coworkers like I did last year (delicious, soft, chewy lemon cookies. Yum.) Maybe next time. A lot of coworkers choose to work remotely and only come in once a week, so it can be hard to know when there are enough coworkers around to share in the sweets.

I have visited the Royal Christmas Fair a few times this year already though (just like 2017). Once with Marco right when it opened and once with coworkers. The fair runs through 22 December this year and sells a mix of crafts (like nativity scenes, candles, ornaments) and food (like sausages, raclette. crepes). Oh and also some very tasty mulled wine. Although we call it by its German name, glühwein.

Above: a look at some of the nativity scenes for sale at one of the stands.

In other news, here is the most random thing that happend today: Marco and I were flipping through the channels this afternoon and we came across an infomercial selling very sharp kitchen knives. Strangely enough the original presenters were speaking English, but it was dubbed in German and for good measure subtitled in Dutch. It was a bit hard to watch. Normally you would just get the original programming, English speech and all, with Dutch subtitles underneath. We don’t dub anything in this country.

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Spotted at Bijenkorf (Or: 2022 Christmas tree)

Here is a look at the Christmas tree at Bijenkorf’s department store this year:

And of course, I’m not that big a fan of heights (this Christmas tree is about 3-4 floors high), hence the railing in the middle. That was about the closest that I wanted to get when photographing it.

Bijenkorf’s Christmas tree in 2021 (not that different from this year’s really)

Bijenkorf’s Christmas tree in 2019

Bijenkorf’s Christmas tree in 2018

and back in 2015, with more decorations than it has now. It looks like they have scaled back in recent years.

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Holiday lights at De Passage (Or: A place to shop at, a place to get warmer in)

De Passage is an outdoor, covered shopping area in the city centre. There are no doors, but if you want to get a bit warmer you can head to the middle of it where the cold outside air almost doesn’t reach. Almost…

Here is a look at the holiday lights on top of one of the entrances. In the far distance down the hall you can just see the Christmas tree sticking out. They lit the tree lights for the first time on 1 December. It is definitely starting to feel like the holidays now.

Here is the store list for De Passage.

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Sinterklaas-themed window displays (Or: Spotted at Bijenkorf)

Bijenkorf is a high-end department store comparable to Macy’s in the US. Every year they hang up some gorgeous holiday lights and they decorate their store front windows for Sinterklaas (5 December holiday) and Christmas. The lights went up in early November this year, even before we left for New Year City. Here’s a look at a few of their Sinterklaas themed windows.

You can tell it is Sinterklaas because the child in the middle is holding the staff of Sinterklaas. What’s a Sinterklaas party without fashionable clothes and lots of gifts? Speaking of which, if you want to make sure kids in The Hague and Amsterdam area have gifts to open on 5 December, consider donating to Sintvoorieder1 (official website in Dutch). During their latest toy drive they received about 47,000 gifts for 22,500 children which is just awesome. The link is from omroepwest.nl in Dutch.

Happy Sinterklaas (in advance)!

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That is one sweet boat (Or: Sinterklaas display by Hema)

By the Hema in The Hague’s city centre there is a display for the upcoming Sinterklaas holiday (5 December):

The display is a boat, a reference to the boat Sinterklaas uses to travel from Spain to the Netherlands every year in November (English Wikipedia). The actual contents of this boat are kruidnoten, small cookies which are a staple for the Sinterklaas holiday.

In other news:

  • Megastores helemaal gesloopt voor nieuwe woontorens from omroepwest.nl (article in Dutch). Megastores is a shopping mall on the other side of The Hague’s Holland Spoor train station. However most of the stores sell furniture or home goods, so the number of shoppers has been dwindling over the years. The article talks about how the entire shopping mall will be demolished in phases starting in 2024, to be replaced by about 2,000 apartments in residential towers.
  • The Zeldzaam mooi markt will be at the Lange Voorhout in The Hague on Sunday, 27 November. The name translates to something like “Rare, beautiful market”. They will be selling retro, vintage and reuse items like jewelry, clothes, home goods, etc.
  • You can donate Sinterklaas presents for kids at The Hague’s Central Library from 14-18 November (indebuurt.nl, in Dutch). The toy drive is sponsored by Sintvoorieder1.
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Sinterklaas (Or: HTM’s newest tram driver?)

I kid, I kid.

Sinterklaas (a figure based on Saint Nicholas) will be arriving in the Netherlands from Spain on Saturday, 12 November. This year he will be arriving in Hellevoetsluis, which apparently is a city in South Holland. Who knew? English Wikipedia apparently. His arrival in Hellevoetsluis will be televised. But on the day (or around the same day) he arrives in pretty much every Dutch city. How, you ask? Magic. He is Sinterklaas after all.

He will also be arriving in The Hague on Saturday, November 12, in the Scheveningen haven. But this year, due to all of the road work going on throughout the city, he will be taking the tram! And as indebuurt.nl reports (in Dutch), you might even see him driving the tram. But first he needs to take a driving lesson before he is allowed to do that.

The full list of places he will visit can be found at indebuurt.nl. The parade starts at 12:30 at Vissershavenweg and ends at Lange Voorhout at 17:05. If all goes to schedule, that is.

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Somewhere it must be Christmas (Or: Decorations at TK Maxx)

TK Maxx is a European apparels and home fashion store. And if you are American and wondering if this is the same company as TJ Maxx, why yes, yes it is.

This company thinks it is Christmas already:

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mind at all. I just find it a bit funny. And by the way, all of the things you see on the racks in the picture above are Christmas soap dispensers. Including the dog with the red sweater on the second highest shelf.

Maybe we skip straight ahead to Christmas in this country because Halloween isn’t that big here and Thanksgiving doesn’t exist. Although the Netherlands does have the Sinterklaas holiday (English Wikipedia) on 5 December, so who knows.

I have to admit these are cute: little wooden sleighs with a few packages and a mini Christmas tree. However, the packages must have been little mini bricks as the decoration was way heavier than I expected when I picked it up.

Anyone else spotting Christmas decorations popping up in stores?

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A day to sell all of your stuff (Or: King’s Day)

So last time I talked about King’s Night, which is when you go to music festivals, drink overpriced beer, and dance like a maniac. Oh, and try to avoid being pickpocketed–apparently the police found a 13 year old and 20 year old with a bag full of 21 stolen telephones on King’s Day (article in Dutch over at omroepwest.nl). Sheesh.

In contrast, King’s Day itself is about selling cheap stuff. This is the one day a year it is legal for anyone to sell their old furniture, toys, books, you name it. Well, anything except food. Almost all cities ban that. I didn’t get any photos of these vrijmarkten (free markets) this year, but check out my post from way back in 2012 (!). Back when it was Queen’s Day, before she abdicated the throne and became Princess Beatrix. Marco took those photos for me since I was till living in America back then.

One thing I did get photos of was the flower sale at the Lange Voorhout. It was quite colorful, and not just because of the flowers:

These juichcapes (cheer capes) were sold by the grocery chain Jumbo last summer when there were a lot of high profile sporting events going on (Tour de France, Dutch Grand Prix, UEFA Euro Cup, etc.).

Lots of color here too!

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