Last month I spotted a Lego display at Intertoys here in The Hague. As you might expect, Intertoys is a (chain) toy store.
A photo of the Christmas tree at the local Media Markt here in The Hague:
Media Markt is “the” electronics store of the Netherlands, a chain that started in Germany. According to Wikipedia, it’s the largest electronics retailer here in Europe, and the second largest worldwide after America’s Best Buy. The one thing to get used to is that most or all of the stores are franchises, so the price might differ between stores.
Media Markt is also known as the place to go during the BTW-vrij week, which usually happens around the end of January. BTW-vrij = Media Markt deducts the taxes from the price so you don’t have to pay it.
Merry (2nd day of) Christmas!
Captured at Albert Heijn, the local grocery store:
Lots and lots of wine bottles… someone must have had a party! This is by the bottle return area (the bottom part pictured here is for returning a beer crate), so I assume wine bottles don’t have a deposit on them. I am not much of a wine drinker (besides the occasional prosecco) so I’m not sure.
Still, kudos to them for leaving them behind without making a mess. Although it does mean work for Albert Heijn to get rid of them.
This past Friday was ShoppingNight in The Hague. That’s when all of the shops in the city centre stay open until midnight. About half offer either discounts or treats to get you into the store. I had previously posted about this event back in 2013.
This year Marco and I partook in a free ice cream cone (Marco) and a slush puppy (me) over at Media Markt. Outside of that we visited a few stores, notably C&A and Hudson Bay, to see what they had offer.
There was also entertainment:
It’s strange to be shopping so late – but it’s also a lot of fun. If you don’t mind crowds, of course…
The shopping area ‘Haagse Blue’ is a sort of courtyard in the center of The Hague, enclosed by four streets: Dagelijkse Groenmarkt, Venestraat, Vlamingstraat and the Nieuwstraat.
This shopping space opened in 2001. Here’s a look at the entrance from Venestraat (by the corner of De Tuinen / Holland & Barrett):
Blue signs mark the entrance, but if you don’t know about it, it can be easy to miss. The entrance by Dagelijks Groenmarkt (and the Grote Kerk) is easier to spot.
Here’s a look at part of the Valentine’s Day at Xenos (a discount store):
If you need candles or flowers, you’ll definitely in luck…!
I also took a picture of this cute snow globe. Inside you have the iconic Dutch clogs:
Not that we have much snow at the moment. After a week of cold, we have (relatively) warm temperatures, at least through the weekend. And of course, rain…
But we’re past January – it can only get warmer from here! In theory.
On Thursday evening Marco and I went to Marks & Spencer for a coffee. In November of last year the company had reported that they would be closing the two Dutch stores, along with other international stores, in a cost-cutting measure. But The Hague store is still open… with no additional details about exactly when it would close.
So… still open for now. Not that I am complaining! I really like their coffee.
It must be January again! Every year since I’ve been here, Media Markt has had a sale where they pay the taxes (Dutch: btw, short for belasting toegevoegde waarde) so you don’t have to.
Thursday, January 26, 8am – Sunday, January 29
This year’s BTW vrije dagen (tax free days) start this Thursday at 8am and last through Sunday. Well, the stores are open from 8am. If you really want to avoid the crowd, you can purchase items online from midnight onwards. And there is a crowd! It’s not quite like America’s Black Friday shopping, but it still makes me want to leave almost right away. If you plan right it can be fun, though.
Last year Gemeente Den Haag (e.g. city hall) created a video showing a time lapse of the construction around the Grote Marktstraat. It is just under 3 minutes long. Among other places, it can be found on YouTube. It’s kind of cool to look back and remember all the craziness the construction caused…
Grote Markstraat is the large shopping street in The Hague which has been under construction for the last few years. There is an event on Thursday night (Den Haag verlicht) to mark the completion. The final act will be turning on the lights (literally – the lights were just hung up last week). They will be turned on around 20.45. There will also be music, dancers, DJs, drum bands and food trucks. Oh, and the shops are open until 22.00 (although on Thursdays they are usually open until 21.00 anyway).
And here are some more photos from Boston. The first is a sculpture found in Boston Common, Make Way for Ducklings:
And a photo of the Boston public library:
We also went to the JFK Presidential Library (well, we just went to the museum). It was a lot of fun, and now I can say I’ve visited a presidential library!
And a look at the JFK presidential library from inside:
After that we visited the Edward M. Kennedy Institute which is a building right next to the JFK library. The institute was opened to the public last year and is used to teach the public about the inner workings of the senate. It includes a to-scale replica of the Senate Chambers where mock votes are held every hour for visitors to participate in (our mock vote was regarding the minimum wage law currently in consideration). The replica chambers sit in the middle with displays around it. Since it was just completed, tablets are used to provide additional information and to interact with the displays. It’s quite modern.
Until next time!
A few weeks ago Marco and I went to MegaStores. We mainly wanted to visit Woonexpress XL, a furniture store like Ikea where you have one path with different sections of the home along the route. At the end of the path is the storeroom with the larger items seen along the way (like shelving, drawers, etc.) for you to take. Beyond that you have the cash registers and the exit.
And what is MegaStores? It’s basically an indoor mall (a rarity for the Netherlands, unfortunately) full of mostly furniture shops. Marco and I both find it a bit disappointing as having only furniture shops definitely limits its appeal. I’ve only been there a few times myself, with one of those times to buy our two couches from Sanders. Of course, you do have some other generic Dutch stores here (Xenos, Kruidvat, Hema and similar) but since you can find them anywhere, there’s no great need to go here. Except that it is indoors, always a plus during bad weather.
One of the interesting highlights is a wall decoration of “Haagse hopjes”, a coffee candy made in The Hague. They are delicious. You can get them almost anywhere, including the VVV tourist branch in the The Hague public library’s central branch. Or cheaper at places like Xenos, but most tourists do not realize that.
I’ve posted about MegaStores before, with one post about how Dutchies tend to visit furniture stores on Easter Monday or to show the awesome escalator layout (and one VERY ugly rug – seriously, you’ve been warned).
One final thing – MegaStores also has interesting toilet facilities from a company called 2theloo. You can see pictures of some of the toilet stalls at Megastores. Each toilet stall has a different “theme”. Each visit costs €0.60, but keep in mind a lot of toilets in the Netherlands charge at least €0.50 and unless you are eating at a restaurant or some cafés you will have to pay. In this country most toilets are maintained by an outside company.
I haven’t had to use 2theloo, but if I ever do I’ll be sure to write a blog post about it and let you know which “theme” I chose. Haha.