Shopping

Shopping in style (Or: The Haagse Bluf)

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.

haagse-bluf-in-the-hague-google-maps

This shopping space opened in 2001. Here’s a look at the entrance from Venestraat (by the corner of De Tuinen / Holland & Barrett):

haagse-bluf-entrance-at-venestraat-the-hague

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.

walkway-to-haagse-bluf-from-venestraat-the-hague

A somewhat faded sign for the shopping area

french-riviera-fountain-in-the-haagse-bluf-the-hague

Fountain from the French Riviera; behind it is the tea-and-coffee company Kaldi. I’ll always remember them fondly for the one day they had iced chai latte! It was so delicious.

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Candles and flowers (Or: A Valentine’s Day display at Xenos)

Here’s a look at part of the Valentine’s Day at Xenos (a discount store):

valentines-display-by-xenos-in-the-hagueIf 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:

snow-globe-with-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.

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Marks & Spencer (Or: Still open, still looking forward to holidays)

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.

cafe-at-marks-and-spencer-the-hague

A look at the cafe on the top level

chocolate-decorations-on-sale-for-easter-at-marks-and-spencer

Chocolates on sale for Easter – either the frozen castle or a R2D2. I think I’d go for the R2D2!

So… still open for now. Not that I am complaining! I really like their coffee.

Categories: Shopping, The Hague | 2 Comments

Media Markt sale (Or: BTW actie 2017)

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.

BTW actie 2017

Thursday, January 26, 8am –  Sunday, January 29

btw-vrije-dagen-2017

Image from mediamarkt.nl – “weg ermee” means get rid of it. op = op means gone = gone (i.e. no rainchecks) 

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.

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A time lapse of Grote Marktstraat (And: Some Boston photos)

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:

Make way for ducklings

And a photo of the Boston public library:

Boston public library entrance

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!

JFK presidential library and museum

And a look at the JFK presidential library from inside:

Inside JFK presidential library and museum

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!

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Haagse hopjes (Or: Wall decorations at MegaStores)

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.

Haagse hopjes wall decoration at MegaStores

Haagse hopjes wrappers as a wall decoration

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.

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Kiss the tax goodbye (Or: Media Markt’s 2016 BTW actie)

For a few days at least…

Tomorrow (from 6pm Wednesday the 27th through Sunday the 31st) begins Media Markt’s “btw-vrij actie” for 2016. Media Markt is one of the larger electronics stores in the Netherlands. In this country, tax is included in the price listed, rather than added on at the register. During this sale, most items will be tax-free. There are of course some notable exceptions like Apple products, gaming consoles, movies, computer software… but if you are looking for big ticket appliances like fridges or microwaves, this weekend is your best bet.

Media Markt btw vrij actie

Except of course it still pays to do research beforehand. For one, Media Markt is both an online website and franchise stores, and availability and prices can vary a bit between each franchise. The other reason to do research is that the price you pay at Media Markt without tax might just be the same you would pay at another store with tax.

Oh, and except HUGE crowds that make it all but impossible to navigate through the store. Sort of like America’s Black Friday shopping day, but only at one retailer and marginally more manageable.

Happy shopping!

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Souvenirs (Or: Way more Delft blauw then a person ever needs)

I recently went to Xenos to look for chocolate chips for baking. I didn’t find any, but M&Ms from Albert Heijn did just as well in the end. While wandering around I came across what I call the souvenirs/Delft blauw section:

Souvenir items at Xenos in The Hague

It is of course much cheaper to buy these items here than in a souvenir shop. I try to keep that in mind when we visit other countries. Always try and find the discount stores as it is possible the same souvenirs are there.

Some items are pretty cool too. At the bottom left there are some The Hague mugs with drawings of some of the more famous spots in the city. We gave one to my sister-in-law when we visited for Thanksgiving.

Categories: Shopping | 4 Comments

New rule in the Netherlands (Or: No more free plastic bags)

As of January 1st, Dutch stores are required to charge for plastic bags. Here is an advertisement at the tram stop:

Advertisement in the Netherlands for "no more free plastic bags"

Advertisement in the Netherlands for “no more free plastic bags”

It basically says “You (will now) pay for your own plastic bag” and underneath in small letters “your own bag, better for the environment”.

I think it is a good law change. Marco and I almost always have extra bags with us (I have one at work in my drawer and one permanently stored in my backpack) so there isn’t much effect on us. I did find it funny to go to Action (a “dollar” type store) as the sign said the charge for one bag was 3 cents. We don’t even have pennies in the Netherlands — thankfully! I wish I had taken a picture of that sign.

Most stores have had signs up for a few months now, so it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.

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Yet another try for Spuistraat 19-20a (Or: SoLow XXL)

Spuistraat 19-20a used to be a bookstore by the name of De Slegte. Many years ago, that is – Marco used to get his used textbooks there. Then a few years ago it was taken over by another bookstore, Selexyz. Then last year or so it became Paagman’s, yet another bookstore. See a pattern yet? Then Paagman’s moved to Lange Poten… So that particular location seemed rather cursed.

In early May a new store moved in – this time a SoLow, a discount store. It’s pretty decent, with a mix of normal discount items and random items that they just happened to get in stock that month.

SoLow XXL in The Hague

XXL is definitely the correct term – it’s pretty large inside. I do recommend giving it a look if you live in The Hague. It is also good to check out for Halloween costumes as well closer to October.

Here’s a bonus picture of the neighbor’s cat napping in the garden:

Cat in the garden

 

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