After a long working day, both Marco and I are ready for the weekend! The weather looks like it will be cooperating as well, with highs around 25C (77F) tomorrow. I definitely have not been getting outside enough this week so I am looking forward to a nice, long walk. I’m not sure where yet, but anywhere I can stretch my legs and socially distance myself sounds good to me.
Here’s a photo from the Holland Spoor train station last week:
It’s definitely a dirty floor, so I decided not to give you an extra large version of this photo. Ha! But as you can tell these stickers are reminders about what to do in the train station (wear a face mask, keep your distance and stick to the right).
And I now realize my American readers might be slightly confused: courgette is zucchini. Courgette is more often used in French and British English, while zucchini is used in American English. But since I didn’t really cook with zucchini when I lived in the States, it will forever be courgette for me.
The beer… ah, yes, the beer. That is a gift from a coworker. It’s a beer from a brewery here in The Hague. Eiber is another word for stork, which is also featured in The Hague’s crest of arms. This beer was brewed in honor of the beer makers’ daughter, born in March. See a photo of her at indebuurt.nl. And it is tasty! Marco and I were thrilled with this gift.
In the last year Albert Heijn started adding candy and other snacks to the area by the self-service registers. It’s not very tempting though, probably because they don’t have that much room to show off the “goods”:
So, five choices generally. And they aren’t well-stocked and they don’t look that appealing visually. At least try to get the barcodes looking a bit more similar, please? Although I suppose there will come a day when I desperately need that extra purchase to get me over ten euros to get a stamp. If you get 10 or 20 of those you can usually get something good (if the promotion is right).
In other news:
I don’t know if you remember the train derailment in The Hague at the start of the year, but the report of what went wrong was released earlier this week (omroepwest.nl). The type of train that derailed is often used in routes which require hard and frequent braking, however the maintenance schedule for this train type did not take this into account. The train’s brakes were worn, causing two wheels to completely derail and damage to a few dozen meters of track. A conductor and passenger were both injured, but not seriously.
Did you know that the Show/hide formatting marks button in MS Word has the nickname onderwater tekens or onderwaterscherm in Dutch? I mean the button which shows you carriage returns or non-breaking spaces. In English that translates to “underwater marks” or “underwater screen”. In other words: looking under water to see what you normally can’t see. Hmm. It’s not the formal name, of course.
Yesterday I took a picture of a group of riders waiting for the tram at the front of The Hague Centraal:
It looks a bit chaotic with not enough distance between passengers, but in any other year except 2020 this would have been 3 or 4 times more crowded, as tram 9 is the tram to the beach. So this is actually a vast improvement.
As noted, today there may or may not be activity at the Malieveld due to the Viruswaanzin or “Virus madness” demonstration that was (for a second time) banned by The Hague mayor. You’ll never guess what the police confiscated last night:
…sidewalk chalk (!).
Or read the article from regio15 (in Dutch): Politie neemt stoepkrijt in beslag bij het Malieveld. I think that is going too far – if you check the pictures the persons were drawing lots and lots hearts and writing ‘vrijheid’ and ‘liefde’ (freedom and love) occasionally. There are still chalk messages on the paths around Malieveld about Black Lives Matter and ‘Racism is not just an American problem’, which is true. According to the police the problem isn’t the demonstrators so much as the other people who plan to come, including football hooligans. That was the case last week, but only time will tell if that is the case today.
On an interesting note: officially sidewalk chalk was banned on all public surfaces before 2017, even if little children were drawing. But that rule was never really enforced. You can read more in Dutch at nu.nl: Gemeente Den Haag heft stoepkrijtverbod op.
Have you seen the murals by the entrance to the Centraal Station yet? There are murals painted on both sides of the tram viaduct (used by trams 2, 3, 4 and 6) which you can view from the tram stops outside of the station.
As I walking into the kitchen this morning to start breakfast I heard a loud BAM! A bird flew against our back window, or at least the door frame between the two windows. Either way, I found it lying on its back twitching, rolling from side to side in an attempt to get up. But it was pretty obvious it wasn’t going to last long; within 5-10 minutes it was dead.
After waiting the appropriate time to make sure it was dead (and admiring an unexpectedly beautiful patch of blue on its wings), Marco carefully used a broom to push it into a box and place it into the waiting garbage bag (which is itself was put into a second garbage bag). We disposed of it in one of the public trash containers on the street.
And that is our tale of “…at least the window didn’t break…”
Before this weekend, the last time I was in a tram was 13 March. Three months ago. I would have considered that unheard of before this corona pandemic started.
However on Friday morning I took tram 17 to Rijswijk after the morning rush hour. I’ve ridden at that time before, so I fairly certain it would not be busy. And I was right – it wasn’t. (Whew.)
It wasn’t too special, except that I almost forgot to check in. It’s definitely been a while. Everyone wore a face mask as required. And boy, did I have to get used to wearing one! I was glad to not have my glasses on otherwise I would have to worry about them fogging up. But it was instantly warm and I instantly wanted to take it off. But I survived. I can’t imagine wearing one at every moment that you are outside, but I know a lot of countries require that.
I also took the tram on Saturday, this time tram 3, for the blood donation appointment I wrote about yesterday. That one was fairly empty at 08:20 when I went to the appointment, but was definitely busy when I came back around 09:45. It’s nothing compared to the pre-corona traffic, and was still at acceptable levels for social distancing, but it still felt weird.
There were also a high proportion of mobility scooters in this area. You can just see one in the background behind the flowers.
I also saw a plaque marking the former residence of a famous writer:
That writer was Eduard Douwes Dekker, better known by his pen name Multatuli (Wikipedia.com). He is best known as the writer of Max Havelaar, a 1860 novel which cast a negative light on the issues with colonialism in the Dutch East Indies, now known as Indonesia. I’ll admit I haven’t read it yet as it doesn’t really fit with the type of reading I normally do.
In other news:
Do you have issues with wearing a face mask and glasses at the same time which causes your glasses to start to fog up? If your face mask has elastic bands, try crossing them over your ears first to tighten up the face mask a bit. See also this image from i.imgur.com which I found on Reddit. I’ve also heard you should try cleaning your glasses with dish soap and then drying them with a glasses-friendly cloth. That leaves a tiny layer a soap on your glasses which can usually protect against your glasses fogging up – though not always unfortunately.
HTM blij met staatssteun: ‘Tien miljoen euro verlies in plaats van zeventig miljoen’ (omroepwest.nl) – HTM [The Hague’s public transportation company] is happy with the government’s support: 10 million euros loss instead of 70 million. Government support of Dutch public transportation companies is required due to the government asking them to run their full schedule even when passenger numbers are down. In that way the government can be sure that there is enough space for passengers who are using public transportation during this time.
On Thursday Marco and I went for a long walk. It was a great day to do so – a day off and temperatures around 26C / 79F. It was a bit weird to be able to wear shorts and a t-shirt, but I loved it.
On the way back we found ourselves at the “back” of the bus platform at The Hague Centraal train station. I honestly didn’t even know there was a path back there. You learn something new every day!
The bus platform was remodeled last year so that the bus lanes were more easily accessible. Previously if you wanted the last bus you needed to cross every bus lane to get to it. Now if you want the last bus you only need to walk to the end of the pedestrian area and then cross over to your desired bus.
I will happily tag this post as “Spring” because the weather was just that good. Much better than the slightly grey, will it rain or won’t it sort of day that we had today.
The national train service NS has added additional measures by train stations in anticipation of the schedule returning to normal on 2 June. The delay of one day is because Monday, 1 June is a holiday here in The Netherlands.
Note: the schedule is returning to normal due to the expected increase of travelers, however the government still requests that people avoid public transportation when possible and instead take the car, bike or walk to their destination.
The latest measure related to the coronavirus situation is the use of one-way entrances and exits. As you can see in the photo above, you can only use every other door, depending on what side you’re on. There’s a lot of doors at the Centraal station, about 10 on each side. At least most of them are working these days… In the beginning at least half were defective. I wish I was joking!
Another common complaint after the station was remodeled was that it was really hard to see what was a door and what was a glass wall. I think most people are used to it these days although it still requires you to pay attention a little bit.
There’s also notes spray painted in the ground inside, although that’s been around since the beginning of the crisis, in some form or another. From the upper left it says ‘vermijd drukte’ (avoid busy areas, the rule that recently replaced the stay home as much as possible rule, ‘houd afstand’ (keep your distance), ‘was vaker je handen’ (wash your hands more often). In the middle is the main measure about keeping 1.5 meters distance from others, and at the bottom ‘voorkom €400 boete’ (avoid a €400 fine).
The NS train company have also recently added a ban of taking your bike with you in the train unless you have a special bike for medical purposes. They also temporarily removed the ‘Samenreiskorting’, a 40% discount when you travel with the train outside of peak hours with another person; this person must have either a season pass or a student product for you to qualify for the discount. Here is more information in English.
From 1 June you are required to wear a face mask in all public transportation. I’ve also seen information that only seats by the train window will be available for use, although this page (in Dutch) doesn’t say that directly. It does mention that you should only sit where green stickers are placed, however.
HTM, The Hague’s bus and tram service, is also working on new measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
This is also by The Hague Centraal station. As you can see, when you leave the tram you are required to exit to the right and walk along the path noted with arrows. Travellers who are waiting for the tram need to wait in the spots marked with blue or red stickers behind the line. The blue stickers show two feet and the red stickers have a QR code. Once everyone has exited the tram they will be allowed to move forward and enter the tram themselves. As The Hague Centraal is a rather busy area, there are workers present if you have questions (you can just see a man standing there in the upper left of the photo).
Back in mid-March HTM implemented a measure asking that travelers not use the button to open or close tram doors or to use the stop button to signal to the driver that they want to get off at the next stop. For the foreseeable future buses and trams will be stopping at every stop and opening every door so that travellers do not have to touch anything extra during the journey. As you can see above, there’s a sign on the tram door requesting that you do not press any buttons as it is no longer required.
It will definitely be interesting to see what the first week of June is like. At the same time that public transportation will be back to a normal schedule, restaurants will be re-opening with limited capacity as well.