5th wedding anniversary (Or: A trip to Breda)

My oh my, how time flies. It’s been five years since Marco and I got married! This year we went to Breda for a few days. Marco chose the location and hotel secretly. I must say – he chose well!

Breda is a city relatively close to the border with Belgium, with about 180,00 inhabitants. The only times I had been there was to transfer from one train to another, so it was new to me.

We stayed at the lovely Bliss Boutique hotel in the city centre. I can highly recommend it! Marco booked through booking.com, and thus didn’t have a chance to select a specific suite. However, it worked out wonderfully as we were placed in the Long Island suite.

It was perfect for us, as it comes with a separate sitting area (pictured below), an eating area, a king-size bed, a bath and double shower… the list goes on and on. The location was also great, being right next to the Grote Kerk (Church of Our Lady) in the heart of the city.

We also got complimentary prosecco and chocolates upon arrival, a welcome surprise as we hadn’t mentioned anything about it being our anniversary!

Bliss Boutique hotel, Long Island Suite, Breda

sitting area

Window at Bliss Boutique hotel, Long Island Suite, Breda

Yes, there was even a wooden boat hanging from the ceiling. And beautiful windows which let the gorgeous sky in…

While walking to the hotel, we went through Valkenburg park. It was beautiful, and luckily we had gorgeous weather for the mini-trip. We were in Breda from Tuesday to Thursday last week. Thursday was coincidentally the last day of summer-like weather in the Netherlands. Friday the weather suddenly changed and brought cold, wind and rain. We didn’t even need our jackets while in Breda. So much good luck there!

Continue reading

Advertisements
Categories: Breda, Marco&Niki | Tags: | 4 Comments

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.)

Categories: Culture, Food, Holidays | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Landscaping around the Grote Kerk (Or: The annoying stones are gone)

Earlier this year The Hague finished a renovation project around the Grote Kerk (Great Church). Some of the benefits included landscaping:

Landscaping around the Grote Kerk, The Hague 2018

Even better is the stonework which you can see nicely in this photo:

The Nutshuis, The Hague 2018.jpg

It’s hard to tell, but I did post another photo of the Grote Kerk back in March of 2013 which shows the old stonework. The reason it will always stick in my mind so well is because Marco and I got married nearby, in the old city hall. So it was a bit of adventure to be wearing (semi)-heels on the old stones!

Across the street is the Nutshuis, formally a bank. It’s now an art/cultural building. And yes, I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to get another photo of the tourist tram.

Categories: The Hague | Leave a comment

Cause and effect (Or: Train chaos by NS)

On Tuesday the train system here in the Netherlands, run by a company called Nederlandse Spoorwegen or more commonly NS for short, went to hell. Well, maybe not literally, but I am sure a lot passengers thought it was!

The craziness actually started around 17:45, when a 21-year-old shoplifter stole something from Albert Heijn at Schiphol airport and fled down the escalators to the train platform. As he noticed he was being chased – by the military police, due to shoplifting at a national airport! – he decided to jump into one of the train tunnels to get away. He was found and arrested anyway.

Amsterdam Centraal - stock photo from NS

Amsterdam Centraal – stock photo

But think about it – what happens when someone runs onto the tracks? The trains are immediately stopped, of course. Anything in the general vicinity. That was the begin of the chaos – Schiphol is an important hub for both travelers entering and leaving the country. But no, it gets even worse.

About an hour later, NS tweets there is a major issue with the railroad switches (which determine what direction a train should go in, this platform or that platform; this direction or that direction) in and around Amsterdam. Because of this, no trains can enter or leave the city. Amsterdam isn’t that far from Schiphol airport – about 15 minutes by train, give or take. Coincidence? Hmmm.

Around 20:00, NS reports that the situation has been fixed and they are bringing the system back online. Around 20:30, this proves not to be the case, with the train system around Amsterdam still down. By 22:00, NS has about 70,000 stranded passengers on its hands and is forced to shut down a train station at Amsterdam-zuid (Amsterdam south) because of overcrowding on the platform.

Passengers begin referencing a seldom used hashtag, #treinpoolen (car pools for train passengers) to try and get car pools organized for people to get in and out of the city. NS even references it in a tweet. It’s too complicated to bring in buses to get people home, since it is too overcrowded and most of the buses are in use elsewhere in the country for other ongoing construction projects. The NS does however promise to get the remaining passengers home that night, with roughly one train running every hour (manually) in each of the directions from Amsterdam. Around about 03:30 that night, the system is fully cleaned and restarted. The only hinderance left is that some trains might be shorter than normal Wednesday morning, since they aren’t in the right starting place anymore. The NS promises to look into the situation.

Later on Wednesday the report is released with the cause of the railway chaos (article in Dutch). It turns out that the thief running into the train tunnels and the major issue with railroad switches around Amsterdam are connected. Cause and effect. When the trains around Schiphol were forced to stop and remain in their current position, one of the trains found itself in a very unlucky place. It was sitting right above the area where the software determines whether a train goes this way or that way. The software thought that a train was repeatedly arriving, and so it repeatedly passed information about which platform to go to. Just over 32,000 times, or 32,768 in exact terms. With 16-bit software, this causes an integer overflow. At the same time, a worker tried to add a platform number by hand for this train. The two events together caused a minor meltdown. Here’s the official article about the cause (still in Dutch).

The crash caused some corruption in the data. Around 20:00, the corrupt data seemed to be removed, but when the system was re-started this was not the case. By 03:30 that night, the system had been fully cleaned and brought back online, just in time for the morning rush hour.

Categories: Amsterdam, Daily Dutch living, Transportation | Tags: | 4 Comments

A cook’s birthday card (Or: Illusions of beer)

Here’s a photo of the birthday card that Marco received from his dad and his dad’s wife:

Homemade birthday card and 'beer' for a cook

First off, check out the birthday card on the right. As you see it folds open to display an oven, complete with utensils and condiments on each side. And pizza!

On the left we have a glass of beer. Or do we? It’s actually made of hair gel (the yellow bubbly stuff) and a layer of styrofoam for the ‘foam’. The only mistake we made was taking to long to take it apart, since the black plastic ladder decided to react to the hair gel and melt a bit… Opps! But still, really cool. And it’s not the first birthday card they made for us. Or check out this other birthday card and this Christmas card.

Categories: Friends&Family | Tags: | 2 Comments

A summer’s day (Or: Scheveningen is crowded)

One of the Dutch news sites NU.nl was featuring a video of the crowded beaches at Scheveningen, taken from a helicopter.

Today’s actually the last day for a while of weather that can be labeled “very good” for a while, with temperatures around 94F here in The Hague. We should also be getting a bit of rain tonight, hopefully, although it will do nothing for the drought conditions the country is experiencing.

On a brighter note, Marco and I visited Five Guys for a second time for some burgers and fries. This time I took a picture of the bulletin board where guests can leave reactions:

Five Guys bulletin board in The Hague, Aug 2018

There are of course a lot of wishes that Five Guys would come to someone’s country. And the ‘best milkshake in town’ paper makes me realized I’ve never had a milkshake at this fast food place. Maybe I should change that at some point…

Categories: Food, Scheveningen, The Hague | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Little V (Or: Time to be a bit fishy)

Last week was Marco’s birthday. He decided to celebrate it at Little V, a Vietnamese restaurant in The Hague. I have blogged about them once or twice… or more.

This time I decided to try something new: sea bass. It came with a delicious ginger fish sauce on the side.

Little V sea bass

I’ve had fish before, but only since I moved to the Netherlands (as I don’t think fish sticks count!). It’s been a slow process: first salmon, then pangasius, then tilapia and tuna fish. I’ve also had a small bit of eel once, but that was more of a reluctant choice. It wasn’t bad, but it’s not something I could eat often. Maybe that will change some day.

On the other hand, I was pretty happy to see that I had a personal discount this week at the local grocery store (Albert Heijn) for pangasius filet. It definitely helps to bring a bit more variety into dinner.

But a Little V blog post wouldn’t be complete without a picture of some of the drinks we had:

Little V drinks - flavor of the moment, buddha smile

On the left is my ‘Flavor of the moment’ drink. For the life of me I can’t remember what the flavor was, but it was good. On the right is Roger’s ‘Buddha smile’. That drink is made of rum, lemon grass, ginger and lemon leaf. He definitely liked it.

Categories: Food | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Heat wave (Or: This isn’t the Netherlands, right?)

So… the Netherlands finally figured out how to do a good summer. Although it might be doing it a bit too well, actually. We haven’t had any rain in about a month and a half (with some crazy exceptions like Twente getting more than a month’s worth of rain yesterday – yikes!) and it has been warm for the Netherlands. Admittedly nothing the US hasn’t seen, but still. I need to apologize to Marco as I always complain about how summer lasts less than a week in this country.

Today it was about 95F here in The Hague, with 96-97F predicted tomorrow. And that’s not even close to the highest temperature recorded in the Netherlands today. Another city called Almelo registered 38.9C or 102.02F at the height of today. Almelo is on the east side of the Netherlands, not too far from Germany.

And how do Marco and I stay cool in a country that doesn’t have much air conditioning in homes? Well, besides water and fans…

Mr Freeze freezer pops or ijslollies

Freezer pops!

The first is freezer pops, or ijslollies in Dutch. A blast from the past and great for the nostalgic feelings.

Iced cappuccinos.jpg

Iced cappuccinos

And the other way is iced cappuccinos. Lekker!

Random links:

melted asphalt in Groningen, in the north (some cities have been salting the roads to prevent this issue)

fires in the dunes

a satellite image comparing July 2017 with July 2018

some bridges in Amsterdam (and other cities) close for the foreseeable future due to the heat

One more day of heat, and then some relief (high of 78F) and perhaps a bit of rain Saturday morning. Maybe. No end in sight to the drought, though.

Categories: Daily Dutch living | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Hmm (Or: How do I spell 1,000 posts?)

I can’t believe it, but this blog has hit 1,000 posts! And what better way to celebrate that than with some pictures of a recent (unrelated) gift I received?

Snelspelwijzer from Onze Taal, with postcard

Snelspelwijzer, from Onze Taal (Quick spelling guide). And one very colorful postcard!

The gift came from my old language coach (from SamenSpraak) who I still see on a regular basis. If you’re wanting help with your Dutch, I can’t recommend SamenSpraak enough. Here in The Hague there is a monthly meet up, the first Wednesday of every month. It meets in the central library’s café. You can also get paired with a volunteer language coach and meet up as often as you both wish. Once a week, every 2 weeks, and similar. If you’re in Den Haag I recommend first dropping by the café to see what the group is all about, but you don’t have to do so. Back in 2014 I went to three café meet ups before I signed up to be paired with a coach, but that’s just me.

Link for information about the SamenSpraak café

Form to request being paired with a language coach/volunteer

Snelspelwijzer from Onze Taal

A look inside the book

The section above is Klinkerbotsing in samenstellingen or ‘Vowel collision in compound words’. The chapter is about hyphen usage. The rule here is basically that if a compound word, and the first word ends in a vowel and the second word begins with a vowel, you need to join the two words with a hyphen. Example: foto-expositie (photo exhibition).

I predict Marco will hear some rather geeky grammar things in the near future.

But until then… onward to the next 1,000 posts!

Categories: Friends&Family, Learning Dutch | Tags: | Leave a comment

Mornings (Or: Breakfast at Lebkov)

Lebkov in The Hague is one of my favorite places to drink a coffee (an americano!) while studying or reading a novel. The latest visit saw me enjoying an americano with a large croissant. Yum!

Breakfast at Lebkov, The Hague

Categories: The Hague | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.