The best drinks in The Hague (Or: Little V)

Earlier in the month a friend and I went to Little V in The Hague. Delicious, as always! The best Vietnamese restaurant in the city, without question.

And not just for the food – the drinks always taste as awesome as they look:

Lemonade by Little V in The Hague

and

Cocktail by Little V in The Hague

Quite refreshing – especially as the weather (slowwwwly) gets warmer and more people sit outside.

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Instagram highlights (Or: A wall of cheesecake!)

A month or two ago Marco and I went to The Cheesecake Company on Torenstraat here in The Hague for — you guessed it — cheesecake. It’s not the first time I’ve blogged about them and it won’t be the last. Marco and I even choose this cheesecake for our wedding cake, it’s that good.

During this visit I just had to take a photo of the “wall of cheesecake” that is prominently displayed:

Wall of social media comments from customers, Cheesecake Company The Hague

A closer look reveals that it is Instagram photos:

Wall of social media comments from customers, Cheesecake Company The Hague - closeup

It’s a really clever idea to bring a bit of color to the shop, as well as advertise what you make and your Instagram account in general.

It had been a while since we visited so we took our usual white chocolate cappuccino cheesecake (this was the flavor we chose to ceremonially “cut into” at our wedding):

White chocolate cappuccino by the Cheesecake Company, The Hague

And for a light, fresh flavor we chose lemon cheesecake:

Lemon cheesecake by the Cheesecake Company, The Hague

If you’re in the neighborhood, I highly recommend a visit!

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Countdown to Wednesday (Or: Dutch elections 2017)

On Wednesday the Netherlands will have their parliamentary elections. The primary parties include VVD (liberal), PvDA (labor), PVV (far right), CDA (Christian Democrats) and more — way more. The Netherlands has many choices about who they want to vote for. The parties are so fragmented that no one party can lead – even if you get the majority, you still need to form a coalition with at least one other party to get a government going. Forming a coalition can take up to three months at times! Unfortunately for me I can’t vote – you need to be a Dutch citizen to vote in these elections.

Check out a a list of parties here:

Dutch elections 2017 - potential parties to vote for

A list of about 10 or so parties (from left to right) with the various members in each listed from top to bottom

This huge piece of paper is mailed to each household. On the back it lists places to vote:

Dutch elections 2017 - handout of places to vote

Locations where you can vote – though you are not required to vote in at a fixed location

What makes this election interesting is the inclusion of Geert Wilders, who is more aptly known as “the Dutch Trump”. His party (PVV, of which he is the only official member) advocates for the Netherlands leaving the EU in a sort nexit. He would have the country spend more on defense and less on wind power and foreign aid. He is also very anti-immigration. The Guardian has a very nice article covering the Dutch election and why it is so important – not just for the Netherlands but also for the EU.

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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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Art in The Hague (Or: The Ball Gown)

Near the Passage there is a small alleyway called Achterom which translates to “Around the back”. It refers to the fact that this small alleyway was once the alternative entrance to the Buitenhof. The street followed The Haagse Beek (a creek or brook) and the walls of the Buitenhof.

achterom-street-crossing-with-the-passage-the-hague

Achterom – cutting through the Passage.

achterom-alleyway-in-the-hague

The alleyway first winds right

achterom-by-dok-cooking-store-in-the-hague

…and then left. In the distance is the corner of Achterom and Kettingstraat (“Necklace street”) where the Ball Gown artwork can be found

de-baljurk-the-ball-gown-the-hague

Map of how Acterom (here the white line) crosses De Passage. The red star marks the corner where the Ball Gown can be found.

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A day out in Scheveningen (Or: To the beach!)

This afternoon Marco and I visited Scheveningen and walked along the beach’s boulevard. It was definitely a cold day in February, with lots of wind, but at times the sun shone. They were busy preparing for the opening of the beach season which should happen within a few weeks:

preparing-for-the-opening-of-the-beach-season-2017-scheveningen

Laying down the path in the sand

scheveningen-beach-and-pier-feb-2017

A bit further down the path is already in place – with a gorgeous view of Scheveningen’s pier and the new Ferris wheel. To the left of the wheel is the bungy jumping area.

Marco and I first walked in the other direction, towards the haven. We took a lovely picture of Keizerstraat. Some call this the oldest shopping street in the Netherlands.

looking-at-keizerstraat-from-scheveningen-beach

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Just around the corner (Or: Jewish monument in the city centre)

If you take the stairs underground near the entrance to the C&A department store on the Grote Marktstraat, you’ll find a Jewish monument:

jewish-plaque-under-ca-the-hague-ezekiel-11-16

The text reads:

Ik werd voor hen tot een klein Heiligdom in de landen waarheen ze gekomen waren which translates (roughly) to I was a bit of sanctuary for those who come to this land. 

jewish-plaque-under-ca-the-hague

translated as “From 1723 to 1844 there was a synagogue for the Dutch Israeli community of here”

In 1844 the synagogue moved to the nearby Wagenstraat (now the heart of Chinatown). After World War II – from which most deported Jews did not return – the synagogue was closed in 1975. Around the same time the Muslim Turkish community’s numbers began to rise and in 1978 they asked the city for use of the space to turn it into a mosque.

This request was denied, but a group of Turkish Muslims took over the building by ‘squatting’ it. After three years the city granted their request to use it as a mosque. It now houses 1,500 worshippers. The original name of the mosque was Fatih, after a conquerer, but it was later renamed to Aqsa mosque as a reference to the Grand Mosque in Jerusalem.

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City maps and artifacts (Or: Grote Markt tram tunnel)

Last week Marco and I visited the Grote Markt tram stop for a hidden gem: a 1616 city map recreated in the floor tiles and glass display cases of artifacts uncovered while constructing the tram tunnel.

The Grote Markt and Spui tram stops are found underground in the center of the city and service lines 2, 3, 4 and 6. The tram tunnel was a solution to the overcrowding of trams and cars above ground – once the tunnel was complete, the trams moved underground and cars were banned. These days only pedestrians and bikes are allowed. Of course, various problems caused the tunnel’s opening to be delayed 4 years and the cost was €100 million more than planned, but it did eventually open with much fanfare.

overlooking-the-city-map-and-artifacts-at-grote-markt-tram-tunnel-the-hague

Looking at the area from above (from the bridge which spans both platforms)

If you want to see the recreated city map and the artefacts, visit the Grote Markt tram stop (the entrance is by the statue of Haagse Harry!). Take the stairs underground and you’ll find yourself by a bridge above the platforms. Look left and you’ll see the city map in the ground on the same side you came in on.

1616-city-map-of-the-hague-recreation-at-grote-markt-tram-tunnel-stop

A look at the city map – with two HTM controllers walking away (controllers check to make sure you paid for your trip).

tram-tunnel-in-the-hague-as-shown-on-old-1616-city-map

The 1616 map is also recreated on the wall, with the area where the tunnel would be built highlighted. During the tunnel’s construction, the surveyors were pleased to see how accurate the 1616 map was for stating where foundations and walls could be found.

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One street (Or: Chinatown gates in The Hague)

The Hague’s Chinatown can be found close to The Hague’s city center:

chinatown-area-the-hague

Google Maps – Chinatown, The Hague. The two busiest streets are Gempte Burgwal and Wagenstraat.

The highlight of this area is the two Chinatown gates:

chinatown-gate-at-stille-veerkade-the-hague

Chinatown gate by Stille Veerkade. If you are coming from the Holland Spoor train station, you’ll probably take Stationsweg to get to the city center. You would then pass through these gates. Continue through Wagenstraat to reach the heart of the city. 

chinatown-gate-by-gedempte-burgwal-the-hague

Chinatown gate by Gedempte Burgwal – most would see this gate as it lies close to the Grote Markstraat shopping area

The gates of Chinatown are an interesting subject. If you list to podcasts I definitely recommend 99% Invisible’s podcast episode on Pagodas and Dragon Gates, which talks about Chinatown in San Francisco. Before the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, Chinatown was much like any other part of the city, in terms of its architecture. After the earthquake there was talk of moving Chinatown into a different part of the city and using the prime real estate for something else. At least until Chinese leaders threatened to leave if this happened. So the city decided to keep Chinatown where it was and had the opportunity to rebuild Chinatown in a new style. The gates and pagodas were what the architect envisioned, but though it did not represent how China actually looked. But this image of China was very popular with tourists, and this version of Chinatown spread throughout the US.

The Hague’s Chinatown was previously a Jewish neighbourhood before WWII. After the war, the area remained for the most part vacant as only 2,000 of the 17,000 Jews returned to the city. In the 1970s the city designed to revamp this area into Chinatown, along with the nearby Rabbijn Maarsenplein which also has Japanese, Vietnamese and Indonesian restaurants (I highly recommend Little V).

While the gates are definitely a good photo opportunity, the best time to visit the district is during the Chinese New Year festival (post from 2013). But there are a lot of restaurants and a few souvenir shops on this street even if you aren’t visiting during the festival!

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Snowmageddon (Or: Snow in The Hague)

Okay, obviously the post title is a joke! But still, I was able to take some pretty pictures over the weekend of the snow in The Hague.

snow-on-the-nieuwe-kerk-in-the-hague

Considering the level of snow some parts of America get, this is obviously nothing. But still, it’s been about four years since I’ve seen snow in the Netherlands – there was some snow in 2012-2013 when I moved here (and way too much ice) but since then not much. The one time we really got snow, Marco and I were on vacation out of the country.

So yeah – it’s been about 4 years!

snow-on-flowers-in-the-hague

Rabbijn Maarsenplein

Both of these pictures were taken on Saturday. Overnight into Sunday we actually got a bit more snow – about an inch – but it’s all but melted now. But it was fun to see how happy the kids were to play in snow.

A neighborhood police agent was filming with a body camera as he participated in a (playful) snowball fight with kids from the Moerwijk district – see the video of the snowball fight on Omroep West.

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