Sushimex (Or: A new restaurant for those who can’t decide)

Do you want sushi? Do you want Mexican food?

If you answered “both”, why not try the new restaurant in The Hague’s city centre? Sushimex (indebuurt.nl, in Dutch) opened last month on the Korte Poten. The menu at thuisbezorgd.nl (in English) lists poké bowls, temaki, burritos, nachos, spring rolls, mozzarella sticks… it’s so crazy that I might just be interested.

The Dutch ministry of health has released their vacation plan:

Living in the Netherlands? Find out when you can get vaccinated against Covid-19, and where from nltimes.nl. Spoiler: As a healthy adult under the age of 60, I have to wait a while. The vaccination location in The Hague is actually at the parking lot of the ADO Den Haag football stadium (adodenhaag.nl, in Dutch), although I’m not sure if other locations will be available in our area later in the year.

It’s possible to get to the stadium with public transportation (and a 10 minute walk) or by car, at least. I know that because a group of us went to an ADO Den Haag game back in October 2017:

Start of the ADO Den Haag game, back in 2017. The opponent was Rotterdam Sparta. Back when crowds were allowed…
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Is it a dance party? (Or: Is it a demonstration?)

Keep in mind the last mayor of The Hague, Pauline Krikke, was forced to resign after the the damning report of the Scheveningen “fire rain” bonfires on New Year’s Eve 2018-19 and after corruption allegations into two city alderman (see this dutchnews.nl article in English).

This New Year’s Eve there was a demonstration in Duindorp. Duindorp and Scheveningen are right next to each other, each competing against the other to make the highest bonfire. That is until the 2018-19 accident when bonfires were banned. They were also banned on New Year’s 2019-20 because the safety permits couldn’t be obtained. Fast forward to this year when they were banned due to the corona measures.

On New Year’s Eve this year there was a demonstration in Duindorp, filled with hundreds of people dancing and singing in the afternoon:

Reports on Twitter suggested that this was not a demonstration at all but a party. The city investigated this claim (Gemeente Den Haag onderzoekt demonstratie met dansend publiek Duindorp – from nos.nl in Dutch), but the mayor denied this and said it was a demonstration.

Yesterday a report dropped on OmroepWest (a local Dutch news station) that the current mayor of The Hague, Jan van Zanen, not only knew that it was not a true demonstration but also that the city council paid €10,000 for festival lighting, with money “allocated for an ‘alternative programme’ to the regular New Year celebration”. Here is an article in English from DutchNews.nl:

Interesting. Though if it were true, it could be seen as attempt by the mayor and the city to prevent worse rioting and to distract the masses, as it were. Which in itself isn’t a bad thing, if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic at the moment.

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A game of Sequence (Or: I always choose blue)

It does not matter what game it is – if there is an option to play blue, I play blue. Here is look at a game of Sequence (Wikipedia) we played at Roger’s recently:

The objective is to get five in a row. There are two copies of each card on the board (except jokers, which allow you to remove an opponent’s chip or add your own, depending on if it is a one-eyed jack or a two-eyed jack). The interesting thing is the cards on the board run in a haphazard fashion, so the queen of clubs might be next to a hearts card in one place on the board but next to club cards in the other place.

In other news – as if fireworks aren’t enough, car owners also have to worry about their car being set on fire this time of year. There were three car fires in the region last night alone:

Although admittedly people tend to set fire to cars year round, it just happens more often around New Year’s.

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New beginnings (Or: A lazy start to 2021)

The perfect kind of lazy – we got up after 10:00. That doesn’t happen too often, so when it does it is nice.

Here is a photo which sums up the new world we live in. It was taken outside of a McDonald’s in Utrecht:

Thuisbezorgd (Translated as something like ‘Delivered to your house’) is similar to GrubHub or UberEats in America. That was the line of delivers waiting to pick up their orders to bring to customers. Just from McDonald’s! Check out this article in Dutch from nos.nl – 1 januari was drukste dag ooit voor Thuisbezorgd – which says that yesterday was the busiest day for Thuisbezorgd ever. The NOS article also has a picture of that McDonald’s in Utrecht, showing an even longer line.

And since we all need a bit of cute, here is a video of two lion cubs going outside for the first time this week (at a zoo in Amersfoort):

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Good start to the New Year (Or: Homemade oliebollen)

Happy New Year! Yesterday morning Marco and I made oliebollen (Wikipedia) to bring Roger’s. Plain oliebollen for me and oliebollen with raisins for Marco and Roger. Yummy!

Thanks to the fireworks ban in the Netherlands, New Year’s Eve was a bit quieter than normal, although there were still a a lot of fireworks right before midnight and for a half hour or so afterwards. Most likely people had an old stash lying around that they hadn’t used last year – or they bought fireworks illegally.

There were still some issues, of course. In nearby Rijswijk, someone set a camper on fire. The only problem? There were gas tanks inside. Several people catch fire after blowing up a caravan from nltimes.nl. (On the one hand, warning: you will see people on fire. On the other hand, no one turned up in the hospital and the victims were long gone by the time the police arrived, so it seems their injuries were minor. If you can call being on fire minor.)

Firework ban widely ignored, but police report fewer incidents during New Year festivities from dutchnews.nl.

However, the Dutch Health ministry did report two thirds less dust or particles in the air last night compared with last year so most people obeyed the ban on fireworks. See also this article from nos.nl in Dutch. Local hospitals were also thankful that the evening was relatively calm: Ziekenhuizen dankbaar voor rustige jaarwisseling: ‘Hele andere nacht’ (from omroepwest.nl in Dutch).

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But where did the fireworks go? (Or: Happy New Year!)

As mentioned earlier, fireworks are banned this year to try and keep the number of hospital visits down. And this is not without good reason: Dozens of hospitals struggling to provide urgent care (from nltimes.nl). Part of the problem is that more and more health workers are out sick during this wave.

Police and firefighters are prepared for “all scenarios” on New Year’s Eve, also from nltimes.nl. Unfortunately this means cancelling all scheduled leave for them to increase the the number of forces out on the streets. For the most part the number one goal is to protect medical workers, with a secondary goal being to enforce the corona measures.

But – The Hague is currently breaking records for the most fireworks turned in! Since you can’t purchase fireworks this year, and you aren’t allowed to legally store it anywhere, a lot of Dutch cities came up with the idea of a few days where citizens could safely turn in their fireworks – even the highly illegal kind – without fear of punishment. At the end of the second day, 600 kilo (1,322 pounds) had been turned in. Ruim 600 kilo vuurwerk ingeleverd bij inzamelactie in Den Haag (nos.nl, article in Dutch).

Above: fireworks from last year.

Random news: I read on indebuurt.nl that a new donut shop was closing before I even got a chance to try it: Deze zaken in Den Haag gaan niet meer open in het nieuwe jaar (article in Dutch). It’s on page 8 of the article. The name was Daddy Donuts Churros Cartel. Donuts and churros – what more could you ask for, really?

Finally, if you have no idea what to do today you can check out Goodbye 2020, a free online streaming event that will last from tomorrow afternoon through the night, with about 40 Dutch artists. Free online festival to entertain youth on New Year’s Eve, from nltimes.nl. The Dutch government donated 1 million euros to the cause with the hopes of keeping youth off the streets tomorrow night, and instead at home watching the various streams. We’ll see if it works. (However, I’m not entirely sure if you can access the streams from outside the Netherlands.)

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Christmas men made of bread? (Or: More breakfast fun)

Here is another breakfast item Marco bought at the local supermarket, Albert Heijn:

We decided to be funny and bake some bacon as well. That way they would have a scarf to keep their necks warm. What do you think? This bread was not that much different from the bread shaped like a Christmas tree we had earlier in the week. (Which, if I must admit, was a bit tastier. These weren’t bad, though.)

And yay, I have a day off tomorrow! I am quite looking forward to sleeping in. And later in the day Marco and I will be going to Roger’s for New Year’s Eve. It is hard to believe I haven’t been to his place since March (!).

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Christmas lights at the Grote Markt (Or: 2020 edition)

Take a look at the Christmas lights at the Grote Markt (denhaag.com in English). Grote Markt is usually a popular bar/club hangout with an active nightlife. Things are of course pretty quiet these days, although the restaurants are still open for takeout or delivery.

The church tower in the background is the Grote Kerk (Wikipedia).

I also took a different shot to try and avoid the trucks on the right side. The bonus of the second shot was that it showed off the Haagse Harry statue:

In other news – take a peek in the mayor of The Hague’s office, courtesy of indebuurt.nl, a news website. The article is in Dutch. Or take a look at the Coronawacht, a satirical version of the Rembrandt’s The Night Watch (Wikipedia). Note: the artist admitted that he wasn’t the most skilled, and it was a very quick job, so keep that in mind. The little details are good though – like Irma Sluis making the sign for “hamsteren” in the middle behind the Dutch prime minister, or the doctors rushing past, or the markers on the ground denoting 1 and a half meters distance, or the then minister of Medical Care collapsing during a corona debate back in March (bbc.com) and resigning a day later.

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Christmas trees made of bread (Or: Breakfast time)

On the second day of Christmas (December 26), Marco and I had a Christmas tree for breakfast:

A Christmas tree made of bread, that is! Marco found it at Albert Heijn, one of the local grocery stores. We ate it with the usual hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) and speculoos paste.

In other news: you can legally turn in fireworks today and tomorrow in The Hague (omroepwest.nl, article in Dutch). Today 207 kilos (457 pounds) was turned in. You can turn in up to 25 kilos of fireworks, even fireworks that are usually in the ‘illegal category’, without being fined.

The reason the city is organizing this is because it is illegal to possess fireworks outside of the few days around the New Year’s Eve holiday (those are also the only days you can legally possess fireworks). This year The Hague said that setting off fireworks would be illegal to keep hospital visits low.

You don’t legally have a reason to have them in your house and you can’t legally set them off, so unless you want to illegally store them for a year, turning them in now is your best option.

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More Christmas trees (Or: A peek at De Haagsche Bluf)

A few days ago I wandered into the Haagsche Bluf (denhaag.com, English) to take a quick picture of their Christmas tree. The Haagsche Bluf is a tiny, outdoor high-end shopping area tucked away in The Hague’s city centre:

In other news, Omroep West (a local news site and channel) will be showing a short documentary later today about the New Year’s Eve riots that occurred in the 70s, 80s and 90s here in The Hague. The document will air tonight at 18:00 and will be available later (I assume) on this page.

Documentaire over kerstbomen rausen in Den Haag: ‘Alles ging op het vuur’ from omroepwest.nl. Documentary about stealing Christmas trees in The Hague: ‘Everything was thrown into the fire’. Rausen is slang in The Hague’s dialect for stealing.

The Hague was well known for burning Christmas trees, cars, couches, chairs, bikes, you name it. At the height of the mania Christmas trees and other flammable materials were stolen from rival groups, occasionally leading to violent injuries and death. The damage cost the city millions of guldens every year (guldens was the Dutch currency before the euro was adopted). In the end the city started organizing their own parties so that people would come to the ‘official’ parties and cause less damage on their own.

The bonfires which happened on the beaches of Scheveningen and Duindorp were the result of the city attempting to control the riots. This worked out okay until two years ago when the bonfires were out of control and spawned fire tornados (!, video from bbc.com). Last year permits were not given to hold the bonfires again due to lingering safety issues and this year the bonfires were cancelled due to corona measures.

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