2018 was definitely the year of reading for me. In total I finished 19 books in Dutch and 11 books in English. Thanks in part to a re-read of the Harry Potter series, I must admit. The Dutch translations clock in at just over 3,000 pages for seven books!
Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore. Also a hefty read, it came in at just over 1,000 pages for the Dutch translation and was thus split into two parts. The best part? The Dutch translations were released in December 2017 and January 2018, whereas the English translation was not released until October 2018. One of those times knowing another language besides English has been beneficial for reading.
Not far from The Hague’s Central Station, a small monument for Chuck Deely has appeared. Chuck was a street musician who passed away two years ago today. Earlier in 2018 he received a mural on one of the tram tunnels (scroll down a bit to see the photo).
This memorial can be found outside of the entrance to Rijnstraat 8. This building is across from the main entrance of The Hague’s Central Station, and houses many government ministries. After crossing the tram tracks and the small street, look for the white marble blocks on your left.
There’s no name of description of what this is, so you’d definitely need to be a local to know.
We interrupt this blog post to say: Happy birthday, mom!
Here’s a look back at our oliebollen making attempts this year. (Quick recap: oliebollen literally translates to “balls of oil” and are sort of like doughnuts, usually with raisins found inside. They are a traditional New Year’s Eve treat for Dutchies.)
First, a look at the batter. Doesn’t look like much yet! Or it kind of looks like we are making chocolate chip cookies… But it still needs to be allowed to rise for about 45 minutes, too.
To make the experience a bit easier this year we bought an oliebollentang from Albert Heijn. It’s really just a glorified ice cream scoop. We also tried wetting the scoop in oil between each oliebol. It was still trial and error, but we finally learned the best trick for us was to use a large spoon to grab the batter, and then carefully place it into the oliebollen scoop, and finally put the scoop into the oil, releasing the batter under the oil so that it would come off (a bit) easier.
Time to fry them up! My favorite part is when the oliebollens start flipping on their own. Doesn’t always happen, but sometimes.
They are already looking a lot like oliebollen. You only need to keep them in the oil for 3-4 minutes, but they should be flipped once to make sure both sides are evenly cooked.
And the finished product, with a fair heaping of powdered sugar on top.
Here are a few photos from the New Years Eve celebrations this year, taking sometime after midnight. It definitely seemed like most people did their fireworks before midnight rather than after. There were still a lot of fireworks going off — I just didn’t get any good photos of those!
And what would a blog post be without a photo of a small New Years Eve fire:
And finally, here’s a link to a drone video on YouTube someone made this year of the New Year’s Eve celebrations here in The Hague. They also made a video of last year’s fireworks extravaganza as well.
Every year on New Year’s Eve, Scheveningen and Duindorp build huge bonfires, one trying to outdo the other. They are actually right by each other, with Scheveningen on the north side of the beach and Duindorp on the south side.
The above picture is from Scheveningen in 2015-2016, when it captured the Guinness World Record for largest bonfire at 8,695 cubic meters. And Duindorp had the record the year before that, to give you some idea of the competition (!).
Here is a link to a drone video of the preparation earlier last week. The cool thing is you can see the other bonfire rising up at the other end of the beach as well. The preparation was not without some hard feelings this year. For instance a truck with pallets for Duindorp accidentally drove to Scheveningen and unloaded the pallets there. The article also goes on to say that Duindorp reached its maximum height and was told to stop, while Scheveningen was at a similar height but was not told to stop building. For that reason, Duindorp started adding more pallets overnight, but stopped again when morning broke. And the article also mentions that some youth in Duindorp were threatening “builders” for the bonfire in Scheveningen who happened to also live in Duindorp.
So you can see that things were a bit riled up this year, which led to the bonfires being higher than they should have been (safety wise). But everything was approved and went ahead last night, and when the bonfire in Scheveningen was lit, it was spectacular.
And then the wind quickly changed direction, and two things were brought with it (video from nu.nl): a rain of fire descending on the beach and nearby houses, and tornados of fire. Actual tornados! One of the beach tents started burning and the fire department cleared out the boulevard as no one wanted to get out of the way for emergency vehicles. They had to use a bit of force (and police dogs) to get everyone to clear out.
Here you can see some of the damage to the surrounding area. Luckily there were no injuries. The fire department did an exceptional job keeping some of the more important buildings wet throughout the night (including the Old Church) to keep them safe.
As mentioned in a few months back, the oliebollenkraam (= stand to sell oliebollen) has temporarily moved to the Grote Markt due to construction around the Spuiplein. I suspect the move has been good for them and they are making much more money where they currently are. They are consistently voted one of the best stands in this providence.
Oliebollen is sort of like a doughnut and covered in powdered sugar. They are traditionally filled with raisins, but you can get them without raisins as well these days. They are eaten around New Years Eve, although you can also find them at carnivals throughout the year.
Here is a look at the line around 10:30 this morning:
And a close up, to show you what the stand looks like:
So the lines weren’t too bad at 10:30. This is what it looks like around 14:30, just four hours later:
There’s still three lines, give or take, and they stretch just to the edge of the tram/bus area. Compare that to the lines in 2014 and 2015. Of course that is at the old location, where it is easier to just have a single line.
I suspect the crowds will be greatest around 17:00, when everyone is out of work. However by then festivities will also be starting at our place so we won’t be going outside until closer to midnight, for the fireworks.
A photo of the Christmas tree at the local Media Markt here in The Hague:
Media Markt is “the” electronics store of the Netherlands, a chain that started in Germany. According to Wikipedia, it’s the largest electronics retailer here in Europe, and the second largest worldwide after America’s Best Buy. The one thing to get used to is that most or all of the stores are franchises, so the price might differ between stores.
Media Markt is also known as the place to go during the BTW-vrij week, which usually happens around the end of January. BTW-vrij = Media Markt deducts the taxes from the price so you don’t have to pay it.