Not wanting to be left out of the heat wave that has been occurring across southern Europe for more than a week, The Netherlands joined the fun yesterday and today, with temperatures here in The Hague around 31C/87F yesterday and temperatures today around 37C/99F. Technically that is nothing compared to what the rest of Europe has been going through, or what other parts of the world have been going through, but still.
I went to work this morning as usual (climate controlled office for the win), and it wasn’t too bad at that point. But on the way back…oh my. I felt like I had been smashed against a wall of heat, as if someone had thrown a heavy blanket around all of my being. Still, as long as you find the shade where you can it works out.
Speaking of finding shade…
As you can see, a lot of people went to the beach in Scheveningen. A smart choice, but if you’re smart you either need to bring an umbrella… or you find a spot directly under the pier for shade. Although then you have to wonder what is the point of going to the beach just to sit under the pier, but to each their own.
Luckily the temperatures will drop again tomorrow, so it really was a mini heat wave. Check out some other photos of Scheveningen over at indebuurt.nl (in Dutch, but scroll down for the photos).
As most big cities know, construction never ends. At the moment a building not far from the Binnenhof is getting work on done on its facade. (Right in that area is an Albert Heijn. You can just see the blue flags marking the entrance. Good luck getting around in that area to get inside.)
But where construction is, companies see opportunities:
A huge Disney+ advertisement spanning the entire building. At least it looks less unsightly than seeing bare scaffolding!
In other news:
The fireworks festival that is held in Scheveningen every year will be changed slightly this year, with fireworks being set off at four different locations along the coastline. You can read about it at denhaagfm.nl in Dutch. The fireworks would be set off at Zwarte Pad, the Pier, by the Keizerstraat and by the Pier. This should hopefully help spread the crowds out, a boon for restaurants in the area, although it will do nothing to solve the issues with public transportation (2018 article at denhaagcentraal.nl – check out the photo).
The pier in Scheveningen either needs to be completely replaced or repaired before 2025 (omroepwest.nl in Dutch). There are safety issues with the construction with the concrete under the pier and the floor. At the moment it seems that the most likely option is that the pier will be replaced, as repairing would actually cost more money.
You will always know these photos were taken in 2020. Okay, I guess 2020-2021 will probably end up being more correct…
The blue eyes make it cute. Don’t miss the mustard squirting of the bottle, or the (easier to miss) ketchup hair curl. This was next to a food vendor on the pier in Scheveningen.
I also spotted a giraffe with a face mask. As you might be able to tell, it is a promotional statue outside of the not yet opened Legoland Discovery Centre. It should be open already but, as the Dutch say, corona heeft roet in het eten gegooid (Literally “Corona threw ash in the food”, or better “Corona threw a spanner in the works”, or most simply “Corona messed it up”).
The sun was already setting as we wandered down the pier. By the time we turned around and headed back to the hotel, the lights on the pier had turned on and it was pretty much dark everywhere. (While we were walking it was cool to see a bit of light left on one side of the sea, with the other half already completely dark.)
I have never booked a hotel room only a few days before it was needed, but here we are in corona times. Marco and I celebrated wanted to go somewhere for our wedding anniversary this weekend. We booked the days off work at least a month ago but I was a bit hesitant about choosing where we would go thanks to the weird times we live in.
Things got a bit stranger on Wednesday, when they announced that new regional corona measures for The Hague (among other cities) would be coming. In the end the new measures were that cafés and restaurants are required to close by 01:00 in the morning and they would only be able to serve a maximum of 50 people (inside or outside) instead of 100. No mandatory face masks outside of public transportation yet. I’m not sure that will ever come in this country.
But! Back to our anniversary. Since things were a bit dicey we decided to stay in the area; we booked a room at the 5 star (!) Kurhaus hotel in nearby Scheveningen. I’m glad Marco persuaded me to go for that one.
The room itself was unexpectedly modern, but still cool. The view at night was awesome:
The room’s window was double-paned, so we didn’t hear anything from the boulevard unless we opened the window. Speaking of the boulevard, we walked up and down it on Friday and Saturday. You could tell there were less people around, although it might have also been because it was no longer the high season for tourists. At least the restaurant owners on the beach don’t have break down everything for the winter (a one-time rule passed earlier this year to help save costs this year, article in Dutch from omroepwest.nl).
Today’s photo is of the landscaping round the Grote Kerk, taken sometime last week. In this weather I’d be surprised if half of it wasn’t drying out.
Due to weather, water companies in the Netherlands warned there could be water shortages (article from nltimes.nl). The issues are due to the warm weather and the fact that a lot of people are staying in the Netherlands for vacation this year.
Oh, and the beach in Scheveningen has never been busier (article from omroepwest.nl), with roads in that direction shut down by lunchtime yesterday for a while. The heatwave is here to stay for a bit longer, so buckle up. It’ll only get warmer! ☀️
Not far from Centraal Station, and before you reach Malieveld, there is a pond. The water is a bit brown, and there may or may not be honking geese around, but it is a slice of nature nonetheless.
It’s also a bit of a reminder that I should take a different path sometimes. Normally I follow this path until it reaches Malieveld, but on the other side of those trees there’s a deer camp that goes by the name of Koekamp (Dutch Wikipedia). Of course Koekamp translates to cow camp, not deer camp, but okay. The Wikipedia page mentions that this used to be a hunting area full of bovine, with the earliest reference dating back to 1316. The deer took over sometime in the 17th century.
Interesting story I forgot to mention yesterday: I walked past the central library just before 12:00 and was surprised to see four or five people waiting in line by the library entrance. In these corona times the library is closed on Sundays, hence my surprise. I wonder if there was an event going on, but I don’t think so. More likely the first person stood in line and then others walked past, saw the line and thought the library was about to open so they joined too. I hope they weren’t waiting in line for too long!
In other news:
Rutte wants to continue as PM but still uncertain; Relaxing Covid rules was “terrifying” from nltimes.nl. That’s Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister. I had not realized there was any doubt that he would run for re-election next March. It also talks about the death of his mother in a nursing home a few months ago during the height of the corona crisis. The strict visitation rules and his workload prevented him from visiting her in her final days. Her death did not leak to the press until two weeks after the fact; he kept it secret so that it would not be a distraction.
Beach pavilions cannot operate this winter but can stay standing: Minister from nltimes.nl. The government has struck a compromise with beach pavilion owners: to prevent unnecessary costs pavilions do not need to be dismantled during the winter, although they cannot open to customers. The reason pavilions are normally dismantled is due to winter storms. Any costs due to storms or vandalism would still need to be covered by pavilion owners.
On Sunday the beach pavilions in Scheveningen told The Hague government that they were going to open more facilities on Wednesday, earlier than the planned 1 June opening date set by the Dutch government. They want to rent out beach chairs and open up the toilet facilities.
And why do they want to open on Wednesday? Because Thursday is a holiday with a great weather forecast (26C or 79F). And why do they need to do so? Because the beach pavilions are bleeding money and say they won’t survive if they don’t open early (article in Dutch). They said they would all open up and if the government didn’t like it they would need to fine all 70 pavilions. Of course, fines range anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 euros…
The answer arrived from The Hague city government later on Monday: no, you cannot open early (article in Dutch). Like other restaurants in the country, you can only be open for takeaway at the moment. The Hague government also mentioned that it wouldn’t be fair to the city centre if the beach could open their terraces early and the city centre could not. That article also mentions a point of contention that the pavilions in Scheveningen have – other beaches do have more freedom to open more of their services, even though they are under the same rules as the rest of the country. The problem is that Scheveningen falls under a different public safety region than the other beaches do, and the other region has chosen to interpret the execution of the rules differently.
Personally, I think part of the problem that The Hague is trying to avoid is the obvious overcrowding of the beach area, but also overcrowding in the public transportation system. HTM (the regional bus and tram service) isn’t required to run their full transportation schedules until 1 June, the same day that face masks will also be required within public transportation due to the expected increase of travelers. I think people are starving for a bit of sun and any good weather they can find, and if they hear that the beaches are providing more services this week they will flock to them en masse.
Lastly, there will be another press conference tonight over the expected rules coming on 1 June, and I do expect them to stipulate that terraces and restaurants cannot open before 12:00 on 1 June, to prevent what happened with hair dresses here in the Netherlands as well as other countries: a lot of hair dressers opened at midnight. Can you imagine if all of the restaurants in The Hague tried to do the same?
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.
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:
Laying down the path in the sand
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.
These photos are actually from Marco, who had a work outing in Scheveningen this past week. The theme was “overleving en samenwerken”, or “Surviving and working together”, which can be complete opposites if you think about it… From what I heard, it was the typical team outing – rope tug of war, get this water from this place to that place using only three bamboo tubes, etc.
The first picture is a look at the art installation “Beelden aan zee” (Images by the sea) (Dutch website | English website). Along with the museum, Beelden aan zee is known for outdoor metal sculptures inspired by fairy tales, a few of which like the one in the photo are very, very tall and make for great photo opportunities. Especially at sunset…