Posts Tagged With: Binnenhof/Buitenhof

Changing of the flags (Or: The end of the Invictus Games)

The Hague was host to the 2020 Invictus Games (English Wikipedia) last month. Like so many things, it was postponed for two years due to Covid-19. The Invictus Games are for injured, wounded or ill military personnel (active or veteran). It ran from April 16 through April 2022 with about 500 athletes from 17 countries competing.

I noticed today that they were taking down the Invictus Games flags from the Buitenhof:

Here it is from another angle, where you can see the provincial flags better:

In total there are 12 flags for the Dutch provinces and 1 flag for The Hague. In the background is the outside of the Binnenhof (English Wikipedia). It is currently closed for renovation. At the moment they are hoping to finishing the renovations by the end of 2026. We’ll see…

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Easter weekend (Or: Everyone is out and about)

This is the first weekend where it has truly felt like “everything is back to normal”. For instance the festival Paaspop (“Easter pop”) was held this past weekend. Back in early 2020 it was the first large festival to be cancelled and now it is the first large festival to be held again. The outdoor terraces are also full as everyone has flocked outside to bake in the sun a bit. (In the Netherlands, most people get Easter Monday off.)

Speaking of outdoor terraces, Marco and I were just at a local Bagels & Beans to get some coffee and banana bread. The coffee was a mocchaccino to be more specific. How hipster of us. And the banana bread was made with walnuts and dark chocolate. Yum yum.

We also took a long walk around the city centre to soak up some more sun. Here is a look at the Hofvijver:

You can’t really tell in the above photo, but the area was very crowded with everyone having the same idea. There was also a market in the area as well.

I think this might have been the first day of the year that I went outside without a jacket on (although I find a long sleeve shirt to wear). Bring on the sun! ☀️

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Lazy days (Or: Random news from around The Hague)

It has been a while since I posted random news articles about what is happening here in The Hague and The Netherlands. So here is a collection of some of the news articles I have seen recently:

The Hague government wants to tear down half of the MegaStores complex and replace it with housing (omroepwest.nl – article in Dutch). Although at the moment it is just a plan versus anything that will actually happen. Affordable housing is all the rage these days, and for good reason. In the last 5 years the cost of buying a house has skyrocketed. For instance, the price of a buying house has risen 21% since January 2021 alone. See also cbs.nl (Department of Statistics, article in Dutch). MegaStores is a furniture mall, but at least half of the stores are empty these days, if not more. It really isn’t a place you would go to if you weren’t looking for furniture.

The Binnenhof, one of The Hague’s most recognizable tourist areas, will be closed as of 21 March for 5 years for renovation (omroepwest.nl, article in Dutch). I can’t imagine it will be closed for that long, but the buildings are in dire need of renovation so it makes sense. The fountain was already removed last month (also omroepwest.nl).

The fountain in the courtyard of the Binnenhof (photo from 2012!)

The Dutch cabinet is expected to drop all remaining corona measures from 23 March (dutchnews.nl, article in English). Not that there were many rules left to revoke. They are expected to revoke the face mask in public transportation rule, the rule that you need to take a test if you are attending an indoor event with more than 500 attendees and the rule that vaccinated travellers must take a Covid-19 test before entering The Netherlands. The advice to work from home at least half of the week will also be revoked. About the only thing that will be left is the basic guidelines (wash your hands, stay home if you are sick, ventilate) and the use of face masks in airplanes, as that is European law.

The Hague accidentally sent voting cards to about 1,500 Brits who weren’t eligible to vote this week from dutchnews.nl in English. A simple but silly mistake – British nationality was still listed as an EU nationality. After Brexit, British citizens have the same rules for voting as I do. You can only vote in the local elections if you have lived in The Netherlands for the last five years, uninterrupted.

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Lazy Saturdays (Or: Dreary walks in rain)

As the blog title implies, we’re in a bit of a wet spell at the moment. Which is actually a good thing – for the first time since 2018, no part of the Netherlands is experiencing drought conditions. See this article in Dutch at nos.nl: Regen en lage temperaturen maken eind aan droogte or see this “Drought monitor” chart at KNMI in Dutch. The chart does still show we have to be careful, though. The black line at the bottom left is this year, and it is similar to 2018 (the grey line) which had a wet spring that turned into an extremely dry summer, rivaled only by the record year 1976 (red).

Another cause for optimism – hospital intakes and the number of corona cases continue to fall, with numbers not seen since mid March. Hopefully the planned relaxations for step 2 of the “opening plan” can go ahead next week (government.nl in English). Of course, it is always a balancing act since relaxations will lead to more infections, so hopefully the number of vaccinations administered will help with that. We are currently doing about a million a week.

In other news: First night train from Amsterdam to Vienna departs on May 25 from nltimes.nl. It is a sleeper train; the route takes 14 hours (19:30 departure from Amsterdam, 09:19 arrival in Vienna).

Den Haag zet zich schrap voor renovatie Binnenhof: ‘Het gebied moet interessant blijven’ from omroepwest.nl. After this summer the Binnenhof will close for 5 and a half years for a large renovation. I will miss being able to walk through it. The article talks about a few activities the city will organize to help keep the area interesting for tourists, including a lookout point that will allow people to see the construction from above.

It also talks about guided tours and a focus on archaeology. My favorite archaeology-after-construction area is the artifacts found during the construction of the tram tunnel. They left some in the floor under glass for commuters to view whenever they wanted.

“Around the table” artifacts at the Grote Markt tram stop, dated to the 17th century. Here’s hoping the Binnenhof construction reveals similar finds.

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Englandspiel (Or: A plaque in the Binnenhof)

A few months back I talked about the shortcut you could take to get in and out of the Binnenhof. In that area you can also find a plaque about the Englandspiel (English Wikipedia), a German counterintelligence operation held during World War II. The German forces captured nearly all of the British and Dutch allies, executing 50 of them.

Marco took this photo last week, hence the flowers for Remembrance Day on May 4.

The topo of the plaque reads “They leapt to death for our freedom”.

In other news, Ajax (the Dutch football champions) posted this video on Twitter. They melted the championship trophy into 42,000 stars to give to each of their season ticket holders as a thanks for their support over the last season. Each star weighed 3.45 grams.

Read more at nltimes.nl: Ajax melts championship dish, awards a piece to season ticket holders

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King’s Day 2021 (Or: A sea of orange)

When Marco and I took a walk this afternoon we spotted these flowers by the Hofvijver (English Wikipedia):

Fitting, since today is King’s Day (also Wikipedia), a Dutch national holiday.

Who else remembers that Koningsdag (=King’s Day) was called Woningsdag last year? Woning = home, so it was a play on King’s Day reminding people to celebrate from home due to the pandemic.

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Stone work by the Binnenhof (Or: Art at every corner)

Here is a look at one of the stone decorations in the Binnenhof:

You know the Netherlands has a lot of rain when even the art references it. (I kid, I kid. It doesn’t rain THAT much.)

And a zoomed out photo:

Unfortunately Binnenhof will be undergoing renovations later this year that are projected to last 5 years (article from nu.nl in Dutch). Five years of not being able to walk in this area seems rather long. The other option was to do the construction in stages so that the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives) wouldn’t have to temporarily move elsewhere. While that option might have been cheaper it would have meant construction would last 12 years…

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The Dutch parliament’s bad day (Or: Bad week?)

Let’s see… last week was the 2021 Dutch elections. After that, talks started to form the government. Since there are so many parties in the Netherlands, you usually need more than one (or two or three) to get a majority in the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives).

The two largest parties, VVD and D66, appointed one person each to speak with the remaining parties to see which party would be the best fit with the largest two parties. Fun fact: the word for this person is verkenner, which literally translates to “scout”. So good so far.

On Sunday the Junior economic affairs minister Mona Keijzer tested positive for corona (dutchnews.nl). At the time the cabinet was not required to go into quarantine because there was enough distance between the members. However they were strongly advised to get tested after 5 days.

This morning one of the scouts, the D66 home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren, tested positive for corona just before she was supposed to have a meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) and Sigrid Kaag (D66) regarding the progress they had made on the initial cabinet formation talks. However, right before the meeting she heard that she had tested positive for corona so she immediately left to go into quarantine.

However, in her haste to leave she accidentally showed her notes to the reporters outside:

Among other things, the notes talk about a minister who was critical of the outgoing cabinet, suggesting he should seek another position. It also talks the parties on the left acting independently of each other versus trying to band together. Within hours both of the verkenners resigned their roles and new verkenners were appointed (dutchnews.nl).

Questions also started to pop up about why the cabinet was still meeting in person and not holding more meetings digitally due to the positive test result over the weekend. Technically the cabinet is exempt from any advice to work from home, but now cabinet meetings will move online for the time being to reduce the risk of getting infected (nltimes.nl).

Throw in a bomb threat at the Binnenhof (Dutch parliament) just after 17:00 today and there you go – one very long week (or at least day) for the Dutch government.

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Just another Tuesday (Or: Ridderzaal, different angle)

Last week I took another photo of the Ridderzaal, this time from behind. Mainly because I liked how the trees looked. Although I started to imagine how nice it would be to have leaves on them when Spring arrives…

In other news: Unilever woos diverse clientele by deleting ‘normal’ from packaging from dutchnews.nl. Unilever (English Wikipedia) started as a Dutch company all the way back in 1929, and had dual headquarters in both London and Rotterdam. However these days they are officially a British company. I think it is a good move to stop saying ‘normal hair’ or ‘normal skin’ since ‘normal’ can mean different things for different people.

Coronavirus positive test rate at lowest point in 23 weeks; Youth infections rising from nltimes.nl. It is currently at 8.1%, the lowest percentage since September 29 when it was 8.0%.

8.4% of Netherlands adults now partially vaccinated against Covid-19 from nltimes.nl. (2.9% adults are fully vaccinated.)

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Weird Hofvijver mystery (Or: Random chemical truck)

Imagine: you are walking past the Hofvijver last week Friday when all the sudden a truck appears, backing up into the Hofvijver:

They back up slowly. Beep, beep, beep. As the hose is automatically lowered into the water, you start to wonder if they should even be there or if it is some evil plan to poison the water supply. Should you tell someone? The side of the truck reads Kaweco, but a Google search doesn’t give much help. Unless maybe it is a slurry tank from kaweco.com? Who knows. It is one of life’s minor mysteries.

On a related note: Sinds de coronacrisis is er meer beveiliging op en rond het Binnenhof (Since the corona crisis there is more security at and around the Binnenhof), from ad.nl. I have always found it cool that you could easily spot the Dutch prime minister walking around The Hague without security. A coworker of mine said she was biking a few months ago and suddenly he was biking right next to her. They exchanged pleasantries and then went their separate ways. Hopefully it stays that way in the future, that Dutch politicians don’t need to be surrounded by security all the time.

Happy Friday, everyone! As always, it has been a very long work week and I am glad to be able to relax for the next few days.

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