Posts Tagged With: Binnenhof/Buitenhof

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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A different look (Or: The Ridderzaal in the Binnenhof)

Last week I snapped a photo of the Ridderzaal from the side (here is how it looks from the front, as most tourists photograph it):

This area is also public, of course. Not many people end up on this side, though. The Ridderzaal is most well known for Prinsesdag (Little Prince Day, English Wikipedia) in September where the King gives a speech from the Ridderzaal. You can read more about the Ridderzaal at the English Wikipedia page.

In other, strange news: California doctor performs surgery while appearing at video traffic court appointment from sacbee.com. I’ve heard about emergency surgeries but still…

Tuschinski Amsterdam uitgeroepen tot mooiste bioscoop ter wereld from nos.nl (Tuschinski Amsterdam named “the most beautiful movie theatre in the world”) by British magazine Time Out. You can also check out the English Wikipedia page for the movie theatre. I have never been there, of course. But it is pretty cool that a movie theatre owned by Pathé, a Dutch chain, could be named the most beautiful in the world.

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Activity at the Binnenhof (Or: Walking past the Tweede Kamer)

First off, the Dutch court of appeals have ruled that the curfew is indeed legal (article from nltimes.nl in English). Not that it mattered, since the Dutch government also pushed through a curfew law “the legal way” while waiting for the appeal to be heard. For the moment the curfew lasts until 15 March, though the number of cases has been going up for over a week so it might not be lifted at that time.

Today I decided to take a walk past the Tweede Kamer (Dutch House of Representatives). This is actually a very ordinary action to do, as the Tweede Kamer is right in the centre of the city and a lot of it is publicly accessible.

At the moment I’m standing on the Plein, with the statue of Willem of Orange behind me to the right (I wrote a blog post about him last week), looking at the one of the entrances to the Tweede Kamer. You can see a few military police agents and vehicles – this is perfectly normal. There are always military police if the Tweede Kamer is in session.

For the photo above I zoomed in. I assume you are allowed to take pictures but it is seems kind of rude. At least this way you get a sense of how they look without being able to recognize them. Normally I (and everyone, really) walk right past them, with the only difference being in corona times I try to keep my distance a bit more to be polite. But it is a public area and a public street, so it is fine to be there.

I also noticed that there was going to be a press conference in the Binnenhof, although I didn’t stick around to hear what it was about. There were gates set up and public waiting.

Normally I would walk from left to right (through the pictured gate) but since there was a potential press conference about to start I took a rarely used entrance instead to avoid people. I blogged about it some time ago.

Press conferences happen pretty frequently, so I don’t pay much attention. I do try to keep my distance and make sure I am behind the cameras, since it is possible to accidentally end up on the 20:00 national news in the background of a shot if you are walking around The Hague’s city centre.

My suspicions about a possible press conference were confirmed when a Red Bee media van pulled up. Although to be honest I have never heard of that company.

While browsing through NOS when I got back I saw that the press conference was with the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate, reminding restaurant owners that they would not be able to open terraces and would be fined €4,000 if they did so. They are closed under the current corona measures (article on nos.nl in Dutch). The original image of the minister giving the press conference was replaced with a more generic image later, however.

And that’s a normal walk through The Hague’s city centre. Happy Friday, all.

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Frozen Hofvijver (Or: Ice skating craziness begins)

Marco took some photos yesterday of the Hofvijver (the pond outside the Dutch parliament) beginning to freeze over.

Cool photo, huh?

Here is a look at the Hofvijver from the side of parliament:

Technically you’re allowed to ice skate on the Hofvijver (and a lot of people do), but it does raise some security concerns.

To prevent people from getting too close to the parliament, the part of ice next to the buildings is always deliberately broken.

Of course, a lot of people went through the ice yesterday. Check out this article in Dutch from regio15.nl (including photos and a video): Meerdere mensen door ijs gezakt Den Haag. In the afternoon, someone went through the ice and was rescued. Shortly thereafter a few more people went through the ice, so the rest of the skaters were told to wait on the island in the middle. Eventually they were led away by the firemen, mostly using ladders. Today The Hague has put fencing around the Hofvijver to prevent people from ice skating, but that really hasn’t stopped most people.

Bekijk het witte Haagse groen eens vanuit de lucht, from hethaagsegroen.nl in Dutch. (Aerial pictures of some snow-covered nature areas in The Hague).

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