Earlier last month while on a tram ride I spotted a sign asking Is het rustaagh?!
Is het rustaagh?! is the equivalent of the Dutch saying Is het rustig? but spelled with an Hague accent. It means “Is it busy?” in English. It was a sign promoting HTM’s service to show how crowded a tram was in the HTM app or on the HTM website. The service was first introduced in September of last year, with occasional promotion popping up during the busier months.
Recently I visited Bleyenberg, a restaurant/rooftop bar/meeting spaces/office type combination. Oh, and apparently they have small, private karaoke spaces as well. Very Japanese like.
Here is a look at the city centre of The Hague from Bleyenberg’s rooftop:
Off in the distance is the Grote Markt terrace. The wide street below is the Grote Markt itself, and just under the glass railing you can see the statue of Haagse Harry.
In other news:
For the next two weeks there is a pop-up store at Leiden Centraal train station, featuring products made from recycled materials from NS, the national train service. The linked article is in Dutch from omroepwest.nl. Think of things like shoes or bags made from seat material or a bird cage made from an information board.
A fan of HTM (The Hague’s public transportation company) has purchased an old HTM bus (also in Dutch from omroepwest.nl). He doesn’t live in The Hague, but he remembers taking the bus often to see his grandmother. The bus now sits in his backyard and he is working on renovating it. Apparently his wife was less than thrilled when he said he wanted to purchase it…
In a sign that I no longer ride the tram every day, here is a photo of a new check in / out machine in the older Dutch trams. They were first installed back in January of this year in older red-and-beige trams (article in Dutch from omroepwest.nl).
The “no more gibberish” comment is in reference to a blog post that I did late last year where I showed how screwed up the older machines were getting. One of the bigger pluses with the new machines is the space for where you can put your card is much wider (basically hold your card against the screen or underneath). I still remember with faint embarrassment how I tried to put my OV chip card on the tiny green screen when I first moved here (see image in the blog post linked above). With the old machines you needed to put your card against the white part where the pink logo was. Opps.
But we will see how the coming days play out. On the one hand the government wants to ease restrictions to help the economy (among other things), on the other hand we had over 9,600 corona cases today, the most since early January. It will be an interesting few weeks, that’s for sure.
Marco and I went for a walk around lunchtime today to take a few pictures of the snow that fell. It was fairly cold, but that was mostly restricted to my fingertips.
First a picture of a very cold Hofvijfer. There were actually about 10-15 birds in this part of the water, although it is pretty difficult to see.
I didn’t even see the bird flying above when I was taking the picture. My only thought was of my freezing hands and wondering how fast I could take the picture and put my gloves back on.
Lange Voorhout. Off in the distance (and almost impossible to see) is the Escher museum (official website in English). Did you know it is possible to take a virtual tour of the museum? I found it pretty interesting, even if I felt like I had to move the mouse in the “wrong” direction to move around. Note: I’m not sure if they will keep the virtual tour up after the museum opens its doors again, so don’t wait too long.
Look at the snow on this car on the Lange Voorhout – you can see how hard the wind was blowing.
Handhaving grijpt in vanwege drukte tijdens sneeuwpret from regio15.nl in Dutch. In English: Security intervenes due to overcrowding during “snow fun”. The University of Delft’s library is built into a hillside, which means their roof is basically a grassy hill. They said it was okay to snow down the hill (provided no one uses sharp objects which might damage the roof underneath), but of course that meant massive crowds arrived by the afternoon. It is a very cool library design; I’ve been inside once.
Opps. Tram 16 derailed earlier this morning. Admittedly HTM (The Hague’s bus and tram provider) is still trying to ride most of their routes, with an adjusted schedule. NS, the national train service, said no trains would run today. Amsterdam’s buses and trams were running this morning but have since stopped. Amsterdam’s metro held out a bit longer, until earlier this evening, before that was stopped as well.
Marco and I just finished watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Wikipedia). It is something we do every year, along with A Christmas Story (Wikipedia). You don’t mess with success like that. Luckily Marco was okay with marrying into this ritual. Admittedly, he already had the DVD box set (Vacation, European vacation, Christmas vacation and Vegas vacation).
I love going through the flyers placed into old DVDs like this. Most of the flyers here were about piracy, although there was one flyer listing all of the trailers coming out around the time this DVD set did.
Here are two of the flyers about piracy:
The one on the right talks about how they cried when they saw the poor quality of the bootleg DVD they bought (not really even talking about streaming yet! – just the purchase of a bootleg copy). The one on the left reminds people that bootleg DVDs are usually filmed in the back of the cinema, featuring obscured footage and muffled sound. So yeah, I keep the flyers to be amused year after year.
In other news: if you have some knowledge of Dutch (and are okay with subtitles in The Hague dialect), you should check out this video from two HTM workers sung to the tune of “Oh Oh Den Haag”, talking about how much the workers miss seeing everyone. HTM is The Hague’s public transportation company and as you might expect patronage has dropped drastically this year. As expected, HTM also wishes everyone happy holidays and a happy new year, with good health, love and happiness. Oh, and there is a bit of fake snow…
Marco has outdone himself yet again. Here’s a look at our dinner tonight:
Ramen soup with Japanese noodles, super snaps, pork, carrots, fresh ginger, pickled red ginger, green onion miso, onions, seaweed and sesame seeds. Therefore, I say: yum yum yum! Go Marco!
Here’s a sign that we live in a different world now: HTM laat meer trams en bussen buiten spits rijden, tijdens spits juist wat minder from omroepwest.nl. HTM, the public transportation company of The Hague, has altered their schedule for the rest of the year. They will be offering fewer buses and trams during weekday rush hour, but more buses and trams outside of weekday rush hour. Because, really, what is rush hour these days? Sure, some people go to work, but a lot less than before the corona crisis hit. They will also review the schedule at the end of the year to see if it should be extended into 2021.
Today was a bit of a madhouse in the city centre, although I missed it due to being hard at work. Which is probably a good thing. There were more demonstrations from the group “Viruswaarheid” or “Virus truth”. The demonstrators are against the corona measures the government has created. See also this article (with videos) at nltimes.nl: Covid protestors fight with police in The Hague; 1 cop hurt. But note you do see some idiots.
Yesterday I took a picture of a group of riders waiting for the tram at the front of The Hague Centraal:
It looks a bit chaotic with not enough distance between passengers, but in any other year except 2020 this would have been 3 or 4 times more crowded, as tram 9 is the tram to the beach. So this is actually a vast improvement.
As noted, today there may or may not be activity at the Malieveld due to the Viruswaanzin or “Virus madness” demonstration that was (for a second time) banned by The Hague mayor. You’ll never guess what the police confiscated last night:
…sidewalk chalk (!).
Or read the article from regio15 (in Dutch): Politie neemt stoepkrijt in beslag bij het Malieveld. I think that is going too far – if you check the pictures the persons were drawing lots and lots hearts and writing ‘vrijheid’ and ‘liefde’ (freedom and love) occasionally. There are still chalk messages on the paths around Malieveld about Black Lives Matter and ‘Racism is not just an American problem’, which is true. According to the police the problem isn’t the demonstrators so much as the other people who plan to come, including football hooligans. That was the case last week, but only time will tell if that is the case today.
On an interesting note: officially sidewalk chalk was banned on all public surfaces before 2017, even if little children were drawing. But that rule was never really enforced. You can read more in Dutch at nu.nl: Gemeente Den Haag heft stoepkrijtverbod op.
We’re now in mid-June which means the days are almost at their longest. This photo was taken just before 22:30 last night as the sun was setting:
I deliberately didn’t crop out the markings on the ground reminding people to keep their distance and to walk on the correct side of the street. It will be so weird to look at these photos in five years, I think.
I posted about this article recently, but this street is one of the twenty or so areas in the Netherlands which will have a lot of problems in the new ‘one and a half meters’ society – the street is way too narrow. See also ‘Haagse Spuistraat knelpunt bij anderhalve meter economie’ from omroepwest.nl
And here is an article with cats and trams! Sort of. Kat Simba gered na anderhalve week onder metrolijn E, also from omroepwest.nl. It tells the story of a cat that was trapped for about a week and a half under the track of metro line E. There’s a happy ending of course.
On Thursday Marco and I went for a long walk. It was a great day to do so – a day off and temperatures around 26C / 79F. It was a bit weird to be able to wear shorts and a t-shirt, but I loved it.
On the way back we found ourselves at the “back” of the bus platform at The Hague Centraal train station. I honestly didn’t even know there was a path back there. You learn something new every day!
The bus platform was remodeled last year so that the bus lanes were more easily accessible. Previously if you wanted the last bus you needed to cross every bus lane to get to it. Now if you want the last bus you only need to walk to the end of the pedestrian area and then cross over to your desired bus.
I will happily tag this post as “Spring” because the weather was just that good. Much better than the slightly grey, will it rain or won’t it sort of day that we had today.
The national train service NS has added additional measures by train stations in anticipation of the schedule returning to normal on 2 June. The delay of one day is because Monday, 1 June is a holiday here in The Netherlands.
Note: the schedule is returning to normal due to the expected increase of travelers, however the government still requests that people avoid public transportation when possible and instead take the car, bike or walk to their destination.
The latest measure related to the coronavirus situation is the use of one-way entrances and exits. As you can see in the photo above, you can only use every other door, depending on what side you’re on. There’s a lot of doors at the Centraal station, about 10 on each side. At least most of them are working these days… In the beginning at least half were defective. I wish I was joking!
Another common complaint after the station was remodeled was that it was really hard to see what was a door and what was a glass wall. I think most people are used to it these days although it still requires you to pay attention a little bit.
There’s also notes spray painted in the ground inside, although that’s been around since the beginning of the crisis, in some form or another. From the upper left it says ‘vermijd drukte’ (avoid busy areas, the rule that recently replaced the stay home as much as possible rule, ‘houd afstand’ (keep your distance), ‘was vaker je handen’ (wash your hands more often). In the middle is the main measure about keeping 1.5 meters distance from others, and at the bottom ‘voorkom €400 boete’ (avoid a €400 fine).
The NS train company have also recently added a ban of taking your bike with you in the train unless you have a special bike for medical purposes. They also temporarily removed the ‘Samenreiskorting’, a 40% discount when you travel with the train outside of peak hours with another person; this person must have either a season pass or a student product for you to qualify for the discount. Here is more information in English.
From 1 June you are required to wear a face mask in all public transportation. I’ve also seen information that only seats by the train window will be available for use, although this page (in Dutch) doesn’t say that directly. It does mention that you should only sit where green stickers are placed, however.
HTM, The Hague’s bus and tram service, is also working on new measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
This is also by The Hague Centraal station. As you can see, when you leave the tram you are required to exit to the right and walk along the path noted with arrows. Travellers who are waiting for the tram need to wait in the spots marked with blue or red stickers behind the line. The blue stickers show two feet and the red stickers have a QR code. Once everyone has exited the tram they will be allowed to move forward and enter the tram themselves. As The Hague Centraal is a rather busy area, there are workers present if you have questions (you can just see a man standing there in the upper left of the photo).
Back in mid-March HTM implemented a measure asking that travelers not use the button to open or close tram doors or to use the stop button to signal to the driver that they want to get off at the next stop. For the foreseeable future buses and trams will be stopping at every stop and opening every door so that travellers do not have to touch anything extra during the journey. As you can see above, there’s a sign on the tram door requesting that you do not press any buttons as it is no longer required.
It will definitely be interesting to see what the first week of June is like. At the same time that public transportation will be back to a normal schedule, restaurants will be re-opening with limited capacity as well.