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.
I’m a big fan of public transportation and love reading everything about HTM trams, so I just had to share the photo I made about the check-in/check-out machine in one of the local trams:
For years these machines display gibberish about 50% of the time. The machine should read IN/UIT- CHECKEN at this moment, which it… mostly… does. But about 15 seconds prior ‘CHECKEN’ was actually ‘SLURKEN’. I’m not sure why exactly, but one letter randomly changes here and there and random symbols appear on the sides.
Maybe it’s all just a big puzzle we are supposed to figure out.
Public service announcement: please note the very awesome and tasty oliebollenkraam on the Spuiplein (which has its own Facebook page!) looks to have relocated to the Grote Markt this year:
This is because of all the construction at the Spuiplein (article in Dutch, with photo), which seems to take over more and more space every week.
The Facebook page for the oliebollen stand says it should open on November 2nd. This is a very popular place to buy oliebollen. Oliebollen (literally “oil balls”) are sort of like donut balls, without any holes. They are typically served with raisins inside, unless you are a heretic like me that eats them plain. Here’s a look at how long the line gets on New Year’s Eve, back in 2014. This stand is popular! Or check out this 1 minute video.
And for the public transportation aficionados reading this (haha), the bus driving past is the old model – it is bus 61, which is a temporary line to take over tram 1 at least through the end of the year. They are busy doing work on the Scheveningseweg.
The OV-chipkaart (OV=openbaar vervoer=public transportation, chipkaart=chip card) is used throughout the Netherlands as a means for paying for a public transportation journey, be it train, tram, bus…
The card is used to check in and check out by holding the card against a reader as the traveler enters and exits the vehicle. Useful, but it can cause delays at some of the more crowded stops. When I travelled to Dublin I was intrigued by having the check-in and check-out machines at each of the stops rather than inside of the vehicle – it saves some boarding time that way, although the costs are higher for having machines at every stop.
The OV-chipkaarts expire after 5 years. Ironically, all of this household’s OV chipkaarts (5 in total) expired within a few months of each other. But this gave me the opportunity to visit the HTM-service desk at The Hague Centraal, which I hadn’t yet had an excuse to do. And of course I dragged Marco along to experience the fun.
Information booklet for traveling with an OV-chipkaart, with information in Dutch, English and German. Handy for the tourists!
It was around 16:30 on a workday, and already fairly busy inside the service area. The area is serviced both by HTM as well as by NS, the national train company. We didn’t have to wait too long to get helped. Each card costs €7.50, before adding any funds on it. Luckily the HTM worker mentioned that the option to use the card to travel by train (NS) needed to be added manually, otherwise we would have been in for a surprise!
In this case we asked for anonymous cards (the blue variety) which can be used by anyone. There’s a few minor differences between those and personalized cards (yellow variety) – the main difference being that personalized cards can be automatically re-filled when they hit a minimum amount, for instance. But generally anonymous cards work fine.
Marco and I also both got information booklets on traveling with an OV-chipkaart, as you can see above. Not strictly required, but always fun to read (for me!).
Back in March 2015 The Hague replaced the shelters at bus and tram stops. The best part of the new design in my opinion was the much prettier glass on the sides and top. The design also included new benches which have since become an issue for curious kids. Have a look and see if you can guess what the issue is:
Yep. The holes (which are used to drain off rainwater) are just the right size for a curious kid to stick their finger in. It took around a year (August 2016) for the first curious kid to get a few fingers stuck in the bench but after that the incidents just kept coming this year. With the first child they decided to administer anesthesia on the spot and cut out the bench around the finger, but since then they have removed an entire section of the bench and transported the child to the hospital (with part of the bench still around his finger) to remove it there.
Last month it was decided that the benches would be replaced using the advertising money the shelter generates, but it was still at a cost of more than half a million. The benches now use slits rather than holes to let the rainwater escape. The replacement of the benches began on May 2nd and will take until mid-July. And guess what happened on May 2nd? Yep, another kid got his fingers caught!
Speaking of trams, a friend and I went to the remise or depot in Scheveningen to see (one of the places) where the trams are stored overnight. This is also where the workers start and end their shifts.
Tram remise in Scheveningen
The tram above is being driven backwards into the remise. There’s a small grey box at the back of these older trams which tram drivers can use to “back the tram in”. That way they are facing the right direction when they need to leave in the morning. It’s only needed for the older types – the two types that have come since then are made to be driven from either direction during normal operation.