As usually happens these days, the Netherlands broke another record today with the warmest 21 February ever (article from omroepwest.nl in Dutch). The previous record was 14.8C (59F), although temperatures are expected to rise to 16-17C (60-62F) today.
I took a walk this morning around the city centre, stopping to take a photo of the Plein and the statue of Willem van Oranje:
There were plenty of places to soak in some sun today. You can check out the boulevard webcam at scheveningenlive.nl. Fairly busy, both in terms of pedestrians and traffic.
Today’s photo is of the Muzentoren in The Hague, about a five minute walk from The Hague’s Centraal Station. Muzentoren translates roughly to “Muses’ Tower”. It’s a relatively new building, made in 2001 according to the Dutch Wikipedia page.
The statue in front also has an interesting meaning, although my photo only shows half of it. It is called “Light and darkness”. The side you see is the light – standing up straight, looking straight ahead. On the other side is darkness (see this image from indebuurt.nl) where the other half sags down, looking dejected.
In other news… did you know it was a year ago yesterday that the Netherlands broke the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded? A city in the south of the Netherlands reached 40.7C or 105F. Yikes! Yesterday the average was around 17C or 63F. That’s a bit of a difference…
Today’s photo is of the Willem II statue by the Buitenhof:
There’s some interesting tidbits with this statue.
Before 1924 a different statue of Willem II was in this spot (link to Dutch Wikipedia). For unknown reasons The Hague government wanted to instead install a replica of a statue found in Luxemborg: still Willem II, but on horseback. The original statue at the Buitenhof was sold to Tilburg for 1000 gulden (the equivalent of about 7,500 to 8,000 euros today). This replacement is recorded at the base of the statue in the photo above.
In the early 1990’s The Hague government wanted to install a “freedom carillon” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of World War II. The bells would have either been placed quite close to the statue or in the statue’s very spot. Part of the problem was that the bells would have been 25 meters (82 feet) high, which might have been too jarring in that area. Momumentenzorg Den Haag has some scans of news articles from the 1990’s covering the situation, if you speak Dutch. But in the end the plans for the “freedom carillon” were thrown out (article from cobouw.nl).
As expected, the weekly coronavirus numbers from the RIVM were a bit high: about twice as many cases as last week (987 compared to 534), 19 hospitalizations and 7 deaths. But not all of those were numbers from the past 7 days, at least.
Outside of that, it’s mainly keeping on top of work during the day and relaxing at night. But the work days do go by quick, at least!
The weather today is just as good as predicted! Lots of sun, lots of warmth. I decided to take a photo of the Haagse Harry statue over by the Grote Markt plaza:
We don’t have any big plans this weekend, which has been great after a long week of work. In addition to enjoying some sun earlier I also played around with Affinity Designer a bit this morning, working on some isometric designs.
I’m also in the middle of reading My Year of Rest and Relaxation in Dutch but I have to admit some of the humor is either too dark or gross for me. Not enough to stop reading, but definitely enough to ask myself “What the heck?” sometimes.
Last night Marco and I went for a walk, a bit later in the evening around 20:00. While the weather was turning cooler it was still a nice walk through a fairly peaceful city centre. Actually, when we walked through the (deserted) Binnenhof what I noticed the most was the silence – not even the birds were chirping.
One thing we noticed was a face mask on the statue of “Jantje” or “Little John”:
Jantje was a boy who died at the age of 15… in the year 1299. He’s part of a Dutch children’s song about The Hague. If you ask him where his father lives, he’ll point with his finger to the Binnenhof, as his father’s estate used to reside in the space where the Binnenhof now stands.
Marco remarked on the dislocation of the finger – most likely a lot of people touch it due to the song.
This photo was taken last weekend while Marco and I were visiting Scheveningen with a few friends. It shows the outdoor portion of Museum Beelden aan Zee, with an oversized statue eating herring. That is a well-known tradition in these parts called “Hollandse Nieuwe” where people look forward to the traditional start date of the herring season.
Of course, if you look really closely you can see that his feet are stomping on much smaller statues, but okay… we’ll ignore that.
After the usual visit to the statues part we headed down to the beach, even getting our feet wet (and in my case gingerly stepping over seashells). The sea water was a bit cold, but we got used to it after a while. Most interesting were the little ponds that were left behind further inland from the tides – a lot of kids were playing in those as they were only an inch or two deep. I don’t have any pictures of those, since I figured with my luck I’d try to take a picture and just end up dropping my telephone into the water… haha.
In the other Scheveningen new, the annual fireworks festival won’t be coming back this year. Why is that you ask? It’s actually too popular! No, seriously – the event was attracting around 400,000 people for four days total (across two weekends) and the beach just wasn’t large enough to support that. Most of the problems came after the event ended, since everyone wanted to go home at the same time.
This DHC article from last year has a great overhead photo showing you just how crowded it was trying to get home with public transportation after the event ended. Although HTM (the public transportation company) did say the buses were not riding at that moment and were being used as a buffer to prevent people from climbing over the fences leading to the stop. You can see the road is clear where the buses would actually be driving. There’s a security guy in yellow standing in the road to keep everyone off it. Additionally, HTM had 71 tram rides that night instead of the normal 31, and 54 bus rides as opposed to the normal 15. Still, the wait for some folks was over 90 minutes even with that extra capacity.
I do hope they can figure something out for next year though. The fireworks festival was a lot of fun, if too crowded for me in the end.
Not far from the Peace Palace you can find a lady sitting on a bench, watching the world go by. And not just any lady, but Anna Pavlovna of Russia, Queen Consort to the Netherlands back in the 18th century. She married Willam the II in 1816 and had five children. If you read the Wikipedia page you’ll notice how odd it is to have a statue here – apparently she wasn’t a fan of the Netherlands and preferred instead to be in what is now Belgium (or better yet, Russia). But okay, the statue itself is still very beautiful.
A bit further along the path you come across the Peace Palace. I had a bit of luck that day in terms of weather – no grey skies that day. (Unlike today!)
Here are a few more photos from last weekend’s gorgeous sun:
The stone building on the right is the former American embassy of The Hague, which since moved further away from the city centre. The monument in the distance is to Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, a Dutch colonel back in the 18th century.