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.
Side note: it is getting way too easy to use the British spelling for some phrases, like “centre” instead of “center”. Hmmm.
Below is a photo of the tourist tram riding through the centre (!) of the city. The Grote Kerk (literally “Big Church”) is off to the left, just out of the photo. I’ve posted a picture of this area a few times after its renovation a few years back. It looks a lot better with the greenery and stone walkways than it used to look.
Here is a photo of the church from the air (pre-renovation), from monumentenzorgdenhaag.nl. And here is information on the tourist tram, from denhaag.nl in English. Unfortunately it is a bit overpriced, but for tourists it could be nice.
On Sunday I realized that I was now at the six month mark for working at home (13 March to 13 September). I’ve got about another four months to go, unless the return to office is delayed again. I will be going into the office however later this month – to get a new work computer. That came as a surprise to me! On the one hand I’m glad as I hope it will be faster. On the other hand I am worried because it means I need to hope all of my existing software reinstalls properly. But I did pick a day that will hopefully be less busy, so I will just cross my fingers.
Of course there are a lot of rules, which is a good thing in my opinion. Only two people can share the same time slot to pick up their computer, you need to wait in reception to get picked up, you can’t wander around (with the exception of getting coffee, since hey, they aren’t evil), you need advance permission to visit your desk, etc. etc. etc.
Let’s go for some public transportation related news today:
Erasmusbrug closed after overhead tram cabling collapses from dutchnews.nl. This happened yesterday morning. It sounds really bad, but luckily there were no injuries. The bridge was re-closing (after having opened for ship traffic) when the cabling fell down. The bridge was able to re-open for pedestrians and cyclists on Monday evening.
A campaign by the Dutch public transportation branch, called “OV OK”. Two things to know if you’re not from the Netherlands: OV means public transportation in Dutch and it is pronounced oh vay so that you get the rhyme oh vay oh kay. See also this article from ov-nl.nl: Het licht staat op groen voor het openbaar vervoer (Public transportation gets the green light). I can see where they are coming from, to a degree. While we are told to work from home as much as possible, we are currently allowed to use public transportation. The rules are that you need to wear a face mask and that you should avoid rush hour wherever possible. But for now I view it as something to use if absolutely necessary (even though it pains me to say that, as I love riding in trams!)
And I now realize my American readers might be slightly confused: courgette is zucchini. Courgette is more often used in French and British English, while zucchini is used in American English. But since I didn’t really cook with zucchini when I lived in the States, it will forever be courgette for me.
The beer… ah, yes, the beer. That is a gift from a coworker. It’s a beer from a brewery here in The Hague. Eiber is another word for stork, which is also featured in The Hague’s crest of arms. This beer was brewed in honor of the beer makers’ daughter, born in March. See a photo of her at indebuurt.nl. And it is tasty! Marco and I were thrilled with this gift.
Before this weekend, the last time I was in a tram was 13 March. Three months ago. I would have considered that unheard of before this corona pandemic started.
However on Friday morning I took tram 17 to Rijswijk after the morning rush hour. I’ve ridden at that time before, so I fairly certain it would not be busy. And I was right – it wasn’t. (Whew.)
It wasn’t too special, except that I almost forgot to check in. It’s definitely been a while. Everyone wore a face mask as required. And boy, did I have to get used to wearing one! I was glad to not have my glasses on otherwise I would have to worry about them fogging up. But it was instantly warm and I instantly wanted to take it off. But I survived. I can’t imagine wearing one at every moment that you are outside, but I know a lot of countries require that.
I also took the tram on Saturday, this time tram 3, for the blood donation appointment I wrote about yesterday. That one was fairly empty at 08:20 when I went to the appointment, but was definitely busy when I came back around 09:45. It’s nothing compared to the pre-corona traffic, and was still at acceptable levels for social distancing, but it still felt weird.
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.
The Netherlands celebrated the five year reign of Willem-Alexander Thursday night and Friday, with King’s Night and King’s Day. I can’t believe it has been that long. I still remember seeing the live, breaking news of Princess Beatrix abdicating the throne (video with English subtitles). I had barely been in the Netherlands a month, and was watching the news without having a clue what she was saying. There are no subtitles on live TV unfortunately…
First, we’ll start with the carnival at the Malieveld which is held every year around this day:
I could probably handle this ride.
Nope. Won’t be going on this one. It was pretty cool to watch though.
And then you had The Life I Livefestival in The Hague, held every year on King’s night. A dozen or so music stages are set up throughout the city centre.
A smaller stage
Here is a much larger set up, at Het Plein (literally ‘the plaza’)
The fountain at Het Buitenhof, with the Ferris wheel from the previously mentioned carnival at the Maliveld in the background
And finally, a historic tram passing by during King’s Day on Friday
I still need to buy something orange for King’s Day. I’ve managed to not do that in the 5+ years I have been here. Related, amusing blog post about orange clothes and King’s Day: The King Size King’s Day T-Shirt blog post over at the Invading Holland blog.
On Thursday Europe was hit with a “wind storm”, which sounds a lot wussier than it actually was. Not much rain, but it still managed to bring the country to a halt for the day. The good (or bad) news was that the peak of the storm was around 11am, which meant that most people were able to get into work. But getting home was another matter entirely…
By about 10 or 10:30am The Hague tram system was shut down. Not surprising, since about 15 minutes before the shutdown someone tweeted a photo of a tram shelter’s roof after it flew off in the wind. Two glass panels actually – the second one is behind the right tram shelter. (Here’s a look at a tram stop roof in better times.) The buses shut down about 15 minutes after the trams.