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 Live festival 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.
The Washington Post has an article with a collection of photos and videos from the storm (including the person flying across the plaza in Den Bosch, which every Dutch person has seen at least once now, and the guy too stubborn to let go of his bike in The Hague).
The only picture I have of the day is someone standing in the glass at a tram stop that night:
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.
Last week Marco and I visited the Grote Markt tram stop for a hidden gem: a 1616 city map recreated in the floor tiles and glass display cases of artifacts uncovered while constructing the tram tunnel.
The Grote Markt and Spui tram stops are found underground in the center of the city and service lines 2, 3, 4 and 6. The tram tunnel was a solution to the overcrowding of trams and cars above ground – once the tunnel was complete, the trams moved underground and cars were banned. These days only pedestrians and bikes are allowed. Of course, various problems caused the tunnel’s opening to be delayed 4 years and the cost was €100 million more than planned, but it did eventually open with much fanfare.
Looking at the area from above (from the bridge which spans both platforms)
If you want to see the recreated city map and the artefacts, visit the Grote Markt tram stop (the entrance is by the statue of Haagse Harry!). Take the stairs underground and you’ll find yourself by a bridge above the platforms. Look left and you’ll see the city map in the ground on the same side you came in on.
A look at the city map – with two HTM controllers walking away (controllers check to make sure you paid for your trip).
The 1616 map is also recreated on the wall, with the area where the tunnel would be built highlighted. During the tunnel’s construction, the surveyors were pleased to see how accurate the 1616 map was for stating where foundations and walls could be found.
As of yesterday the new metro station at The Hague’s Centraal station is ready! It connects The Hague with Rotterdam via metro line E. Marco and I were waiting for a bus to Wassenaar so I took some pictures from a distance:
The white tunnel form definitely reminds me of the design near the Beatrixlaan station. And another one:
Maybe Marco and I have a good reason to finally visit Rotterdam now. I think the last time I was there was for a WWE wrestling show… But that was three years ago, so I am sure I have been back since then. Right? 🙂
Yesterday HTM had a promotion to ride free with tram 11 so that you could experience the new Avenio trams. So far tram 2, 11, and 17 ride with the new model. 11 has had the new model for a while, but considering the route is from Station Holland Spoor to the beach (stop Strandweg), perhaps they were waiting for better weather. And we definitely had awesome weather!
Tram 11 coming around the corner (actually at the beach, so this photo was taken on the way back):
A promotional cover over the machine you normally use to check in and out. It says ‘Travel today for free’.
(Public service announcements, or PSAs. Basically messages that are freely distributed to the public because they are in their best interest.)
Trams rule! I never realized this while growing up in the US because there wasn’t much public transportation around. Or when there was, it was just buses, and I am not as big a fan of those.
Here’s the birthday card Roger made for me. Front cover – a look at the Avenio trams, the newest model. Some of the tram lines have started to use them (2 and 11) with 1, 9 and 17 next. You can just make out the top of the tram where he edited the sign to say “Niki’s birthday”.
Inside you can see a map of The Hague (at the very bottom), and then a tram service schedule on the left side, with a picture of an older, yellow tram sign you would find at a stop on the right. Roger even added a picture of gourmetten in the middle since that’s what we ate on my birthday. Finally, in the middle you have a look at the tram lines throughout The Hague.
And a look at the two books that I currently have checked out from the library:
The larger book is a photographic history of trams in The Hague since 1945 (until 2011). The smaller one is a non-fiction book written by a journalist who spent a year working as a tram conductor in Amsterdam.
I love trams. No interest whatsoever in driving them, but I love reading the latest news. Try htmfoto.net or HaagsOVforum.nl. The first one includes way more than just tram stuff, or even HTM stuff. There’s a lot of old pictures of the city to lose yourself in.
In June of this year, The Hague will begin a hop-on, hop-off tram service aimed at tourists (Article: English | Dutch).
From the English article: “The Tourist Tram, in historical cream with a green trim, is launching in June. The route connects the historic city center, the planned museum district around Lange Voorhout, the Vredespaleis and the Kurhaus together. It will also travel through the international zone, the Gemeentemuseum and Omniversum and go all the way Scheveningen.”
Tickets will cost 14 euros, or 18 euros per day, while kids under 12 can ride for 5 euros for two days. I thought that was a bit pricey considering a day ticket for HTM (The Hague’s bus and tram service) costs 6 and a half euros per day, but it looks like this tourist tram includes an audio tour which is in several different languages, including Haags (The Hague’s dialect). The route also links together a lot of tourist hot spots, so you only have to board one tram and you don’t have to research all of the routes. That could be a big plus for tourists.
The tourist tram that will start running in June (photo: Maurice Haak / Den Haag)
The tram is mainly intended for the summer months, traveling every half hour between 09.30 and 17.30. After the summer, it will only be in service on weekends or holidays. Hopefully it is a good enough investment that they can expand service a bit!
This year HTM in The Hague decked out a tram for the holidays. Here is another look at the tram, showing off the lights at night (a picture in the daylight can found in this blog post). Tram 1 runs between Scheveningen and Delft.
Last year HTM placed a piano at the Spui tram stop.
My short time in Amsterdam was accentuated by the sheer amount of tourists that clustered in the streets. Of course, being a tourist myself, this meant that my friends and I were mostly doing touristy things as well, from taking a canal boat ride to visiting the Rijksmuseum.
The comparison (in my mind) between Amsterdam and the Hague is striking. By my third trip to the Netherlands, I began to feel more at home in the Hague for many reasons, not the least of which because I found myself with some time alone during the day when my fiancé had to work the first week. Thankfully I was able to maneuver around without too much trouble thanks to a phone with Google Maps, though I did find myself glancing at the screen a lot – Must not get lost, must not get lost . . .
Near the Restaurant de Roode Leeuw (Restaurant of the Red Lion), Amsterdam street
Categories: Amsterdam, Foto's