Back on the day that stores were allowed to reopen (January 15) I saw a curious find at Xenos. Xenos is a national chain here in The Netherlands. The Dutch Wikipedia page summarizes it well when they say Xenos specializes in selling “mass produced exotic goods”.
Well, apparently they also had a leftover stock of chocolate letters (English Wikipedia) from the Sinterklaas holiday, celebrated on 5 December. I know the stores had to close in mid-December due to the lockdown, but still! Albert Heijn and Hema always clear out their stock even before 5 December.
Of course, at this point they only had the most common letters (M) or some rarer ones (O, P). They still had all of the usual flavors, though. Milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, hazelnut…
In other news, for the history buffs among us:
Digitalised Holland Amerika line passenger lists reveal famous names from dutchnews.nl. “The digital archive, which is kept at the Rotterdam city archive and accessible to the public, covers the period between 1900 and 1969 when millions of people made the journey [from Rotterdam to the United States] and took three years to complete.” Apparently Albert Einstein was also one of the regular passengers, as he frequently taught a course at nearby Leiden University. The direct link to the list is available here (stadsarchief.rotterdam.nl, in Dutch).
Early morning shopping was on the menu today. Early morning being in the city centre around 09:00, when shops were just opening and practically deserted. I didn’t go to any “popular” stores as that would be the epitome of silly. For example, here was the line at Primark around 09:30:
Note that this is a double line that starts on the left side, goes to the right, snakes down the side of the building and wraps back around to the entrance (the door directly in the picture is the exit in corona times). But it won’t be the first or last time I take a photo of the line outside of Primark. It is always crazy long.
I went to Blokker and Xenos – both were practically empty. I then went to Hema, which was a bit busy but doable. I did take a photo of the smartphone cases at Hema as I thought it was a cute display idea:
Those hands would also make for great models for drawing.
I did end up buying a few minor things – a few dish cloths, a new loofah, a spicy ginger tea and a small bag of jelly beans for Marco – but nothing too special. But still, it was weird to be back in “non-essential” stores again. Oh, and I randomly saw a coworker who I’ve spoken with once (!) in the last year. That was strange too. We had a short conversation in Dutch and then parted ways again.
Over the weekend I went to Xenos, a local store, to purchase additional face masks. That particular mission was successful, luckily. I also spent a few minutes staring at all of the holiday displays in the store. Halloween, Sinterklaas (December 5) and Christmas all in one day. I’m sure if they celebrated Thanksgiving in this country you would have seen turkeys as well.
Okay. I’ll admit Halloween is not that big in the Netherlands. Each year you see one or two more stores with a small selection of items. And why am I thinking of Halloween you ask? Marco took some photos of a new Halloween display at the local Xenos:
Of course the best part of Halloween is the candy, but Marco said those display shelves were still empty and hadn’t been filled yet. Here’s hoping it happens soon!
And thanks to the Halloween display I’m transported back to our 2017 Disneyland Paris trip (Marco, Roger and I) where Frontierland was decorated in the style of the Pixar film Coco for Halloween:
Here’s a “Hmm. I never thought of that.” link for you:
I think it is apt that ‘Xenos’ means strange in Greek. This store in The Hague manages to capture strange very well, although most of the purchases are of the more mundane variety. For example, here is licorice flavored popcorn:
And, slightly less strange, Danish cookies with the tin branded with an emoji theme. The cookies themselves look normal, though.
And in good news: Germany picks up costs for Dutch Covid-19 patients treated in German ICUs (nltimes.nl). The bill was about 20 million euros. As the German minister of health said back in April: “Europe stands together, even in times of crises”. I’m not sure that has always been true this year, but it is a nice sentiment. They are also paying the bills for Covid-19 patients from Belgium, France, Italy and Spain who were treated in Germany.
This morning Marco and I woke up early (ish!) as we wanted to call IND before the wait times increased. It is 10 cents per minute, so… But when Marco called at 9AM he heard a recorded message that the IND had technical difficulties and to call back later. Long story short, he was able to get a hold of live person after 11AM or so.
As it was the Christmas holidays, the next available appointment was January 11th at 9AM. A bit longer than we had hoped for, but oh well. Apparently since we live in the Hague we don’t need to visit city hall to register there – it is all combined with the IND appointment.
After breakfast Marco and I met up with Roger outside of the Hema, although we first went to Kruidvat (a store like CVS or Walgreens in America) and Xenos, a high end thrift store. Finally, we made a stop at Hema to pick up the Christmas tree that Marco ordered, as well as some extra Christmas ornaments and hooks.
Afterwards we went back to our place (!) to watch some random tv (wrestling and tv shows). At the end, Marco and I started to put the Christmas tree together. We mostly finished it sometime after Roger left for the night, although Marco wants to wait another night before letting me take a picture since he is a bit of a perfectionist about such things it seems. 😉