Sunday, September 13, 2009

Den Haag (English: The Hague) and Lovely Dinner

Having slept very little after spending most of the night listening to Get Lucky, trying to grasp the greatness of this album, I woke up at around 8:30am with endless desire to sleep in. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” I thought: today was the day to explore The Hague, or Den Haag (pronounced “Den Haakh” by locals. “G” is pronounced as “Kh”).

Jeroen and I packed some stuff and, after a lovely breakfast, went to the tram station. Turns out that the tram takes you to The Hague slower, however you end up right downtown, as opposed to a shorter ride by train that makes you walk more towards downtown. Kind of like a totally unimportant trade-off.

On our way there I noticed an extremely lovely-looking lady walking a bulldog. Much to Jeroen’s disproval, I decided once again to behave like a Canadian and strike a conversation with an utter and complete stranger.

Life taught me many things, out of which unfortunately only a few have anything to do with women. One of those things is: striking-up a (useful) conversation with a woman walking a dog can only be achieved by first striking a conversation with the dog.

- “Hello, buddy!” I called, smiling at the beast which, in other circumstances, would most likely not attract any of my attention.

However it turned out to be a lovely dog named Shylock or something. You may be surprised that I have absolutely no memory of the lady’s name, although I did ask for it and she did tell me. But we did started talking, and she informed me that her dog is an English Bulldokh.

- “English WHAT?” I asked (myself, of course; and very quietly).

Then I realized the G –> Kh transformation. I didn’t know that they would pronounce G as Kh for non-Dutch terms as well. Some more chit-chat and our ways parted.

Got to the tram station and was amazed, again, at the accuracy of the public transportation and its schedules. Within half an hour we were already at the center of Den Haag.

So my first surprise was to find out that The Hague really isn’t The Netherlands’ capital. That seemingly-unimportant revelation was quite shocking for me as I grew up knowing that Amsterdam being The Netherlands’ capital is a common misconception and that The Hague is the true answer. You know, kind of a way to show everybody else that you’re smarter than they are.

That apparently didn’t turn out right. I went as far as betting with Jeroen (a loyal citizen of The Netherlands, mind you) that Amsterdam is not the capital city of The Netherlands, much to his astonishment of my utter ignorance.

So, just in case there’s yet another ignorant like myself out there: The Hague is not The Netherlands’ capital – it only appears as such, as most government work takes place there. Amsterdam is.

Now on with the story. The first thing we went to look at, within steps from the tram station, was the government’s building. The main entrance looks like this:


There’s also a nice fountain:


There was quite a line-up for entering the government’s complex so we decided to move on:


That’s it for governments. We went out and I saw a huge horse with an importantly-looking man on it. Turns out that was a sculpture of one of The Netherlands’ past kings. I took a picture with his highness (pun intended):


Walking through the streets of The Hague is quite a similar experience to walking through the streets of Amsterdam when it comes to architecture, street layout and so forth. People-wise, though, there is quite a difference. The Hague’s population is smaller than Amsterdam’s and people here seem a bit more relaxed and laid back.

We next sat down for a short brunch at Bagels & Beans, sitting outside in a nice terrace. Very lovely, and we ordered bagels and drinks. Life appeared to be superb. The only problem was that some pigeon thought that its life is superb as well and decided to celebrate its newly-found happiness by crapping over my BlackBerry. Furthermore, eating my bagel turned into an exercise in stealth-like eating as one particularly-stubborn bee decided that it fancied my bagel.

We spent a lovely half-day in The Hague, including some walking tour of The Passage:


… and of course, we couldn’t get enough of those fabulous terraces scattered around the city centre area, so we had some more food (and drinks), basking at the sun:


After a few hours in the sun we decided to take the train back to Delft, where we split as I went to the city centre area to consume yet some more coffee and tea. It was too much of a lovely day to spend indoors and I found my butt parked on yet another terrace.

As evening drew closer, Jeroen and I decided to hit a local restaurant for dinner. We went to a restaurant named De Koperen Pan (The Copper Pot) – a mid-scale restaurant. Took forever for our ducks to arrive but once they did, surrounded by pumpkin puree and some Port wine, it was consumed with such passion that we immediately forgave the staff for the extremely slow service.

On our way back we noticed a couple of local women waiting for their New-York Pizza orders to be done, so again, much against Jeroen’s will, I struck up a conversation revolving around my utter misunderstanding of the Dutch language, as I was trying to read the Pizzeria’s bizarre menu out loud.

Went back home, then took my guitar and went downstairs, sat next to the canal in front of Jeroen’s house and went on a 25-minutes playing spree of music that I wrote. It was a lot of fun.

Another few rounds of Get Lucky at the stereo system and I kissed yet another perfect day goodbye.


1 comment:

Laurenzia said...

Ahahah! (Gpost-again!) I can't help but laugh out loud, thanks to Pizza-menu and conversations with dogs!