Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day 2 - The Hague, Scheveningen, and Haarlem

Last night Corey and I went out for dinner and to walk around Amsterdam with his co-worker Bob and his wife Maureen.  They were really nice (she's an assistant principal) and we went to a place called Pasta Pasta for homemade pasta and then went to one of Corey's favorite bars, the Olde Nickle.  Good times.

This morning I decided to go to The Hague, (Germany was 200 Euros for a round trip ticket), a city to the southwest of Amsterdam and famous being the political capital of the Netherlands and the home of a lot of international courts and war crime tribunals and has huge offices for a lot of international offices for organizations like the U.N. and NATO.  

I woke up and looked out the window and it looked a lot like Day 1 - rainy.  I put on shorts and a sweatshirt and walked through the airport to the train (so I never had to go outside).  When I got off at the The Hague it was about 50 with pouring rain and swirling rain.  I was not pleased.  I didn't have a good idea of the direction I wanted to walk in so I just kind of followed everyone else.  I took a few breaks along my walk defrost a few shops.  I finally arrived at the Palace Noordeinde that houses the current King Willem-Alexander.

My pictures don't do it justice but it was too cold to cross the street.

I figured I should do at least one touristy thing in The Hague so I visited the Gallery of Prince Willem V.  He opened the first public art gallery in the Netherlands when he had this built across from the palace.  There were a lot of beautiful paintings including a few Vermeers on loan.  They arranged all the paintings the way that they would have been arranged during that time period which is very close together with one big painting hung with several small paintings surrounding it.

From there I took the tram about 30 minutes further south to Scheveningen, a resort town that I had read about in one of my tour books and the nearest beach.  The big thing to see was a famous hotel (that Mick Jaggar once played at), the Kurhaus.  I then braved the wind and took some pictures of the beach.  It has a huge boardwalk and I bet it's really cool on a nice day.

I took the tram back to Hague Central and was trying to buy my Amsterdam ticket and found out I was 2 euros short in coins which is just a giant pain.  However, there was a train to Gouda (as in the cheese) which is further south from The Hague leaving in 2 minutes for 3 euros less so I hopped on.  I was hoping to find a cool cheese shop or market near the train station.  I did not.  It was a cute little village so I walked around for a bit started tor rain so I headed back to Amsterdam.  

I met Corey at the Club Lounge here in the hotel which is only for people who practically live here and they have free breakfast, snacks during the day, a few hot and cold appetizers around dinner time.  We had some complementary beers and wine and then headed to Haarlem for dinner. 

Haarlem is what I picture when I think of the Netherlands.  Old buildings, lots of restaurants and shops, cobblestone, etc.  The whole place is centered around a huge church, The Cathedral of St. Bavo.  We ate at a place called and it was really good.  We had vegetarian asparagus soup and then I had some avocado empanadas and Corey had some rice thing and they were both really good.

A few random thoughts:

*Dutch sounds what I imagine English and German would if you put them in the kitchen aide.

*I got on the wrong connecting train on the way back from Gouda so I had to go out of my way and ended up back at Amsterdam Central rather than the airport.  While I'm waiting three people ask me if this is the right train for the airport.  Um, the only reason I'm here at all is because I took the wrong train but yes, I believe this will take me to the airport but I would not be surprised if it didn't.

*So far I would say that the Dutch people are exceedingly polite but not really that friendly.  I can't quite figure them out yet.

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