Sunday, November 7, 2010

On Holiday in The Hague (Den Haag) the Netherlands

A holiday in the Netherlands wouldn’t be complete without a visit to The Haag, or Den Haag as the Dutch call it. It’s an astonishing old town with lots to see and even more to do. It’s on the coast so it has beaches and boulevards galore. Hotels range in price from ridiculous to somewhat affordable, and backpackers will find their home in the youth hostel, just a few minutes walk from down town. Trains come in from all over the place and buses and trams take you wherever you want to go.

When I’m in the Hague on a Sunday, I always stop by at Crossroads International Church. It’s a pleasant gathering of people from all over the world, students or employees of international companies, or travelers like myself and tourists and vacationers. The church is situated in the British School at Vlaskamp 19.

After the service I leave the car parked and walk over to the city center, which is pleasant walk when it doesn’t rain, which it did today. I’ve made it a habit to stop at the American Bookstore on the street called Lange Poten, to browse the latest import from the colonies. Today I was looking for something on Serbia, as I’m planning a trip there next week. And I also stocked up on Bill Brysons, because traveling without a foot of Bryson’s strapped cover to cover on the back seat, is asking for trouble.

When I’m done chatting with the kind proprietor, I saunter over to Subway, which is a few doors down from the American Bookstore, and have a foot-long sub with tuna and lettuce and tomatoes, and look through the window to watch the passers by. The Hague is a truly pleasant town and most suitable for people watching.

Every visit to The Hague must also feature a walk-about of the ancient government buildings. It’s quite amazing how the general public is allowed to walk this imposing square hemmed in by buildings such as the Ridderzaal and the private offices of ministers and the prime minister. Calvinistic prudence has kept these buildings modest, and though very few Calvinists still stroll the corridors these days. Save for, maybe the ghosts of Oldenbarnevelt and Johan de Wit.
Het Mauritshuis - an exquisite museum

Swerving to the left, we soon come face to face with Paleis Noordeinde, the work palace of the Queen of the Netherlands. And right across from it is a bookstore of some note. A few doors down in the Genever Museum, or whatever the name is. It’s a delightful place full of bottled vice and a confused lady with a plumeau. The Netherlands shows it’s charm in streets like this, where a Queen, a bookstore owner and a nervous Genever lady can work side by side without anybody wondering who owes rent to who.
Het Torentje; Prime Minister's work place

Paleis Noordeinde


Gin joint

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