After the King's Day celebrations, I decided that one euphoric day of inebriated and bitterballen rest was more than enough. As Minister of Transport for Holland, I find myself with the tireless duty to see how well the Nederlandse Spoorwegen do their job to ensure transportation for the Dutch.
On King Willem-Alexander's actual birthday, I took an early train from my base of Hoofddorp to visit the city known for prosecuting and sentencing crimes against humankind: the Hague.
(Note as a dumb American: during my first visit to the Netherlands, it always perplexed me to see trains heading in the direction of a city called "Den Haag," mostly because I had never heard of that city before. It wasn't until after I had returned to France when the fairly obvious truth sunk in: Den Haag is the Dutch term for... the Hague.
How silly of me to be able to recognize the city's name in three other languages, the Hague, la Haye, la Haya, but not, oddly enough, in its original language nor that my brain could have made the connection and let it clicked. It seems that my Brain Minions in the Language Learning Center were asleep at the wheel.)
I had a fine day cut out for myself, one filled with museums. I knew well in advance that the Mauritshuis museum had closed due to renovations and had a select number of its classic paintings transferred to the Gemeente Museum, and that the nearby city of Delft had the Prinsenhof and the Vermeer Centrum. My goal was to visit all three of them.
The only hitch was that I had miscalculated just how long it was going to take me to arrive on foot from the train station to the Gemeente Museum in Den Haag. Upon my arrival into the city, I noticed that its streets were deserted.
|*tumbleweed rolls by*|
Not that I was panicking but I've seen enough episodes of The Walking Dead to know where this was heading. No zombies then, BAM! You've crashed a zombie jamboree and they are wondering where the food is.
|Hey, Naked Lady, do you know where everyone is? No?|
|What about you, Imperial Lion holding a golden shield with an Imperial Lion? Oh, you neither, huh?|
I had expected this sleepy, relaxed Sunday air of small French cities like Sablé-sur-Sarthe, but certainly not a bustling metropolis!
Then I encountered a large group of
In my stroll around Den Haag, I also noticed the city had several storks scattered about it and decided to play a photographic stork scavenger hunt.
|"Hey, kid, d'you know where the Paleis is?"|
|Some flags of the different provinces|
|The courtyard within the Paleis, complete with cranes.|
|Yes, I can confirm that the Mauritshuis is indeed closed for renovations.|
|However, this wasn't the only time in which I would see this famous lady throughout the day.|
|Leftover King's day decorations in the city centre|
|The Great Church|
|I spotted a seal for Cuba's capital as well as the French flag.|
|And this creepy lady death statue.|
"Excuse me, how far is the Gemeente Museum from here?"
"Oh! The museum is far away! It's heading in the direction of the beach."
"Ja, you are better off taking the bus or the tram to get there."
"Ah. Thank you."
[Dutch Museums and Activities, 1. The Perpetually-Late Minister of Transport, 0.]
I can confirm that the buses and trams do indeed run on time in Den Haag. One bus ride later, I found the final stork of my scavenger hunt as I entered the Gemeente Museum.
I was so enthralled seeing the paintings of The Anatomy Lecture and The Two Moors that I forgot to take pictures of them.
[Dutch Museums and Activities, 1. The Perpetually-Late Minister of Transport, 1.]
I have to say, the joyous aesthetic beauty of the train station showed great promise to how the city would look...
...So imagine my surprise when I saw that half of the city seemed to be covered in scaffolding.
Living in France, I'm used to seeing projects to renovate streets and historic buildings, and thus accepted that Dutch museums would undergo some modifications themselves, but this was a whole 'nuther level.
I set off on my speedy trek to find the Prinsenhof museum.
|4:20 p.m. Time was ticking...|
|Best streetlamp ever.|
I found it.
...And saw that it was closed for renovations. I was prepared for the Mauritshuis, but not this!
[Dutch Museums and Activities, 2. The Perpetually-Late Minister of Transport, 1.]
No matter, I rather stupidly thought at 4:35 p.m. I can always head straight to the Vermeer Centrum!
|And I probably would've gotten there faster had I not felt the need to keep taking so many pictures.|
|Now, that is one pimpin' bike.|
|Nice try at hiding, Nijntje, but your ears are giving you away.|
|Some of the prettiest graffiti I've ever seen.|
|Oh mah gahd, I got there!|
Only I had not anticipated that I would arrive at its doors at exactly 5 p.m. sharp, which, as I have learned, is the national closing time for nearly every single museum in the Netherlands.
[Dutch Museums and Activities, 3. The Perpetually-Late Minister of Transport, 1.]
|Miami has canals, but they certainly aren't like Dutch canals.|
|If you look closely, you can see the girl with a pearl earring again...|
|Sculpture based on Vermeer's "The Milkmaid." (Nailed it.)|
|The church. I wanted to go in, but Mass was being held at the time. It felt odd to interrupt.|
|Hm. He seems familiar.|
|"The Old and New Church." Apparently, they, too, were under construction...|
|The Blue Heart.|
|I suspect that this coif may not have originated from Volendam.|
|I sat down and had my favorite snack of bitterballen and beer. Yum.|
|Girl with a pearl earring in mosaic.|
|Vermeer in Delft blue graffiti|
|The girl with the pearl earring in Delft blue graffiti|
|As well as this pimpin' cow.|
|Not as pimpin' as the previous cow, but still pretty pimpin'.|
|I was still in awe of the windmills that can be seen in the Netherlands. That would change after I went to the Zaanse Schans.|
|I found something that was right up my alley. Literally MY alley.|
Despite my disappointment (mostly with myself) at not having made it in time for the Vermeer Centrum, I can say that I had a rather nice time visiting both Den Haag and Delft and sincerely hope to be able to visit them once more. Thus ended day two of my week-long trip to the Netherlands.
Also: I think that I'm not a very effective Minister of Transport. On the train ride back, I couldn't help but notice the filthy state of some carriages with garbage strewn about the tables and floor. So, while the transportation is relatively efficient, the cleanliness could use a pick-me-up.
Perhaps NS should undergo some renovations as well...
Barb the French Bean