Den Haag (The Hague) is the main government city of NL, like a Dutch Canberra, although Amsterdam is the capital city. It is about 30 minutes southwest of Amsterdam, i.e. halfway across the country. Den Haag is also where Michel, Kirsten’s brother, resides.
Kirsten and I arrived in Den Haag in the early afternoon and immediately headed for the nearest brown cafe for some refreshments and to plan our next move. The best and most popular beach in NL is Scheveningen which is just outside Den Haag and we decided that this would be our destination. 15 minutes on the tram and we were there. It was cold, raining and windy when we got there so I perhaps did not see it at its best, but still I could tell that it is no match for the beaches back home. There is a beautiful old palace that dominates the beachside and a long wooden pier, under which the raging uninviting waters churned. We went into the McDonald’s for shelter, where I ate a McKroket, which is a burger sized kroket pattie with mustard and bread. Apart from the shape, the McKroket is quite faithful to the original brootje kroket.
Outside again and something struck my mind. It is early April, which is 3 months warmer than early January, yet I am freezing my arse off. This could happen literally on New Year’s Day, when I will be joining thousands of other fools to go for a swim at this beach in the 4°C waters. I made a pact with Michel over a year ago that we would do this. I hope to survive.
We got the tram back to Den Haag Centraal station and met Michel, who took us by tram to his excellent apartment. After dropping our bags off we went off to the local supermarket to get some supplies. I was impressed with the selection of fresh, unfrozen, ready-to-eat meals on offer, not really something we have back home. I was also impressed with the beer aisle. It was like looking at the menu of Epoque in Cammeray, except that the prices were much, much lower. 4 times lower. We got 3 six-packs of different fancy Belgian beers and plenty of snacks. We were set.
Dropping the stuff at home, we put the beers in the traditional Dutch beer fridge, i.e. outside. After a tasty refresher we headed out onto the streets of Den Haag in search of food. We made it to a local pizza parlour that promises €5 pizzas. Although they stuffed up my order, the pizza was pretty good. I was a bit disappointed that they had omitted the promised prawns until I noticed that one of the small pieces of garlic was curved. It was a prawn! A 3mm long prawn! I am used to proper Aussie prawns (from Thailand) that take 2 bites to eat. There was a small girl that kept creeping up behind my chair and putting her hands in my pockets, and having just come from Malaysia I was still on full theft alert. In my mind the poor child was just a soldier in a junior thief army, perhaps comprised of orphans, who prowled the restaurants looking for loot. Then again, maybe she was just looking for lollies.
Back at Michel’s apartment we got stuck into the beers, drunk for Michel’s inspiring collection of beer glasses. I got to check out his DVD collection, which was very impressive. By impressive I mean that he has the same DVD’s that I do, plus many that are on my list. After a few beers (about the time that we started on the Quadruppels) Kirsten was a bit worse for wear and felt that the Dvorak we listened to was Star Wars related and began demonstrating her lightsabre fighting skills. I was disappointed to find that the glass she smashed was not the one that I had predicted.
The night ended with viewing of the classic Evil Dead: Army of Darkness. Kip and I slept in the loungeroom after drinking plenty of water. A good night.