Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tales of the Perpetually Late: No Luck in Den Haag and Delft (Complete with Score)

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.

*crickets chirp*

*tumbleweed rolls by*

*wind blows*
Eerily deserted.

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 zombies protesters and felt right back home in France.

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. 

It wasn't until past midday that people emerged on the streets and that the city came to life. After another hour, I stopped playing my Stork Scavenger hunt and gave up trying to find the Gemeente Museum on foot. I decided that it was high time that I consulted with a local.

"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.]

As the time was nearing close to 4 in the afternoon, I decided that I needed to get my rear in gear if I wanted to see either the Prinsenhof or the Vermeer Centrum in Delft. The tram took me back to the train station and I went to Delft.

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.]

Still, I decided it was worth taking a gander over what architectural wonders Delft had to offer.

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


  1. Wow! Your pictures are stunning. You could have made that like five blog posts. The stork hunting alone was fascinating. I would have been creeped out too by the empty streets. So beautiful. Thank you for sharing those amazing pics!

    1. You're welcome!

      It's true that this post was a bit lengthy, but the fact is that I've still got a few more Netherlands posts up my sleeve! ;)

  2. Willy Dunne Wooters has bitterballen. The Hurricane saw The Girl With The Pearl Earring. I asked her if she felt especially moved by the experience, and she said no. She's seen many famous works of art. I think she get more excited by Van Gogh and Andy Warhol.


    1. After having seen so many representations of The Girl with The Pearl Earring, I have to say that my initial excitement of it has waned. I got pretty stoked at seeing Rembrandt's Anatomy Lesson, though. :D

      And I MUST find visit Willy Dunne Wooters! Although it may just be closer for me to return to the Netherlands for bitterballen. :P

    2. Willy Dunne Wooters doesn't have his own blog. He makes occasional appearances on my blog.

    3. I had noticed the name crop up in some of your posts. :) How does he make his own bitterballen? I've looked up recipes online and process sounds pretty daunting. --.--

  3. I'd actually expect an excursion like that to be better when the streets are deserted. Better than having to wade through a sea of people and getting grinded on by the occasional stranger, yes?

  4. True, true, but I wouldn't mind a bit of moderation when it comes to dealing with crowds. Coming from a very, VERY tranquil French city, I admit that I do miss seeing the bustle of a larger city.

    So, I wouldn't mind seeing some random strangers going about and minding their own business as opposed to having either inebriated strangers staggering about the place or no one at all. --.--

  5. I love the idea of the little blue command centre guy asleep at his station in the brains translation centre. I think mine takes regular naps too.

    1. Mine team of Brain Minions has really been slacking lately. Perhaps an annual employee review is due. :P


Apparently, leaving comments on this blog is a hit-or-miss game of Russian roulette: you are either lucky and can comment away, or you are required to log in when the settings are CLEARLY set to allow trouble-free commenting (sorry 'bout that, folks). If anything, the Facebook page is always a viable option. :) -Barb