The Hague is the 3rd largest city in Netherlands, about 37 miles southeast of Amsterdam on the North Sea. It is home to the International Court of Justice, the judicial function of the United Nations. One of the streets is named for JFK.
It is much different from Amsterdam. Skyscrapers for one, with of course still lots of old stuff mixed in, including Parliamentary buildings from the Middle Ages (see below). While Amsterdam is the capital constitutionally, much of the country’s business gets conducted here. But they, too, ride a lot of bikes here – look at these in front of the train station.
The energy here is much less frenetic than Amsterdam, definitely less congested, and first impression is it’s much more livable.
Our first stop was the Escher museum. Since the exhibit is housed in the royal palace (different from the one in Amsterdam), it’s a two-fer. We both really enjoyed the Escher stuff. The chandeliers in the palace were all very whimsical; I’m not sure the pics do them justice.
The last picture above is of the walk in front of you as you leave the palace. We took that to a business district where we had Turkish sandwiches for lunch.
We went by a requisite old church on the way to the next museum. It was very pretty, we couldn’t determine how old it was.
We went to the municipal museum next. We decided it was schizophrenic – an almost bizarrely varied collection: Dutch Old Masters from the Golden Age to why-is-this-in-a-museum modern, a huge porcelain collection from Delft artists and lots of other obscure stuff. There were pieces by Van Gogh, Cezanne, Rubens, Rembrandt, Monet; and then this huge room filled with plastic wrap – yes, like Saran – twisted and woven to make a curtain of chain links and hung in a circle from the ceiling. The Entire Room.
Anyway, here are a few pics before the museum guard told us we couldn’t. (We sincerely thought we just couldn’t use a flash.)
These two were Dan’s favorites.
And this was just amazing: many paintings in a painting. Incredible detail.
Just as we were walking back to the train station it started snowing a bit. Europe hasn’t figured out it’s Spring. A weather report was just on TV discussing how usual this is.
We took a different path back to the train station, and came across the pedestrian mall downtown – we’ve now come to expect it. Interesting collection of shops, along with something we think is odd: The Body Shop. Fast food aside, this is probably the American store we see the most often. I am pretty sure we’ve seen one in every city, even the smaller ones (Koblenz and Mainz).
We had a 50 minute train ride back to Amsterdam, then had dinner at that Portugese place we found last night. Dan had a very unusual cod dish that was excellent. I got the most interesting thing on the menu on principle: a pork stew with clams, potatoes, olives, cilantro, goat cheese. And we liked it!
One final observation for the day re: public restrooms. I mentioned early on you sometimes have to pay and how very clean they are. But even the free ones are incredibly clean. And the piece I just distinguished today: there are no stalls. Every toilet is in its own enclosed room, albeit small of course, even when there are many of them like in train stations. They must be appalled at American restrooms when they visit us!
Day 4: Koblenz
Koblenz, derived from the Latin word for “confluence” – appropriate since it sits on the banks where the Mosel River...