Weekends in and around Den Haag

I’ve linked to a music video further down this post – if you want to read and listen at the same time, ctrl-f Typhoon, and you’ll find the song. 

So, I’ve settled into more of a routine over the past week, and am somewhat getting used to living in Den Haag. And (don’t worry, Mom!) I’m making friends! It’s been pretty cool meeting people from all different parts of the world, and this past weekend, we actually had a group of us from every continent (except Australia, but who wants Australians around anyways, am I right?).

France, Italy, Canada, USA, Canada, Canada, South Africa, Russia, Colombia. How United Nations of us!

From left to right: Representing France, Italy, Canada, USA, Canada, Canada, South Africa, Russia, Colombia. How United Nations of us!

Last Sunday, the finals for the men’s side of the World Beach Volleyball Championships were held in The Hague, so Isabelle (my officemate and TC III co-worker), Cécile (another TC III co-worker) and myself tried to get tickets, for the gold medal match between Brazil and the Netherlands. Clearly, they were sold out, but luckily, the city set up a viewing area just outside the stadium.

Volleyball in the plein

Volleyball in the plein

So we watched the game onscreen, and it was a really exciting finals! The Dutch men took the first set, Brazil took the second, and the third set went into extra points (or whatever you call volleyball overtime) as the two sides were trading points every serve. Unfortunately, Brazil ended up taking the gold medal (and, incidentally, the bronze as well. Canada made it to the third round but lost to the Americans), but I’m not yet that invested in Dutch sport to feel that upset about it, and it meant we didn’t have to celebrate the victory, so were able to head home to get ready for work.

Noordeinde at dusk

Noordeinde at dusk – Isabelle’s neighbourhood

Waiting for the tram

Waiting for the tram

Work this past week was also busy, but I’m still enjoying it, and I was able to take a bit of time to watch one of the defence witness examinations in the Mladić trial. It was slightly more interesting than doing 30.10 motions. Only slightly. Also, hilariously enough, I am a technical wizard among my colleagues. I have taught people ctrl-u, ctrl-i, ctrl-b, and ctrl-f and (thanks Britt) the ol ‘find and replace,’ which saves a significant amount of time when you’re not using a BCS (Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian ) keyboard. I actually use a French keyboard, which means my M, A, Q, Z, comma, exclamation point, and quotation mark keys, among others, are in different parts of the keyboard than the standard Canadian keyboard. I’m reeeeaaaaallly committed to the bilingualism, guys. So, this weekend, I did a couple quick trips out of the city with some friends. On Saturday, the international crew I mentioned earlier went to Zaans Schanse, which is a little Dutch village. It’s pretty touristy, but was pretty cute, and the weather was great, so it was nice to spend the day outside! I’m learning pretty quickly that you have to take advantage of every tiny ray of sunshine here, because it turns cloudy and will stay that way for days before the sun peeks out again.

Chambers ladies at Zaans Schaans - me, Cécile, Isabelle, Julia, Sacha, AJ, Ishara, and Natalia

Chambers ladies at Zaanse Schaans – me, Cécile, Isabelle, Julia, Sacha, AJ, Ishara, and Natalia

The village has a lot of windmills lining the river – it is fairly stereotypically Dutch. It also has a chocolate factory, which smelled delicious, and a cheese factory, which had a lot of samples – equally delicious.

Windmills on windmills

Windmills on windmills

Old Zaans Schaans

Old Zaanse Schaans

Cécile, me, and Ben, before the ducks came after me

Cécile, me, and Ben, before the ducks came after me

Cocoa beans

Cocoa beans

Cheese game strong

Cheese game strong

It is also home to the first Albert Heijn of the Netherlands! Albert Heijn is the grocery store I shop at, and it’s now a huge chain here, so the tiny quaint version was pretty cute.

Outside the first Albert Heijn!

Outside the first Albert Heijn!

Just the most Dutch a place could look

Just the most Dutch a place could look

We also took a ferry across the river to the old side of the village, which I actually preferred. It was much less touristy, and more charming.

The locks in old Zaanse Schaans

The locks in old Zaanse Schaans

Casual backyard canal on the old side

Casual backyard canal on the old side

It was actually a really tiring day, walking around in the sun, and it didn’t help that I didn’t get home until 3:30 in the morning that day (it is really dangerous for my dancing addiction to have bars stay open that late). So Saturday night I went for a great run on the south end of the beach (which is much less commercially developed, so makes for nicer running), and got to see a bunch of jellyfish in the surf. And then went to bed before the sun went down (which is quite late here, but still). This morning, I finally got to use my tiny kitchen! Literally, this kitchen is my nightmare. It has a sink and a stovetop, and maybe 1/3 of a metre squared of counter space. I love cooking so much, and I find it so painful to have zero tools at my disposal. It also doesn’t help that there are four people sharing this kitchen, so I’ve had nights where I’ve either just eaten fruit (not ok with my running schedule) or eaten at 22:30 because the people who live on the same floor as the kitchen were using it. I had wanted to make samosas today, and then remembered I had no oven to bake them in (and I don’t want to fry my samosas on a stovetop), so I now have samosa filling to eat for the week. So, yeah. I’m really excited to move somewhere with a larger kitchen, to say the least. Eight more days! Anyways, kitchen rant over. This afternoon, Cécile, Chantelle and I went to Leiden for Werfpop, a free music festival with the most bizarre lineup I’ve ever seen. The headliner was Danko Jones, who played in Kingston two years ago, so I mean, you do you, Werfpop.

Chantelle, Cécile and me in front of the main stage

Chantelle, Cécile and me in front of the main stage

The music varied from electronic to raggae/ska to punk to heavy metal (I’m looking at you, Pro-Pain). But there were a couple bands there that were actually fantastic. I would highly encourage everyone to check out Typhoon, a Dutch MC backed by a ska-esque band. He also has a beautiful singing voice – very talented dude.

Typhoon <3

Typhoon ❤

I also quite enjoyed The Skints, a band out of London that was had a raggae-ska kind of feel. The lead singer was super talented.

Lead singer of The Skints

Lead singer of The Skints

In between acts, Cécile and I found a silent disko party. Throw some headphones on, head into a tent, and there were two DJs playing music through the headphones. It was a lot of fun, and was absolutely hilarious. You could change channels to either DJ, so some people were dancing in entirely different ways. Just a fantastic time.

Cécile and I at the silent disko

Cécile and I at the silent disko

It was such a great day, and it’s so nice living somewhere where I can hop on a train for twenty minutes to go to a festival, and come home that night. Everywhere in the world should have convenient trains that are always on time. It’s something the Dutch just do right. I (unfortunately) have a computer training thing for our e-Court system tomorrow morning… though I am mistress of the ctrl-commands, I should probably rest up for this, because new technology scares me. I actually have a pretty crazy couple weeks coming up – Cécile and I are planning a trip up to the north for the upcoming long weekend, and then next Tuesday I leave for Oslo until the 26th. That, plus moving to house/cat-sit… I’m going to have to get organized. Keep on silently rocking in the free world, friends.

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