An afternoon/evening in Den Haag

Trip Start Feb 12, 2006
Trip End Feb 12, 2006

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Flag of Netherlands  ,
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

First Eric and climbed the stairs to a lookout tower/bungee jump spot(although the bungee jump part of it was closed on this bitingly cold day in February) on the beach. We had some coffee in a cheesy restaurant- "Pier van Scheveningen" - overlooking the beach. It is at the end of a covered walkway of cheapie overpriced shop and vending machines. Eric really wanted to buy a new stocking cap but I convinced him to wait since they, like everything else in this complex, seemed low-quality and priced for quickie tourists (just like any other shop anywhere else in the world that is located in a tourism center).
We stopped in the mall next door for a second to look for more Nijntje paraphernalia for Kaley (my niece), but to no avail. Then we took the tram (I love trams!) to Museon, which is a mix of natural history, anthropology and history. It seemed more geared towards kids, with lots of interactive displays and quiz games set up on computerized kiosks throughout. Still, we had a nice time. They had an especially (for me) interesting exhibit on different "ordinary" Dutch experiences during World War II. The profiles- a mix of photographs, personal effects, and testimonials- ranged from Holocaust survivors to resisters to those complicit with the Nazis. I thought it was very well done, unflinching, and respectfully and fairly conveyed. I also enjoyed the "Religion" section of the museum, which included this trippy room that had Virgin Mary and Jesus beaded curtains shielding the two entrances. In glass boxes lining the walls were artifacts from every major (and several minor) world religions, and a rather frightening (considering the dark, strange surroundings) video of different religious rituals showing from one side. It reminded me of those scary 3-D roller coaster type film rides in amusement parks, but all within a religious context. In typical Dutch fashion, any description of the religions would try to be fair to all and mesh them all together in an egalitarian mish-mash that had the end result of making even the most familiar seem as foreign as (what westerners would consider) the most exotic religious beliefs and practices. Needless to say, it was an interesting, albeit imperfect, study in Dutch cultural views.
Finally we walked through downtown Den Haag. It began to snow, which although did not feel particularly pleasant at the time, made for a couple of nice pictures. As we asked directions on the way to the train station, a local showed alarm that we were not planning to take the bus. I assumed it would be quite a walk. Eric was undaunted, however, and to my relief we were at the station in just over ten minutes. It seems the Dutch may (admirably) ride their bicycles everywhere, but walking for any distance is another story.
A note of warning: if you are walking in Den Haag, watch out for "hondenstront" (doggie poo, to put it nicely) on the sidewalk. The dog owners are nice enough to get their pets to strategically poop just along the very edge of the curb (usually), but the entire edge of the curb is full of it. Eric warned me early, so no damage was done.
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