Sunday, February 18, 2007
Back to the Nederlands
The concert was the Decemberists. A recent softer rock band out of Portland. A buddy from work mentioned he had bought tickets. “I have heard of them!” was my basic thought, sure I will go. The open band was a bit odd. Lavender Dying or similar. A girl dressed more or less as a fairy, dancing more or less like a fairy. She did have a good voice but she seemed like she should have been in a B fantasy flick.
The Decemberists were quite good. The lead singer had a good, witty, stage presence. A lot of songs about historical American wars, revolutionary and civil. Go figure.
Friday night I caught an evening flight to Rotterdam. For the second time in a week, they didn’t take my ticket on the way to the airport, w00t, trip gets cheaper. After an easy 40 minute flight (which I passed out on, I am very tired at this point), I landed in the Netherlands. Breezed through customs and caught a bus to the central train station.
Stupid ticket machine wouldn’t take any form of payment I could give it so I didn’t manage to get a ticket. My train was in 2 minutes. I tried the ticket line but there were 6 people in front of me. I ran to platform 9 but missed the train by no more than 10 seconds. Slummin. Ah well, that was the express but there is a local that leaves in 20 minutes. The last train that goes to the Haag. I headed back towards the ticket counters but there were a bunch of guard types closing down the entrance. I wasn’t sure I would be able to get back in if I left to get a ticket. OK, no ticket, have to catch the last train. I guess I can always play the ignorant American if it comes down to it.
It turned out not to be necessary, there was no conductor or anything to bother me. According to my man on the ground in the Haag (Lat), I was supposed to get off at Spoor. Unfortunately, none of the stops were called Spoor. Turns out that is another name for Den Haag HS. At least the train conductor said it over the loudspeaker. I got off and was heartened to find Lat after an easy couple of blocks walk.
We hit the hostel to drop my stuff. Small room, small bathroom but clean and safe. Not the ritz by any means but not bad for a family traveling on a budget. They were very strict about quiet times and such. I had to give them a license in order to get a key that would let me in after 10pm and we had to renew it daily.
We headed out and walked to the central area in about 10 minutes. Stopped at a little Turkish? Lebanese? Place for dinner as most everything else was closed. Den Haag closes early I guess, after dinner we couldn’t find anywhere open.
Slept in a bit the next morn and didn’t really get moving until early afternoon. What to do, what to do? We were split between the Escher museum and the beach. Swayed to the beach by the testimony of some local that Lat met, “It is everything the Dutch love about Holland”. How can we miss that? Also, the tram to that takes us past the Peace Palace and other land marks. Since it was raining, this seemed to be the best way to see Den Haag sights and not get pneumonia.
The beach was like a slightly modern version of the boardwalks on the Jersey shore. They did a very nice job of having a nice, clean, wide open beach area right next to the tourist boardwalk, with its restaurants and entertainment. Near each other but still separated by the railing, each was done well.
We wandered around the beach for a bit and got some grub. Not much to say about Dutch food actually. Lots of fried tubes of indeterminate edible substances. Most of the ones I have tried are pretty good but they don’t exactly seem healthy.
Hit a couple bars and what not in the evening, nothing too notable. Every now and then I would still get a hit of New York City similarity. Or I guess it was the Dutch roots of NY that caught my attention. This town does close early though, come 1:30 everything was closed.
Woke the next morn and decided to just head back and spend the day in Rotterdam. A really easy, 20 minutes train ride from the Haag gets us to Rotterdam and a short cab gets us to Lat’s hotel. We dropped our stuff and headed out towards the EuroMast. In the summer you can rappel from this thing but that was closed for now. It is still a destination and it was close so we headed that way.
The walk to the Euromast took us through a nice little park, very idealic place. The Euromast was on the other end of the park and we went up top. It reminded me a bit of the space needle in Seattle, especially as it was pretty grey and overcast. We had a small meal with a great view in the restaurant. We tried to wander around and find a place I had found last time I was in Rotterdam (with the good pool tables) but my memory was a bit shot and we went exactly the wrong way. It started to rain too so we kind of just ducked in the first pub we saw.
I doubt I will really get the chance to live out there but Rotterdam may be the only burb I could consider living in. A burb in that Amsterdam is the main attraction but it is also easy and close by train that living in Rotterdam could offer enough to do day to day. When you want something more, you can always just hop a train to Amsterdam. Never thought I could consider living in a burb, but these ones are different.
Before we knew it, it was time for my flight so I headed over and caught an easy flight back to London and got ready for a really busy week.