Vacation Photos, Part 1 – The Hague (that’s in The Netherlands, ya’ll)

Sorry it has taken me so long to get photos up from our recent trip. I’ve had trouble wrapping my head around how to get started. We visited seven cities in 16 days and took over 1,500 photos. I wasn’t quite sure how to put it all together, but I think I’ve finally decided to break it down by city. So first up is The Hague in the Netherlands. The Complete Package had to go for business, so I happily tagged along. We flew direct from Houston to Amsterdam and took the train out to The Hague. First stop – the Hilton Hotel near the city center. I have to say, I loved just about everything about this hotel. Loved the location, the staff, the modern decor, the room, and the bathroom with its giant soaking tub, slate shower and frosted glass walls. The only thing I didn’t love was the amount they hijacked us for on laundry service. We could have bought new clothes for what they charged, but I digress. I have to say, it really was a lovely place.

The Hilton Hotel in The Hague, Netherlands


The Hilton Hotel Lobby


Deluxe King Bed Room at the Hilton


Oh, how I loved this bathroom

The Complete Package and I arrived on a Saturday morning, which gave us two days to be tourists together. One of the places he took me to was Scheveningen, a resort town on the North Sea (and a quick 10 minute tram ride from The Hague). In the summer, this place is crowded with beach lovers and swimmers.

Scheveningen's North Sea shore

In November, it’s cold and rainy, but still beautiful. And we had the bonus surprise of running into Sinterklaas and Black Pieter. I had never heard of this combination, but it is a holiday tradition here. Legend has it that Sinterklaas and Black Pieter come over to The Netherlands by boat from Spain prior to Christmas. Sinterklaas rewards the children who are good. Black Pieter takes the bad kids back to Spain. It’s an interesting tradition that dates back over 200 years. You can read more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinterklaas

Sinterklaas & Black Pieter visit the kids on the Scheveningen boardwalk.

We found them just outside the Kurhaus Hotel, with it’s stunning architecture and views of the North Sea. A stroll through this hotel is a trip back in time. They knew we were tourists because my jaw kept hitting the floor.

High Tea at the beautiful Kurhaus Hotel in Scheveningen

I had five days to myself to explore The Hague while TCP attended workshops and meetings. I thought I would be doing it on my own, but I learned that another wife had also tagged along. That’s how I met my new friend Rabecca Ng. She’s Chinese, but lives in Malaysia with her husband and children. Together we spent 3 days exploring the city and surrounding area including museums, shopping districts, and a visit to the town of Delft. I am very grateful to Rabecca. Sightseeing alone is educational, but sightseeing with a friend is just pure fun!

One of my favorite places in The Hague was called “Escher in the Palace.” It’s just what it sounds like – a museum of M.C. Escher’s work located in a former palace building that dates back to the 1700′s. If you don’t recognize his name, you may recognize his work. I find it fascinating, intricate, and sometimes mind altering. You can look at it and see one thing, then look at it again and see something else. If you’re ever in The Hague, do yourself a favor and check this place out. Rabecca had never heard of Escher, and she loved this museum. We spent over 3 hours there, and loved every minute of it. Here’s a sampling:

Besides the artwork, the palace itself was beautiful. Every room featured a different paint color, murals and a unique crystal chandelier. I couldn’t wait to see what I would find in each new room. These are a couple of my favorites:


Next up, a quirky little tourist trap known as The Madurodam. It’s a miniature copy of multiple Dutch cities and landmarks set in a park atmosphere that has been drawing visitors for almost 60 years. I think most locals find it kitschy, but I found it charming. Thankfully, they give you a guide-book with your ticket and each exhibit is numbered, which helps you figure out what you’re looking at. I was stunned by the attention to detail, all in a 1:25 ratio. Judge for yourself:

I loved the architecture of The Hague. It’s a mix of historic and modern all blended together, but it works. Of course, my favorites were the older, more historic buildings with their trademark Dutch features. Here’s a montage of various landmarks I fell in love with:

The Hague's Benninhof (Parliament Building) Courtyard

Johan de Witt watching over traditional homes

The interior of St. Jacob's Church

The Hague's Parliament Buildings

Nieuwe Church, The Hague

The Escher Museum - Escher in the Palace

I have one last destination to share – a day trip to Delft. Do you know about Delft and its famous blue & white pottery? It’s lovely. The town of Delft itself is also very lovely, and the fact that they had a market on the town square each Thursday convinced me to visit. It was a quick 25 minute tram ride from The Hague, so my new friend Rabecca and I gave it a shot. Turns out all those photos on the internet don’t really do it justice. This place was beautiful. I won’t bore you by going on and on about it. I’ll let the photos do the talking.

Delft's Nieuwe Church & Market with wooden tulips

Nieuwe Church Interior

Delft Flower Market Stall

The pottery that put Delft on the map - beautiful!

Canals - they're not a cliché, they're a way of life

My new friend Rabecca - thanks for 3 fun-filled days!

Finally, I’m going to wrap this up with one of the things I loved most about The Hague…oliebollen. Oh my heaven and stars above, these are the best fried dough treats I’ve ever eaten in my life. Words escape me. They’re sort of like donuts, but sort of like popovers. They have the most decadent texture.

Great googly moogly - I love me some oliebollen

When you pick one up, it feels heavy so you’d think it would be dense. But then you bite into it and it’s incredibly fluffy and wonderful. They make them plain, with raisins or currants, filled with cinnamon-spiced apples, topped with tart cherries…you name it. And they serve them warm with powdered sugar dusted over them. If heaven is a food, it’s an oliebollen. If I’m ever on death row, my last meal will be a plate of oliebollen. I’d give my left kidney for the recipe. Okay, maybe not, but if I knew how to make these, I’m pretty sure I could rule the world. God bless the Dutch. They now have a very special place in my heart (and stomach). Next up – a weekend in Amsterdam, so stay tuned!

Tonight I shall dream of oliebollen. Sweet dreams, indeed!

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Vacation Photos, Part 1 – The Hague (that’s in The Netherlands, ya’ll)

  1. Katie

    I just want to say how much I enjoy your blog. It’s weird to post on someone’s blog that I do not know and they do now know me as well. (I discovered your blog after reading laundry and vodka’s blog on the ghost chocolate sticks) anyway, love your photos. Do you mind me asking what lens and camera you use to get such crisp clear photos? Sorry I know it’s a random question!

    • Hi, Katie. I love that you’re reading my blog. I feel the same way about Ree at The Pioneer Woman, Alex at Laundry and Vodka, Kandi at Kandilang Blog, and Katie O. at You Are What You Eat and Reheat. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting any of these women, but I admire them greatly and read them avidly. It may seem a little weird to follow someone’s blog and comment on their life, but I think we all feel that way. And the best way to support a blogger is to comment and get involved, so thanks for commenting! I never mind questions, and I’m more than happy to share that the photos were taken with my new Canon EOS Rebel T2i digital SLR camera. It’s my first “big girl” camera, and I’ve only had it for about 6 weeks. That’s a testament to how awesome this camera is. Anyone can pick it up and quickly learn to take good photos. I used the EF-S 18-55mm lens with image stabilization that came with the camera kit. I bought a more expensive zoom lens that I took with me on the trip, but I rarely used it. The 18-55mm was more than adequate. And I like to edit my photos using Jasc Paint Shop Pro. It’s a basic program, but it works. I’ve found that photos taken on gray, gloomy days look better if I hit them with the “clarify” function. Hope that answers your question. Thanks again for the question & comment. I appreciate it!

  2. Oh my goodness…those are some beautiful photographs! It looks like you had a great time…thank-you for taking the time to share these with us! I’m excited for future installments! :)

    • Stay tuned, Kandi! In my opinion, the last week of our trip was the best. It’s something I’ve always wanted to see, and boy did I get to see it! The pictures turned out great. Amsterdam is next, and then my dream week is coming up. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I got to take this trip. And I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

  3. Big Sis

    Sooo, how many cups & saucers did you buy and have shipped home??
    Everything looks wonderful and fun!

    • I didn’t find any transferware cups & saucers like the ones I collect at antique stores here in the states. And those little Delftware treasures are incredibly expensive! I did look at cup & saucer sets in that store in Delft, and they started at 165 euros (that’s $220 US). There’s no way I would ever spend that kind of money on a cup and saucer. That’s just crazy. And the trip was wonderful and fun, and a travel dream come true!

  4. Cindy

    WOW, how fantastic! I can’t wait to see more. How many pieces of Blue Deflt did you get? I hope lots so I can Oo and Ah over them!

    • Zero. Zilch. Zippo. Too expensive. As I said in my comment to my sister, this stuff was incredibly expensive. I had a serious case of sticker shock. It is gorgeous, though. I bought one little windmill ornament. That’s it. Sad, but true. I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that kind of money. At least I have my pictures.

  5. Pat Counts

    What a glorious experience! You have had some wonderful trips with TCP. I am so jealous. Keep it coming. Your travel log is the next best thing to going myself. Pat

    • You’re right. We’ve taken some awesome trips, especially in the past few years – Yellowstone, the Oregon coast, Seattle, Glacier National Park, San Francisco, coastal Maine, Kauai, and now the Netherlands and Germany. We’re very fortunate to be able to finally travel like we always dreamed. It’s our one splurge in life, and it has become my favorite hobby. I’ve finally gotten to a point where I can travel for 16 days with only a camera bag and one carry-on suitcase. I’m getting the hang of it, and I like it!!

  6. Pingback: Vacation Photos, Set 1 – Netherlands | Inside NanaBread's Head

  7. Anne

    I know I am leaving a comment on a blog that has been written a couple of years ago, but I found a nice recipe for oliebollen (in English!) and as a Dutch inhabitant, I really enjoyed reading that you liked our oliebollen so much. So here’s the recipe: enjoy!

    Traditional ‘oliebollen’ (literally, ‘oil balls’) have often been called the precursor of the donut, the popular American treat. In fact, it seems very probable that early Dutch settlers took their tradition over to the New World, where it evolved into the anytime-anywhere snack the donut is today. In Holland, however, they pretty much remain a seasonal treat: made and enjoyed specifically to ring in the New Year.
    Oliebollen can be made with raisins and currants and even bits of chopped apple, but I prefer them without fruit. A seasonal snowfall of white powdered sugar and earthy ground cinnamon are a must, however.

    Prep Time: 20 minutes

    Cook Time: 30 minutes

    Rising time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

    Total Time: 2 hours

    Yield: Makes enough for ten people.

    Ingredients:
    •1 tsp sugar
    •2 small packets of (instant) dry yeast
    •4 cups flour (400 g)
    •1/4 cup sugar (50 g)
    •2 eggs
    •2 cups milk (475 ml)
    •1 tsp salt
    •8 cups vegetable/sunflower oil (2 liters)
    •——-
    •Powdered sugar
    •Ground cinnamon

    Preparation:

    In a small bowl, mix the teaspoon of sugar into 1/2 cup (120 ml) of hand-hot water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow to stand for 10 minutes (if the yeast doesn’t bubble, discard and buy new yeast as it means the yeast is no longer active). Stir to combine.
    Mix together the flour and sugar in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs as well as the yeast mixture. Warm up milk in the microwave (it should be lukewarm). Add half of the milk to the well in the flour and mix until all ingredients are combined. Add the rest of the milk and whisk until smooth.

    Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel and allow to rise in a warm area for about an hour. Once the dough has doubled, stir in the salt (and fruit, if using).

    Heat the oil in a large, deep pan or in a deep fryer. To check whether the oil is at the right temperature, stand the handle of a wooden spoon in the oil. If little bubbles form around it, the oil is ready.

    You will need two tablespoons to form and handle the dough, as well as a slotted spoon to remove the ‘oliebollen’ from the hot oil. Quickly dip the two tablespoons into the oil and form small balls of the dough with the oiled tablespoons, carefully scraping and dropping the dough into the hot oil. The ‘oliebollen’ will sink to the bottom of the pan and then pop right back up. You should be able to fry at least 6 ‘oliebollen’ at a time, but don’t crowd the pan (see Tips below). Fry until golden brown on both sides, carefully flipping when required. Drain on a tray lined with paper towels.

    Sieve powdered sugar over the ‘oliebollen’ as well as a dusting of ground cinnamon, and serve warm.

    Tips:
    •Don’t store the uncooked dough for more than an hour or two (covered with a damp dish towel), because the yeast will remain active. Instead, make and fry the dough as needed.
    •If the fritters are uncooked on the inside, the oil is either too hot or too cold. The oil should not be hotter than 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Oil that is too cold is the result of frying too many ‘oliebollen’ at one time.
    •Allow leftover ‘oliebollen’ to go stone cold and then store them in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep for approximately two days.
    •Leftovers can be warmed in a preheated oven at 390 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 15 minutes or in the microwave on high (850 Watt) for 20 to 30 seconds.
    •Leftovers can also easily be frozen and will keep in the freezer for about 2 months. To eat, allow to defrost and then warm as above.

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