February 10, 2017

The Hague, a city of friendly smiles

After having missed an important celebration of two of my close friends last year, I decided that this year I would travel near and far in order not miss the opportunity to celebrate life and honour true friendship.

It was with this spirit that I left my family in Paris and took off to The Hague for 24 hours last weekend following a Dutch friend's invitation whom I met in Paris not too long ago. We connected in a way only expats do; with a look, a smile, a conversation, a coffee and after lunch we both just intrinsically knew we were going to be friends.

We don't see a lot of each other but when we do, we thoroughly enjoy each others company.  Therefore when the invitation came for her birthday party I accepted with pleasure. Who cares if it was in The Hague. I couldn't think of a better reason to travel to a place I have never visited before.

I dug up the number of another Dutch artist friend of mine who used to live in Madrid at the same time we did and sure enough she was thrilled to hear I was coming her way.

Three hours of train ride and I had entered the land of smiling faces and friendly English-speaking Dutch. No, they were not wearing clogs nor did the ladies have white bonnets on their heads but I did come across the most amazing inventions of 2-wheeled vehicles. The bakfiets is very common for transporting children, dogs, and frequent larger loads.  Another popular style includes a carrying rack mounted to the front of the frame.

The evening was spent meeting the Birthday girls' friends who were all chatty, charming and curious. They were eager to hear my story (for I had come all the way from Paris, really) and I was interested in hearing theirs. I was not disappointed, the conversations were uplifting, enriching and fun.

The next day my artist friend gave me the tour of The Hague and let me in onto some of it's secrets. We got a glimpse of Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring, admired Mondrian's floating cubical pontoons on the Hofvijver, the small lake in front of the centuries-old Dutch parliament, did some shopping and enjoyed each other company over a glass of bubbly!

24 hours is all it took to pull me out of my routine. It was an invigorating, inspiring and stimulating weekend. As the Dutch put it: Gezelligheid kent geen tijd. The English equivalent would be "Time spent together is time well spent".

Orange doors. It must be Holland!

The Hague is the seat of the Dutch government and a home to the royal family.

Every type of bike under the sun

Lovely architecture and a welcome change form the Haussmannien style

The poshest hotel in town: Hotel des Indes

The Lange Voorhout Palace was once Queen Emma's winter residence.
Now it's home to the work of Dutch graphic artist MC Escher.

View from Mauritshuis, the art museum, onto Mondrian's cubical pontoons

The real thing!

Entrance to a law firm

Strolling through The Hagues alley's on a Sunday afternoon

Made me smile!

A well deserved aperò

Even the cats are gsellig

Interior deco of the local train... pretty funky?!

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