Mon. July 14, 2014:
Delft to The Hague, Netherlands
Having packed up and checked out, we headed to Bagels & Beans, our bags in tow. This time around I ordered the chocolate sprinkles and butter bagel topping (apparently it is really popular with the Dutch) to go with my vanilla latte. It was not that far removed from Nutella really. I still preferred the strawberry jam though. It was so nice and relaxing to sit there and enjoy breakfast, watching two cats hunt pigeons, albeit very poorly, they kept distracting each other.
When we got to the train station there was already a train at the platform. According to the schedule the train would stop at The Hague but the display on the train said otherwise. Adding to the confusion was that the train did not leave on time, it stayed there. It was not worth the risk, so we sat and waited for a bit. Brent noticed that people were heading down to the other end of the platform. We followed suit and asked someone what was going on. Apparently there was a power outage on the track and therefore we had to take the tram instead. Our 15 minute train ride just got traded in for a thirty minute long tram ride. Not helping matters was that the tram was packed and not well ventilated.
The other problem came when we got off the tram. Our directions were from the train station, not the tram stop. Thankfully there were helpful signs pointing us towards our first stop of the day, Mauritshuis Museum. The museum itself is really pretty from the outside, except for the ugly glass elevator in the way, partly obstructing the view.
The Mauritshuis Museum was a treasure trove of art. We got to see Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp by Rembrandt, and three Vermeer paintings including Girl With A Pearl Earring and View of Delft. It was fun looking at View of Delft and trying to spot landmarks we recognized. It was hard to get a good look at Girl With A Pearl Earring because there were hoards of people around. By far this was one of the busiest museums we had visited.
We tried to check in at our hotel but our room was not ready yet, we were told it would be about 2 hours still. Thankfully we were able to leave our bags at the hotel. It felt so nice to walk around gawking at the gorgeous architecture of the Binnenhof (parliament) and not be weighed down with my bags. We walked through Chinatown but there was not a lot to see there. Somehow in our wanderings we ended up walking by the train station. Nearby we found a liquor store. Alas the beer streak was coming to a close; I only found one fruit beer I had not tried.
We went to McDonalds for lunch. This time they had some of the wackier things on the menu. I am glad I tried the McBitterballen, but it was not good. They were little deep-fried balls of mayo/cheese with bits of beef. The frites sauce on the side was mayonnaise but with dill flavour- slightly better, but I still prefer ketchup. Even with our pit stop for lunch we had 40 minutes of time to kill.
We wandered in the opposite direction this time. We stopped at grocery store but it turned out to be a healthy one, a no-go for soda. We tried Marks & Spencer (the rich people’s grocery store) but they had a small crappy selection with nothing fancy, just store brand soda. I also found it weird that they had an adjoining clothing shop: are rich people lazy? We headed back to the hotel through the shopping district.
After we checked in I managed to tamp down my urge to shop. Turns out the European clothing stores a bit more expensive than the American ones I am used to. The downside to such a long vacation is that you run out of clean clothes and have to do laundry. We had to walk 20 minutes to the “closest” laundromat. When we got there it was just 3 washing machines, industrial dryers and a roller. Apparently we were just supposed to leave our clothes and come back. There was nowhere to sit, and it was more akin to a dry cleaner. It was also a lot more expensive, more than a few coins in change. We found a nearby park, we sat there listening to podcasts and watching pigeons. It was mildly unnerving as they would walk under the bench and I had this fear that they would nip at my ankles.
On our way back to the hotel we stopped at yet another grocery store for snacks: Haribo gummy cherries (even though that was cheating, we should have waited until we were in Germany), Cassis soda (which tasted like Fruitella) and barbeque ham flavoured Lays (it was basically like eating crunchy pieces of ham- not good).
In the evening we walked over to the Royal Palace to have a look. On the way there we passed a gated island populated with deer. It was very confusing and the entrance was secure and blocked off. Further along in the park we passed a playground, complete with zipline, it warranted a stop. We saw herons, bunnies, baby ducks and even a pregnant-ladies fitness bootcamp.
What we barely saw was the Royal Palace. It had a moat, fences, and trees all around the perimeter. From the front gate you could barely see it. Walking back I was surprised how few people we saw, given the size of the city we were in. Back at the hotel it was my turn to get the bottle opener for our beers. Brent’s sour Cantillon beer caused nothing but trouble. It had a cork under the cap. The staff at the bar (three in total) could not find a single corkscrew. I felt bad for having caused the confusion, eventually they did find it. All that and my beer, St. Louis Kriek Lambic (cherry) was not even that good. Sitting back, relaxing, drinking beer and reading I was surprised to see a fly buzzing around. I had caught one earlier: how many flies were there in our room?!