Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside...

Scheveningen Travel Blog

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Herring man

One of the great family activities in the clan Sarah Elaine's Parents, is going on day trips in inappropriate weather.  As I spent several formative years (aged 2 1/2 to 6, more or less) on Shetland, and then moved to Fife, I was seven or eight before I realised that "picnic" does not generally refer to a baked potato eaten in the car in the driving rain.  Seriously.  Going to Southend Seafront in January for donuts is a regular family treat.  Knowing that in advance will make this whole story make a lot more sense.

I actually intended to go to the museum Gemeente in Den Haag, but I was a little silly.  I assumed that it was walking distance from the centre and would be on the tourist maps you can get from the little info machines in the station.

  It is walkable - if you really like walking - but it is off the edge of the map.  When I realised this, I should have got the map.  But no.  Hey, the weather was nice(ish) and I felt like a walk and I could always check the maps in the bus stops, right? 

Wrong.  I wandered around for about an hour and I must have been a block away for the last 50 minutes of it.  The maps in the bus stops didn't have any of the streets that I was actually on marked, and I swear that the place the museum is marked on on the maps is not where it really is.  For the first 45 minutes this was cool - I saw some nice buildings, and some more nice buildings, and a park, and then it got gradually harder to view it as a wander rather than just that I was plain lost.

  So I got on the nearest tram, where I sat and had a think.  And the thought that I thought was, more or less, "why am I so keen to see more paintings? I've been to more galleries in the last few months than I have in the several years before!  I need some fresh air..." Which is when I remembered that Schevengen, the third from last stop on the tram, is on the coast.

I got off and followed the crowd up a slope and back down a slope to the coast.  The wind was blowing straight off the North Sea, which was slate-grey and still wild-ish from the storm surge a couple of days ago.  The sand was drifting over the rain-wet beach, the clouds were scudding along, my hat took off down the prom...  Perfect Famile Sarah Elaine beach weather!  I'm not joking - hot weather beaches are nice and relaxing and all, but I can burn through total block in a half hour of August sun, and whilst they are nice, they aren't very interesting.

  I mean, several hundred toasting bodies - limited appeal, unless someone very cute is three towels over.  Whereas in winter, there are overexcited children and hyperhappy dogs running around, driftwood, couples so loved up that the cold doesn't touch them, little old ladies taking a constitutional walk regardless of the sleet.  You can make up so many stories about everyone in your head.  The wind had whipped the sea into a foam that drifted up the beach like runaway candyfloss.  I ate chips and mayonnaisse in the shelter of the chipstand and struggled through the sand looking at the shells and taking photos of the waves. 

At the point when I was beginning to worry about the cold-induced headache that my ears were getting (well, I know what I mean!), I came to the pier.

  The bottom deck was covered over.  The pier is rather classier than its British brethren - no slot machines, for a start, and nowhere to buy dodgy burgers - which was a little disapointing.  There is, interstingly, a bungee tower.  Naturely, it was shut for the winter.  My first foray into strapping myself to an elastic band will have to wait for a while.  But it's worth bearing in mind for those of you who like bungeeing - easy day trip from Amsterdam!  I had a quick look around the shops, decided that I couldn't be bothered to wait for the tram, and walked back into Den Haag.  This later turned out to be an error of judgement, but there we go.

The museum was now back on the to-do list.  I followed the tram lines to the stop that looked like it would work on the map, and found out that the museum was another fifteen minutes down an untrammed road.

  So off I went.  Just at the point that my legs, who evidently felt that my brain had been unreasonable enough, started to really complain, I saw the museum.  Thank goodness for that, my legs said, and decided that they could cope after all. 

I'm going to write a proper review of the Gemeente, but it was good and well worth a trip.  Possibly not as long a trip as I made, but then, you'll be clever enough to get the silly bus, right?  It's more to my taste than the more famous Mauritshuis, as it happens.  I enjoyed my couple of hours there, and then went to go home. 

I checked the tram, honestly I did.  It was a seventeen tram, with centraal station written on the sign with the tram route on it.

Den Haag, whilst lost
  It was dark, it was cold, it was starting to rain, and I was safe on the tram to the station. 

Except that the tram did not want to go to the station.  And I was half way back to the museum before I realised that the blasted thing had turned around at Grote Kirk.  I got off, in what could best be described as a bit of a temper, and realised that I was getting a really unpleasant headache.  This was because the only thing I'd eaten all day was a bag of chips - the landlord had still been painting the stairs and I just wanted to get out of the paintfumes, so I hadn't had any breakfast, and then I just hadn't wanted to stop.  I hadn't even had a drink.  At this point, with the sleet kicking in and my peripheral vision blocked by my hood, I was starting to feel like - well - there's really no way to persuade yourself that that's fun.

More lost in Den Haag - not bad for November, huh?
  By the time I got to the station I was more in need of a hot chocolate than at any other time in my life.  And they were out of hot chocolate.

After a very slow train ride home, with my head banging, I was profoundly grateful to the lady in the CafĂ© T in the station for even existing.  So the fact that the hot chocolate was genuinly great was a bonus.  The house reeked of paint, and you could only stand on every second stair, but I was glad to get my dinner and go to bed.

Which is when a bunch of guys in the street started singing...

Still, all in all, a really good day. 

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Herring man
Herring man
Den Haag, whilst lost
Den Haag, whilst lost
More lost in Den Haag - not bad fo…
More lost in Den Haag - not bad f…
If this was made of stone instead …
If this was made of stone instead…
Scheveningen Sights & Attractions review
Schevininger seafront, with a specific recommendation for fries
Sheviningen is the beach near Den Haag, which is a two-strip tram ride from the city centre. There is a wide, sandy beach (apparently there is a nudi… read entire review
photo by: vances