Day 27: Dutch 101
The Hague Travel Blog› entry 27 of 60 › view all entries
The shady Basque hostel owners were shouting gibberish at 8am, waking everybody in the lobby who had opted to sleep on the couches the night before -- myself included. I was supposed to meet up with Jaap and Jeanine, who were my parents´good golfing friends back when I lived in Chile. I phone call and an email, and I had a free place to crash!
Booked a train out of Amsterdam to Leiden (no student discount? Bollocks), and when I got there I decided to not bother them and take a bus out to Lisse to go see the springtime tulips in the world´s largest flower garden: the Keukenhof Gardens. Then, right as I got there, the bus driver dude looks at me funny (there´s no other tourists on the bus) and asks me if I am going to go see the Tulips. "Of course!".
"Oh, the gardens closed 20 days ago, I´m sorry. The return bus station is right there across the street."
Sheesh, wasted an hour trying to see some flowers. Don´t tell my buddies back home that.
I got back and checked out the Molenmuseum "De Valk" (the Falcon), the only remaining original windmill in Leiden (out of 19), and learned what life is like for a miller (not that easy, apparently). Still very cool, I´d go and check it out if you´re in town. You climb all the way to the top through these really suspect stairs, and get a great view of the city from above. I banged my head at least once on the 6 flights of stairs.
I met up with Jaap, who then took me on a tour out to The Hague, Holland´s political center. It´s not their capita (Amsterdam), so don´t go munsoning that one up when you get there. The Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery was right next door to the houses of Parliament. Did you know the Queen is actually not just a figurehead, but is very much involved in the running of the country? Impressive, considering the British Queen just likes wearing pastel colored suits.
Because it was a Sunday, there were no people out, no security, nothing. It was a little weird being SO close to where the important people of the country do business. We made our way to an Antique Market that happens on Sundays, and unless you can afford to blow a couple hundred euro, I would advise just window shopping ;)
Finally, we finished with the Carnegie-founded Peace Palace, where people accused of crimes against humanity are tried in a peaceful setting. Jaap also made me try some raw herring, a VERY dutch culinary delight. Apparently, they fillet the little suckers, and the season started just last week so everything was super fresh. I tried it.
"It´s not bad", I mustered. Jaap laughed heartily. "At least you´re honest, my boy!"
Had drinks back at their house after meeting Jeanine, then had a wonderful home-cooked dinner and had my first solo bedroom and my own bathroom for the first time in a month.
I slept like a log.