Usually, my flights back across the Atlantic leave Amsterdam Schiphol in the morning. Usually as well, I like to visit a friend or two in other parts of Europe, after debriefing but before taking those morning flights back to the US. That means I usually come back to Amsterdam a day or two prior to the flight. Which means I need to find my own hotel. I can’t afford a hotel in Amsterdam, really, unless my employer is paying for it on their negotiated group rate. (A’dam is a fantastic town but hotels are freaking expensive.)
So I’ve taken to staying in other towns a bit further out – The Hague or Den Haag, the last few years. After debriefing from my short assignment to Sierra Leone, last September, I stayed there & spent a day exploring Delft, a lovely town just next door. These photos are mostly from Delft with just a few from The Hague. Usually when I leave a field assignment, one of my great joys is simply to walk the reasonably ordered, clean and secure streets of cities in the US or Europe, by day or night, without having to think in advance about potential risks or having to constantly jump out of the way of motorbikes or loud cars, etc.
In my Oberlin classmate Tracy Chevalier’s book about Vermeer’s painting “Girl With A Pearl Earring,” a lovely climactic scene near the end of the book involves a large compass laid down in the cobblestones of the city square — so basically, I went in search of said compass, since I know Tracy does her research well. I was saddened to find that the actual huge compass, about which she writes in the book, must have been located somewhere out of sight, beneath the carnival attractions you see in the photo above. Oh well: next visit! It’s still a gorgeous little town full of history and charm, so I’m sure to be back some day. My consolation prize was the smaller compass you’ll find photographed below – but I’m told there’s definitely a bigger one hiding under one of those rides in the main square. 🙂
So smw, slt is wrapping up another lovely little vacation at home in northern California, preparing to head back to work in Haiti. Having just retrieved my computer from the repair shop, I’m able to use this rainy Saturday to post some shots I took during a day off I gave myself at The Hague, back in September. You’ll understand that – what with a hurricane response and annual planning to absorb my time – I didn’t get a chance to post any of these closer to the date when I actually took them, about two months ago. I stayed at a hotel near a palace, and when I told a friend to meet me at my hotel “near the palace,” he said “which palace,” hence the name of this post and the shots of the three different palace-like buildings easily walkable from my hotel itself. I’ve not yet done a full inventory; maybe next visit :-).
Fun facts about The Hague:
- Second largest city in the Netherlands.
- Home of the Peace Palace, which was built built after World War I by Andrew Carnegie (and still owned by the Carnegie Foundation).
- The Peace Palace houses the UN’s International Court of Justice, though not the Int’l Criminal Court, which is elsewhere in the Hague, so I’m told…
- The Hague is also home to both the Dutch parliament and the royal family, but it’s NOT the capital of the Netherlands (go figure).
- Quite a lovely little city to visit, similar to Amsterdam what with canals, good tram lines, and lovely old buildings – but closer to a nice beach, just next to Delft, and with much less expensive hotels!