Den Hague

Ron and I were taking the train to Den Hague for the day. At 11:00, we were meeting Germine, a Dutch doctor who we had met on our trip to Africa this last January. She is a sweet and kind person and was thrilled to be able to see us again. The feelings were mutual. We met at a restaurant of her suggestion, though we found out that she had never eaten there before. She had only been in Den Hague for six months doing her residency at the local hospital. Ron and I were immediately drawn to the Dutch pancake, so we both ordered the same thing. We were in for a treat and a surprise when it arrived. There must have been 1/2 pound of bacon on this thin, delectable crepe like pancake. The syrup was also different from our expectations and I immediately put it on our shopping list to bring back to Hungary.

We lazed our way through this brunch talking and refreshing our memories of our Africa trip, the plans for Easter Sunday tomorrow and how Germine will celebrate with her family, and our plans for the rest of our vacation. By 1:00, our friends Audrey, Mike, and their son Oskar arrived for our planned get-together for the rest of the afternoon. The Debjie family were the consummate tour guides taking us to the beach town close to Den Hague, where strolled the boardwalk, reminding me of my childhood at the New Jersey shore. Oskar was enjoying the fresh air and then the inflated oversized mats and castles that they have for children to romp and jump on. The charge was three Euros for 30 minutes and the attendant, an older woman was not the most gracious. She writes the time the child enters on their hand and must have a stop watch to keep track of them. At exactly 30 minutes, she was interrupting Oskar’s jubilant bouncing and corralling him to leave the area or shell over another three coins.

The weather was perfect, so settled ourselves at an outdoor cafe, where the three Debjies had Dutch pancakes similar to our tasty morsels earlier that morning. Ron and I were still on full, so we only had coffee.

When we were leaving, we walked through the lobby of a hotel that was once a historic building. Audrey, who has been studying Dutch was able to translate the plague on the wall, but the memory of what she shared has long since slipped from my memory.

Having lived in The Netherlands for going on six years now, Audrey has learned quite a bit of Dutch, and the culture in which she lives. As we rode the trams around the city, we explored neighborhoods with wonderful architecture that I had never discovered on my own during previous trips. We were so fortunate to have ‘locals’ to show us around.

On the way back to their apartment, we stopped at a grocery store; I had to buy some pancake syrup and Dutch licorice, which is so different from American. I especially like the salty type.

Back at their apartment, we had tea and typical Dutch cookies and pastry, which definitely tickled my sweet tooth with greater furor than the Hungarian varieties. We then took our leave and they walked us to the tram that would deposit is at the train station. It was a wonderful afternoon shared with warm and kind people. They are the ones who introduced us to the game Apples to Apples, which has become Ron’s Friday night social staple game of choice. I don’t hold a grudge against them for it, though.

When we returned to Amsterdam, we tried contacting Chris and Mark, but could not connect, so Ron and I went to dinner alone. They were going to go to Rotterdam for the day to visit some of Chris’s old hang-outs. He spend a semester of college studying there and had many memories. Ron and I walked the streets some to enjoy the people and then went to bed early to read.