Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Hague

After a long day of travel and an early night to bed, I awoke with the sun lightly coming through the curtains as it slowly rose over the city at 7:45am.  

I needed to head to The Hague for a meeting, and had decided to make a day trip out of it.  This would be my second time to the city.  I packed myself up for the day, and headed out to the train station.

On the way, I found a nice cafe for breakfast.  I had brood mit kaas a fresh baked roll covered with melted cheese, with a salad covered in balsamic.

I made my way to the train station and got my train ticked to The Hague.  I hopped the train, and logged onto perfect wifi to read about Hillary thrashing Trump at the debate the night prior.

We pulled out past old windmills as we passed through Haarlem.

We passed through perfectly designed Amsterdam cityscape.  Between the wifi and the infrastructure we passed, I had the thought of the the need for more government—for more public works in America.  I have a rant I will post later on the need for more government.

After a lifetime of crimes against humanity, I arrived at The Hague.  I arrived to The Hague in thirty minutes, and wandered out of the train station to a neaby park filled with swans, geese and deer.  I wandered on through the city to The Haague HistoryMus,aeum. It had a nice exhibition on the city through the ages, including during the German Occupation and the Holocaust of The Hague's Jewish community. 

 Upstairs there was a whole floor's exhibition on the history of The Hague's Jewish community.  It was an interesting exhibit on the Portuguese Jews who first came to The Hague and prospered in the city, as well as the Ashkenazi community that followed.

It was a poignant exhibit that moved me.  I marveled at my good luck at the museum find.  I wandered around the Bienhoff moat, and made my way in the morning sun over to another museum.  On my way, I passed Mauritshuis, the Royal Dutch Portrait Gallery.  The museum had been under renovation when I last visited the city.  I decided to check it out instead.

I laughed as I entered the ornate museum that this was a very different portrait gallery than the one my Mom is a docent for.  I wandered through portraits of old Dutch noblemen and ladies.

I got to the second floor and wandered in to find Mesje met de parel, the enchanting Girl with the Pearl Earring  by Vermeer.   Chinese tourists flocked around her to snap selfies.  I stood up close to look at her but was blocked by a Chinese man standing there being photographed for a long number of clicks.  He said excuse me as he vacated the space, and I replied mei wen ti (no problem); he smiled wide.

And then I had her to myself.  I stared at her from every imaginable angle, and then vacated to sit back and stare longer.

I sat propped on the plush chair, staring at the girl with the pearl earring.  We exchanged long glances as Yo Yo Ma played Bach's cello suite in my ears through my own pearl earring.  

I sat quiet like to admire her, as Chinese tourists snapped more selfies with her.  I don't think she minded, she is a bit bashful though.

She looked back over her green silk robe, and her delicate lips pouted frozen like the great pearl globe on her earlobe.

And I found myself staring at a twenty year old Rembrandt, dressed in a gorget.  The young painter stared out across the centuries while Amelie whimsically played through my pearl earrings.

It was a wonderful museum.  I left the place hungry and found my way to a nice cafe with an outdoor patio and swing chairs inside.  Lunch led to the tosti confusion, or the pitfalls at trying to be a polyglot: my duolingo Dutch studies prepared me to order lunch, but left me woefully unprepared for the stream of Dutch in return.

It all worked out in the end: I received a tuna tosti on toasted whole grain brown bread, slathered with trufflemayo and filled with capers and red onions, with some tart homemade lemonade to wash it down.

I figured out the bus to take me out to Clingendael, the Netherlands Institute of International Relations.  I got there early and staked out my meeting amid the beautiful park.  With time to kill, I wandered through the lush park of the same name as institute.  The fall weather was crisp in the forest.   Pools of green algae covered the river below in a green cap.  I watched fat happy Dutch cows mosey about.

My meeting at Clingendael was fascinating.  I had a fantastic time sharing about my work, and learning about European public diplomacy networks that I will dive into further.

After the meeting, I wandered a bit longer in the beautiful Clingendael gardens.  I caught the bus back, and then the train back to Amsterdam.  I grabbed a seat below in a nice car.  About half way through I realized I was in the first class, so I wandered on a little more to get to my proper class.

I returned for quiet night, reading comics and the incomparable The Godfather as I sipped pints of Heineken.

No comments: