It’s happenin’ in Den Haag Tue 24/1/12

The Hague is a pleasant and busy city where strangers give a smile as you walk past or they offer assistance if you’re looking confusedly at a map.

The tourist centre was hard to spot and I found it quite by chance just a short walk from the station. The clerk was very friendly and helpful, providing a free map of the city and marking places of interest such as the gates to Chinatown which are ornate and colourful.

There are shopping bargains to be had in The Hague: I barely escaped buying a pair of jeans for €18 and a ripper of a green faux leather satchel bag for €24. There are shoe stores everywhere and the prices are quite reasonable.

I had no luck locating the Australian Embassy and actually wondered if there was one in The Hague (I now know there is). It wasn’t that I needed it; it’d just be kind of cool to find a patch of Aussie turf in such a far-off place.

Four hours was all that was required to see the major attractions, including the Mesdag museum and the breathtaking panorama of Scheveningen. Each person let out a gasp of awe, often accompanied by a quiet “Wow” (which translates the same in any language!) as they reached the top step and caught their first glimpse of this incredible masterpiece. The World Peace Flame and garden, although small, are quite moving as one contemplates their significance. The Noordeinde Palace compound is enormous and it’s a pleasure to wander around the tranquil gardens.

I was tempted to have lunch at the Lyonnais Café, especially considering their menu included a main dish of various cheeses. But at €12,95 and with limited time I pressed on and settled for McDonalds again. Although a little more expensive than Australia and France, it’s more affordable than a fancy schmancy eatery, you always know what you’re getting and I figure I’m walking it off in any case. Maccas seems to be the place for local teens to hang out. Clogging the footpaths (pardon the pun) and swinging around Happy Meal balloons was the order of the day.

As I made my way back to the train station, I was approached by several beggars including one very persistent fellow who wouldn’t let me past until I yelled at him. I also spotted a few gypsy women playing their accordions on street corners and asking passers-by for money. It seems the needy of The Hague sleep in until lunch time as I certainly hadn’t seen any in the morning!

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