I spent my formative years living in “the judicial capital of the world”, The Hague. A place where not only can you purchase food from a wall, but one can indulge their cravings for the some of the best and most varied multi-ethnic cuisine this side of Europe. The Hague (contrary to popular belief) is not the capital city of the Netherlands- that title belongs to good old Amsterdam. The Hague, the quieter of the two cities, is the seat of the Dutch government and parliament, residence of the current king Willem-Alexander and his beautiful wife Maxima, as well as home to a stunning, picturesque beach on the North Sea called Scheveningen.
I absolutely love going back to visit and indulging in all the edible splendours that Holland has become recognised for including absolutely delicious raw herring, traditionally served with pickles and raw onions. The dish is eaten by picking up the herring by the tail and gradually sliding it into the mouth. Lekker! I had to have some the second I laid eyes on the tiny herring stall at Stuyvesantplein- one of Holland’s many iconic little street-side fish stalls or ‘stalletjes’, which are typically adorned with patriotic red, white and blue colours alongside Dutch flags. Also typically Dutch is ‘vla’, a cream dessert made from custard and cooked milk, and normally sold in cartons. A trip to Albert Heijn, Hoogvliet or any other fine Dutch supermarket will unearth such lovely vla flavours such a vanilla, caramel, chocolate and banana. Certainly worth a try.
Fries are also a standard snack here and you will almost certainly find a vendor selling fries or ‘patat’ on almost every corner you turn. Oh, and you’re spoilt for choice toppings-wise! I wasn’t sure whether to go for ‘patat met’ (fries with mayonnaise) or ‘patatje oorlog’ (fries with mayonnaise, sate sauce and onions), which translates as ‘war chips’. Yes, “may I have some war chips” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but name aside, these are divine. Sate sauce, a spicy mixture of peanuts, kecap manis, ginger, chilli and turmeric, is widespread in the Netherlands due to the large Indonesian population in the country.
The city is perfect to explore on foot and my uber-central hotel, the newly re-launched Hotel Babylon beside The Hague Central Station, certainly allowed for thorough exploration of the city’s central areas including a super cool Tiki Bar we stumbled upon called Vavoom in the Grote Markt part of the City.
So, why should you fall in love with The Hague? You will always find someone who speaks your language. This quaint European city with its cobbled floors, houses over 150 international organizations including countless embassies, multinational organisations and EU Institutions and international schools. It’s also simple, easy-going and a refreshing alternative to Amsterdam’s hustle and bustle. You are more likely to see bicycle parking lots than car parks dotted around the city. No joke. With the Dutch being the most prolific everyday cyclists in Europe, biking around the City is remarkably safe and easy as there are countless bike paths, which even have their own cute traffic lights. For the perfect Dutch day out, get on your ‘fiets’ or bike, explore, indulge and enjoy all the beautiful little things this beautiful little city has to offer.
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