Saturday, February 12, 2011

Travelogue: Den Haag - Netherlands - The Hague

’’den haag’’ in dutch or ’’the hague’’ in english is the official capital of netherlands in english or nederland in dutch, but the working capital is amsterdam. den haag is the traditional completely dutch city that gets time to sleep in the nights. Amsterdam on the other hand never sleeps, more active in the nights.

I was in den haag for 15 days on a business tour. dec.1 2005 to dec.15 2005. went by air france from delhi to france and then by klm from france to ’’schiphol’’ - amsterdam international airport.

Schiphol to den haag by train - took just about half an hour. beautiful scenic view on the way- farms, cattles, european colonies, big buildings carrying big industrial/business names of international fame.

The train stop is just below the airport, take your luggage in trolley by lift and drop trolley when you catch train. frequency is every 15-20 minutes you get a train to den haag. good cosy fast trains. don’t forget to get your money converted to euros as no other currency is accepted here. only at airports you can pay in dollars as well as in euros. 100 dollars will fetch you around 79-81 euros depending on the current price of euro and the conversion rate charged by the bank. different banks will have different rates. train fare from schiphol airport to centraal station in den haag is about 8.5 euros (a return ticket will be around 17 euros). if you take from automatic machines you pay less but if you buy from the counter you pay 1 euro extra.

Reached centraal station (or central station) around noon, took a big taxi (cheverlet) to reach to my hotel (taxi fare around 22-25 euros). my hotel was in the centre of den haag near museon (on the right) and world trade centre (on the left). a beautiful 10 storey hotel - one day charges 120 euros including a fantastic breakfast.

Transport facilities - trams and buses for within den haag, trains for other cities. i liked trams over buses as they were more economical and convenient. you can take a weekly ticket, weekend ticket, day ticket. i used to take 15 strips for 6.5 euros. everything is in zones as far as trams are concerned. whole of the hague is divided in zones. so if you cross two zones, you will have to punch 3 tickets of that 15 tickets strip. or you can buy the ticket in the tram itself from the driver but that will be slightly costlier.

People take early lunch here (1-1.30) and early dinner (6-7.30 or max 8). people are fond of going to chinese, thai, malyasian restaurants. people are good, friendly, warm and decent. i was well greeted at my hotel - was asked if i prefer a smoking or non-smoking room. room having wireless internet facility which i used everyday. breakfast was excellent. everybody uses city map here. you carry map with you all the time and ask for direction from anybody. they stop and try to tell the best possible direction.

In december all trees (too tall) are naked. no flowers, no leaves, no tulips. (tulips and momentos are famous here besides international fame ’’Holland Casino’’ in Rotterdam, and night life in Amsterdam). Amsterdam is just as free as conservative den haag is.

I could find very good discipline on roads. population is less, so due to less traffic so many roads are single lane or max 3 lane and still no traffic jams. people respect government and there rules, and government respects people. since all vehicles run in high speed and in their lanes, there were no accidents in 15 days except one minor accident where a car driver smashed another. people don’t mix driving with drinking here. girls smoke and drink openly. seperate lanes are there for cycles as cycling is an old tradition in ducth and you will find lot of kids, young and old riding on cycle.

Amsterdam has pole dance, exotic shows, sex museum, live sex shows, legal red light area where no cameras are allowed and if by mistake you take one, its film will be exposed. netherland is below sea level. tulips come during apr till sep in the year. rest of the time it is very cold.

You find lot of windmills below and huge farms when you are landing at amsterdam airport - schiphol. moroccans is a big problem here in europe, this community is settled since last 3 -4 generations. boys of current generation do not go to schools whrereas girls study. so there is a mismatch in the community. boys develop into roiters, thieves and non-social elements. you will not find any dust in the country. last week of dec and first two weeks of jan welcomes snowfall here.

Two bad incidents - on the very first day while in the market i bought a distilled water bottle (cost was bar coded), seller was an indian- the cost of the bottle was 72 cents and he charged one euro by saying that outside its cost is 2 euros. he gave no bill. rest everywhere whatever you buy you get bill.

A huge black (african) beggar around 6’’ plus all of a sudden came by my side in amsterdam and demanded 1 euro in a very scary voice.

Don’t forget to take cap, gloves, and extra caring clothes if you happen to go during nov-dec-jan-feb in den haag. you will have problems of food if you r pure vegetarian but still you can do with various breads and cheeses, fruits, juices etc. but if you are non-vegetarian you will get very good and tasty food. (a dinner will cost you around 15-20 euros including a glass of wine or beer). if you greet strangers you receive greetings in return. people are helpful. take care of your pockets if you want to go to red light area in amsterdam as it is over-crowded at peak hours. in holland casino entry is not very easy. you must have some local person with you and your identity proof and ofcourse money!!

Average expenditure per day Euro 120 for hotel room with breakfast
lunch - 15 euros
dinner - 15 euros

If you have a heavy breakfast in the morning (or late morning) you can skip lunch and have an early dinner.

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