October 4th ESN Utrecht will pay a visit to the political breeding nest of the Netherlands. The nest where all the political plans are born. The Hague! Before you may think Dutch politicians are birds, let me explain why I call this city a breeding nest. The symbol of The Hague is a stork [in Dutch: ooievaar]. This symbol was chosen because this bird was supposed to give good luck. Besides that, the storks were used at the fish market down town. They were cropped and kept the fish market clean by eating the fish garbage. When you walk around The Hague you will notice the stork is to be found everywhere. For example, on streetlights and on the façade of the city hall.
The most political twittering (no, I don’t mean Twitter tweets, but just a lot of noises and voices) can be heard in the Inner Court [in Dutch: Binnenhof]. In the Inner Court the Dutch political ideas are created. The mean political organs are the First Chamber [in Dutch: Eerste Kamer], the Second Chamber [in Dutch: Tweede Kamer] and the States General [in Dutch: Staten-Generaal]. All led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte. His office is situated in the little bird house between the Inner Court and Maurits House. It’s actually a little tower. The literal translation of ‘little tower’ in Dutch is ‘torentje’ and this is also the name of this little tower. Plain and simple. Mark Rutte doesn’t fly like a bird or in a private yet but goes to work by bike. This is representative for the Dutch culture and democratic leadership. The people who lead the country are ‘just one of the ordinary people’.
When you look up in the sky you will notice that the storks are not the only birds around. You will also find seagulls in The Hague. Why oh why? Well, a part of the city is situated along the coast: Scheveningen. Yes, the town with the unpronounceable ‘ch’. Don’t worry, some day you will master the ‘ch’ sound. Scheveningen is famous for the boulevard along the beach. Full with cozy restaurants and terraces. On the sea side you will find a pier. This used to be a place filled with shops and restaurants. It was even possible to bungee jump above the sea! But nowadays the building is deserted and the pier is closed. On the land side you find the most famous hotel of the town called Kurhaus. This is a 5-star hotel and the ballroom is used for fancy events such as the yearly debutant ball to raise money for charity. You can check out what is happening at the boulevard and pier right now live on video.
You might notice the overload of modern buildings in Scheveningen. To explain this we have to fly back in time. During the Second World War the Germans used the coastal area of Scheveningen as a defense area against the Allies. They confiscated the town, the inhabitants had to leave their houses and street stones were uses to build the Atlantikwall, an enormous defense wall along the coast. This resulted in a devastated Scheveningen after the war. Once the peace doves flew back to the area the memorial Atlantikwall Museum was build in one of the original German bunkers.
Besides all this, Scheveningen is the perfect place to enjoy beautiful sunny weather on the beach. Or even during cold windy weather for a nice long beach walk. But be aware for the sassy seagulls! They will steal your fries right out of your hand.