First Impressions

Diogenes's picture

We have reached our one month anniversary here in Den Haag. So far I really like it. It's very quiet, since so many people use bikes to get about. And everything is close. The shopping, if you like that sort of thing, is amazing.

Living Room

We have an apartment rented starting June. It's big and sunny, with windows on both ends, 9 foot ceilings, (standard here), 2 balconies, and a bathtub, which seems to be a bit of a luxury here.

Below is a picture of the bathroom. I was a little confused about the toilet shown, because it didn't look like a great flusher. I figured it must be some kind of European water fountain for dogs.

bathroom (5K)

My lovely wife, who is French, and has travelled the world, explained that this is actually a Bidet. She also explained how it is used. It hasn't been used.

kitchen (6K)

This is our kitchen. Almost all stoves here are natural gas. I have only seen one electric range here. This is a good thing. I like gas stoves. And I really regret leaving our gas BBQ behind in Canada. DOH!

I later explained to my lovely wife, after dinner was burned, that adjusting the heat on a gas stove involves looking at the size of the flame and almost nothing to do with the position on the dial (like electric stoves).

She knows about bidets, I know about gas stoves. We obviously both need each other to survive here.

Walk-in closets? Sorry, this is Europe - it's more like walk in with your closets, if you want any clothes storage. We may have to purchase some wardrobes here.

It's a 2 minute walk to the tram and the line that serves us also stops at the train station. So it's cheap, fast, and easy to get to and from the airport or wherever.

The Passage

The pace and rhythm here is like a small town, but the selection is Big City.

Very few shops are open 7 days a week, Sundays or holidays. Almost every shop is closed by 6:00, except restaurants, which might be open when you finally pay them a visit. And it seems most shops are inclined to close early if the weather is nice.

You quickly learn to plan ahead.

You pack your own bags at many places. Some shops and restaurants are cash only. But there are lots of open spaces, plazas, and sidewalk cafes to relax and savour life.


Julie bought a bike (3 speeds) and cycles to work. I can't wait for mine to arrive. It might be a little embarassing though. Riding a 24 speed here is kind of like driving a Hummer in Calgary to handle the speed bumps at Crowfoot Village. But I digress.

Some things are expensive here, others are not. The GST (they call it VAT) is 19% and is included in the price. Even with that taken into account, milk, eggs and bread are about the same price as in Calgary, beef is more (and not as good), chicken is less and maybe better.

Wine and cheese are about 2/3 the price in Calgary, sometimes even 1/2 the price. And the cheese is fantastic!


And the flowers! A bouquet of 20 roses (why would you want only a dozen?) cost €3.50 - that's about $5.30 CDN.

We set up a bank account with no money to deposit. In London, where they are very concerned about money laundering, we were advised to just use our banks in Canada for the whole time we lived there.

We applied for a residency permit yesterday, which is convenient now that we live here.

In England, we were not allowed to set foot in the country while our residency and work permits were being processed. Everything had to be approved first, and to break that rule would VOID our application to live there.

Not everyone is treated this way. If you are a citizen of an EU member country, you can work in England. But if you are, like us, from one of those pathetic little commonwealth colonies like Canada or Australia, forget it. But I digress

Tulips 2 (48K)

Life is simply less complicated here.

April 30th marked Koninginnedag, or Queen's Day and the last day of a holiday long weekend in the Netherlands. What a great time! Here in Den Haag, there were bandstands playing and beer served everywhere. No admission necessary.

An estimated 250,000 people were in the city center. I think about 200,000 of them rode their bikes in to join the party. It was amazing. If you come here in the spring, you will not regret joining the Koninginnedag celebration.

It's OK to buy a beer and stroll around, wherever, watching people watching you. You stroll by the police on horses, who also seem to be enjoying the occasion (the police, not the horses). They spend more time calming the horses than they do calming the crowd.

It was also like that in Amsterdam (on a much larger scale, with signifcantly more marijuana involved) and Utrecht. And with no major incidents, riots, or ugly TV news.

Life is good here, as it should be.