It’s our fifth day in the Netherlands. We’ve seen paintings. We’ve experienced culture. We’ve seen windmills. We ate cheese. Now, it’s time to get serious.
Today, we’re heading to the Hague (or Den Haag in Dutch), a city located southwest of Amsterdam. The main reason why we came here is because my friend Stephanie really wanted to visit the International Criminal Court.
Now, before I go on, let me explain that my favorite things to see and do when traveling are:
- Animal encounters!!!
- Natural landscapes – waterfalls, valleys, geysers, whatever.
- Food & Culture (or culture through food? 😉 )
Yes, history and art is dead last, because I am an ~*uncultured swine*~. In fact “legal stuff” doesn’t even make it on the list. BUT, Stephanie hyped it up for me, and she was really excited and passionate about it, and when people are passionate about things, it makes me excited about it too. So, I was excited to go!
Getting to the Hague and getting around the city was a breeze. We just took a train from Amsterdam Central. Once we were in the Hague, we found that our transit cards worked on the busses here as well. Public transportation is so awesome and easy in the Netherlands! Why can’t we also have nice things in the States? Argh!
So, we took a bus from the train station and headed to the International Criminal Court. We ended up at a building that looks like this:
We walked up to the entrance, but it seemed to be closed. “That’s weird,” we thought. We ended up walking all around the perimeter to see where the entrance was, but we couldn’t see any open doors. Or signs welcoming visitors. Or people. Or any sign of life…
Upon closer inspection, this building looked a little run-down and… abandoned?
We were thoroughly confused. But it turns out Stephanie was referencing an outdated website and this was the location of the “temporary” International Criminal Court, before its new location opened in 2015. Derp!
With a little more googling, we deduced the location of the REAL criminal court, which turned out to be 30 minutes away. Derp derp.
Another bus ride we go…
Our experience at the ICC was a little weird. Stephanie apparently had read online that the ICC was open to visitors, and that visitors could even sit in if there was something happening in the courts that day. However, when we showed up… now, I’m not going to use the word “unwelcome”, but I felt that the people at the ICC were kind of confused as to why we were there.
First, we walked into the security area and got our visitor badges. Then, we walked into the lobby area of the ICC, and when we told the person at the desk that we were visitors/tourists, she seemed super confused. She even had to ask some the other people at the desk about whether or not that was alright. Eventually we were let in, and directed towards a little exhibition in one wing of the building. We were also given those audio guide things that are available at a lot of museums. When we went through the exhibit, there was even a video camera and screen at the end that encouraged you to take selfies and post them on social media.
So now I’m super confused. Why is it that the people there seemed super puzzled about why visitors were coming to tour the ICC, yet they have this little section and exhibit that is clearly for tourists/people wanting to learn more about the ICC. I am getting mixed messages here like I am dating a teenage boy. What is this!
Despite all this, I didn’t know anything about the ICC and now I know a little. The ICC deals with cases like war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. The exhibit explained, roughly, how the ICC operates, the different organs of the ICC, etc. State parties to the Rome Statute (that is, countries that have agreed to be a part of this) are obliged to cooperate with the court. I learned that the United States is NOT a State Party to the ICC. welp.
Shaking that experience off, we headed to lunch. We went to this cute cafe called Pistache. How did we decide on that, you ask? Well, Stephanie had seen a vlog where Romee Strijd, the Victoria’s Secret Model, went to a baby shower(?) at this cafe. Because we are cute and trendy girls (obviously) who love to emulate celebrities and trendsetters, we decided to go as well.
Pistache was indeed very cute inside, but surprisingly the food was bomb as well! I had a salad and it was literally one of my favorite things I ate on this here Netherlands trip. Really, that good. They don’t have an English menu, but like every other Dutch person, the servers here speak great English and can translate for you. Or you can ask me, I am 1% fluent in Dutch according to Duolingo.
I noticed that here in the Netherlands, salads often come lightly dressed with just olive oil. Or, it will come not dressed at all, and instead they provide olive oil and balsamic vinegar at the table. I love the simplicity, and this is a habit I think I will be taking back with me to the States!
Next, Stephanie wanted to go to the M.C. Escher Museum. (Yes, Stephanie basically planned our entire den Haag day. Thank you Stephanie!) If that name doesn’t sound familiar to you, google it and you will probably recognize some of his work. M. C. Escher is a Dutch graphic artist who is known for “impossible” objectives, perspectives, and tessellations.
This was a great idea. I love M.C. Escher’s work. I especially loved the tessellations, and on my way out, I stopped by the gift shop and picked up a few post cards. I think I’m going to frame them and make a cute pinterest-worthy gallery wall in my bedroom. yaass.
After that, we headed to the Mauritshuis Museum. (dang, today is full of art and culture!! *puts on monocles*)
This museum is famous for housing “The Girl with the Pearl Earring”, by Vermeer.
As we viewed this painting, I heard my friend Stephanie say, “Vermeer truly is a master of light!” And I nodded my head thoughtfully like I knew what I was talking about. LOL. But I did find myself staring at the Girl with the Pearl Earring with appreciation for quite some time. The softness captured in her face is incredible.
What’s nice about this museum is the size – it only has 16 rooms, a collection that could take you half a day to get through. It’s not so big that it’s overwhelming. You can get through it in a few hours and feel good about leaving, and not like you had to skip a whole wing or that you went through a section too fast.
I recommend downloading the app on your phone, so you can read commentary as you wander through the rooms.
For dinner, we ended up at a fancy-ish restaurant called Zebedeus that is located inside an old church building. This ended up being a splurge. Whatever, we’re on vacation right?
The desserts we got really made this meal note-worthy. We be eatin’ good on this vacation!
Finally, we capped off the day with some beer at a brewhouse! Whooo!
All in all, it was a pleasant day spent in the Hague, a city I want to continue exploring in the future! (Do you have any recommendations? Leave me a comment, I’d love to know!)