Saturday, March 27, 2010

Netherlands: A quick pass at Noordeinde

I don't remember what I felt the first morning I woke up in Den Haag. I must have been grumbling because I had to wake up 8.30 AM so we can catch the 9.30 tram for church. I do remember eating the almond biscuit from the ISS welcome package. I silently thanked them for being thoughtful because I wouldn't know where to get breakfast on my first morning.

After church and a quick purchase at C1000, Kaira took the group to Centrum where the shops we have to know about are located. To get to the Centrum, we had to pass through Noordeinde, which means North End. Every Dutch city must have Noordeinde street. Anyway, the street is reputed to be the most expensive in Netherlands.

Empty! And does not impress me as expensive but what do I know?

There were still a few people after lunch. Dutch people tend to take their Sunday mornings easy and many shops open after church. Quite different from the busy Manila that I am used to.

We saw this armor by one of the shops and of course, being first timers in a European country, we just had to take a picture! I imagined old Europe with their royalty and knights, though these were imagery I would associate with UK and not Netherlands. Maybe it was not supposed to represent Dutch culture anyways, but it was my first few signs that I was indeed walking the streets of Europe.

We passed by the Queen's palace which surprised me with its simplicity. The White House and 10 Downing Street have always struck me as grand and elaborate. This was our first sign of how practical the Dutch were. I actually was impressed with its simple facade. I thought, was this the reason why Noordeinde was considered the most expensive street in Holland? It could be the Scapa store across or the antique stores along the road. I still don't know.
Across was a statue whom I assumed was one of the Kings or Princes of Orange. I am embarrassed to discover that after 15 months, I fail to verify who he was. But I do like looking at it everytime I walked Noordeinde.

A carriage passed by and I was thrilled to see the drivers in top hats and waist coats! I assume the other one would be the footman/doorman. I was quite amazed by the size of their horses! They looked so healthy and well-fed compared to the puny and thin Philippine horses we have. That carriage seemed to weigh nothing them. I was a bit surprised though that these horses can just drop their "bombs" on the street, which can sometimes be a problem at night. And "it" can be as BIG as they are. Euw.

More horses! This time with the polite (poh-lee-teh) or police. I love it. No carbon emissions (probably methane ones if the horse had a bad meal. :P). They also go on bike sometimes. They do drive cars but smaller alleys, they cover with horses.

These images reminded me that I was in a place entirely different from my own. A place which fascinated and thrilled me to no end. This street became my comfort zone for 15 months, having walked solo or with friends to and from the ISS and the dorm to wherever. :)