Saturday, August 1, 2009

Fietstocht naar het strand (Bike trip to the beach)

The weather today was absolutely phenomenal: sunny, maybe even 80°F! Naturally, there was no better place to go than nearby Scheveningen Beach in The Hague, especially since today Schollenpop, a free pop music festival, was being held there. Apparently the entire population of the Netherlands had the same idea.

North Scheveningen from De Pier

I didn't really know where the music festival was and figured I would hear it when I arrived, but this was not so. (Hey, it's a big beach.) While looking for it, I was easily sidetracked into exploration. In the past, Laura and I have basically visited the central portion of the beach, but this time I ventured to the north side where everything starts getting glitzy. I walked, for instance, over the top of De Pier, an interesting pier/shopping mall/casino/bungee jumping structure. (Yes, that is a person dangling on the end of that bungee line in the picture at right.)

It naturally turned out that the music festival was on the complete opposite side of the beach from me, and in fact was not even accessible via the beach itself. In a country with tons of waterways, dikes, etc., this situation often happens: you're standing at point A and you can see point B - heck, you might even be able to talk to someone at point B - but you've got to ride a mile to get there. When I finally did arrive, there was decent music, abundant sunshine, and cheap beer. Life was good.


After tiring of the beach, I made my way back home (by bike) through The Hague, which is probably the least fun city to ride a bike through in all of the Netherlands because it is really spread-out and has lots of car traffic. This results in bicycles, like cars, having to stop at lights every ten seconds. Luckily, the Hague is a particularly cultured city that features some kind of sculpture or memorial at roughly those same intervals. On the Lange Voorhout (a famous street in town), for instance, I saw some cool sculptures by Mexican artist Javier Marín.

It was a nice day in the sunshine. When I got home, I thought I'd end it by picking out a nice dinner at the grocery store. I settled on what I thought from the picture on the package to be a ready-made shrimp stir fry. Unfortunately, when I got it home, I discovered I had bought 400g (that's 0.8 lbs!) of frozen crawfish. Lessons learned:
  1. This (bad karma) is what I get for not putting more effort into learning Dutch
  2. Rivierkreeftjes is Dutch for crawfish.
  3. Don't ever eat 0.8 lbs of crawfish in one sitting again.

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