I have just returned from a blissful four day break in The Hague, Netherlands. The Hague is around 40 minutes to an hour on the train from Amsterdam, and is half an hour from the airport. It’s the third biggest city in the Netherlands, following Amsterdam (of course) and Rotterdam. The Hague is home to the Netherland’s parliament, and as such hosts many “important” buildings and museums (of which I visited none…).
The spontaneous trip came about after a chat I had with my friend from university, Zoe. At uni we were borderline inseparable. We lived together throughout our entire undergraduate degrees, and each morning would wake up, eat breakfast together, and basically not leave each other’s side until we were wine-drunk, listening to Lana Del Rey at 4am, when we finally staggered off to our own bedrooms to repeat it all the next day. Despite our closeness, our relationship started to change in third year, and by the time we were finished, we weren’t spending much time together at all. Fast forward two and a half years, and we’d barely spoken, until this one phone call that prompted me to book a flight to the Netherlands.
In short, it was a great decision. Nothing about our relationship had changed, and we truly had a wonderful time together. I think there are some humans out there who just “get” you, and vice-versa, and Zoe is definitely one of those people in my life.
So, The Hague; it is absolutely lovely. I’d move in a heartbeat if I could drag Rai along with me and find a job that meant I could use English to get by, which shouldn’t be too big a problem, as literally everyone speaks English perfectly.
The streets are quaint and reminded me a pretty neighbourhood from a Sims game, complete with pretty roads and feminine shop fronts. The city is quiet, although there is plenty of life there. It feels like a happy place; people say hello and there is a real sense of community. The place offers plenty to do; there are endless cafes, restaurants, bars and historical and cultural stuff to explore and enjoy. There is also a beach that sadly I didn’t visit (next time!) nor did I rent a bike, which I really wish I’d got around to.
Zoe and I spent most of our days walking around. We stopped for brunch, visited a cat cafe (literally living my best life), but generally spent our time just taking in the world around us. I was struck with just how many shops appeared devoted to beautiful interior design. Honestly, if you’re into interiors and want to come away with some interesting pieces, The Hague is for you. I could’ve bought everything I saw in Dille & Kamille, a shop located in the centre of The Hague that sold the cutest and most stylish pieces for the home.
Unfortunately I didn’t get around to trying much Dutch food; we ate in most nights to save money, but I did try some little Dutch pancakes that I would strongly recommend for anyone with a sweet tooth or a penchant for pancakes.
Prior to visiting The Hague, Zoe and I had a brief, slightly pissed, foray around Amsterdam as it’s closer to the airport and made sense to do it that way. It seemed like a fun place with lots to do. We went day drinking in a square and then found a place called Vegan Junk Food which, as you might’ve guessed, served Vegan junk food. There, I ate the world’s most delicious burger, it was honestly incredible, I’d order it over a normal burger any time and generally I’m not the biggest fan of veggie or vegan burgers.
I also have to give a shout out to KLM, who I flew with both ways. As I live on the Piccadilly line, I decided to fly from Heathrow, as it meant I didn’t need to waste any money on our fantastically overpriced rail service, and could simply stick to the tube. As a consequence, I couldn’t sensibly fly the cheaper budget airlines that I tend to go with like RyanAir and easyJet. This turned out to be a huge blessing.
I have no qualms with easyJet, but lately I’ve found myself utterly sick of RyanAir. The company claims to be a budget airline, and yet has the audacity to charge for every last thing – I’m also very sure they deliberately don’t let you sit with the person you’re travelling with so you pay extra to change seats… With KLM, none of that was a problem. I didn’t have to take a big suitcase as the company allowed two bags including a small suitcase. I was able to change my seat for free, so had a window seat for both journeys, and I was given free food and drink (INCLUDING WINE) on the flight. After this experience, I think my days of budget travel are over. I paid approximately £100 for return flights, and I imagine I’d have spent that on either RyanAir or easyJet by the time I’d shelled out for train tickets, plus extra baggage. I’d strongly recommend KLM and will be flying with them next time I find myself heading to and from the Netherlands.
After my trip, I can see why the Netherlands has such a great reputation. There was clearly an excellent quality of life and the people seemed very happy folk. They’re also all beautiful, seriously, beautiful people on bikes everywhere. To sum up, I plan to visit again, and think it would make a wonderful cheap two to three day break from somewhere that is less known to tourists than the likes of Amsterdam.