This past Friday we went to Den Haag. We walked around the buildings where the Dutch Parliament is located. Many of them are very old buildings where nobility and knights lived or worked. We also walked past the Queen’s office which was basically just a large white palace. We didn’t see her personal palace however but I’m sure it’s fabulous. The first museum we went to was the Museum de Gevangenpoort which used to be a prison. We saw where the commoners were held, the nobility were held as well as the womens cell. We also saw various torture and execution devices. The majority of the tour was in Dutch but our guide was quite animated so his gestures were easy to interpret. I was also impressed at how much I actually understood. The Dutch people on the tour didn’t seem to mind when he would repeat himself in English (when he remembered) so that was nice. After we walked through town a bit we had a lunch break. Some girls and I sat outside at this lovely cafe and had sandwiches. It was a beautiful day out and we found a good spot outside to enjoy our lunch. After lunch we went to see one of the only 360 degree panorama paintings that still exist. It was quite a trip to be honest. You walked up this flight of stairs to this room that was set up to look like you were under a gazebo looking out at the beach. There was sand, sea grass, shells, etc and then the paintings in the background. It was very well painted so it looked quite life like. It made some of us feel kind of queezy because it was such a strange thing to take in. We stopped in a few parks and monuments on the way to the final museum. There was a small demonstration going on outside of the American Embassy. One of our directors and a non-American student went over to see what was going on. One of the students said Ziad you go over there you’re not American! We weren’t sure if it was safe for some Americans to walk over there and see what was going on. It turned out to be about treatment of prisoners in Iran or something like that. We also saw some young kids standing by the canal and one of the boys had a towel around his waist. He had no pants on for whatever reason. When he walked back over towards our group we cheered and so did his friends. I have no idea what was going on but it was funny. Lastly, we went to the Mauritshuis Den Haag which houses some of the most famous Dutch artists work. It currently houses The Girl with the Pearl Earring which I was able to see. It looks that much more intricate and beautiful in person. I did an audio tour of the museum because we had an hour and a half to walk around it. I saw more original Rembrandt’s as well as many other famous paintings. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside so I have none to post. However I did post pictures of the Museum de Gevangenpoort and Den Haag itself.
This afternoon two girls, Dianna and Dorien, prepared food and we had a picnic at a park down the street from my building. It was in a central location of all the buildings we all live in. I had never been to that particular park before but I fell in love with it. There were flowers everywhere and plenty of places to sit and relax. There were about 20 of us that showed up. We ate sandwiches, pasta salad, spinach salad, chips, etc. We all chipped in 3 euro for the food that they bought, then prepared and brought to the park. It is such a beautiful day out, the weather couldn’t be more perfect for a picnic- not too hot or too cold. There were many other groups of people out but the park wasn’t too crowded. You could see people go by in the boats on the canal. A group also played a makeshift football game. I took pictures and posted them in a new album I created. The Netherlands in the spring is such an amazing place to be.
^Album with Den Haag and picnic pictures (so far).