So if you read the last post you know that we are moving to The Hague. If you haven’t, I will catch you up: We are moving to The Hague.
A few weeks ago when the International Baccalaureate Organization called to invite Amaia to an interview on site, we dipped into our savings and took a lightning trip to The Netherlands. Part of the trip was paid for but we hadn’t counted on buying a ticket and one night’s accommodations on less than a week’s notice. Regardless, we figured that it would be a good way for the both of us to get to know the city as best as one can in two days. Of course it was a risk because we had no idea who the competition for the job was going to be and her getting it was by no means a given. We did think that The Hague might be an interesting city for two young language professionals due to its stature as the “Legal Capital of the World” and the host of international organizations that have presence there. So even if she didn’t get this job, another may present itself in the future and we wanted to have some knowledge of the city either way.
The trip went like this: flight from Las Palmas to Amsterdam via Barcelona. Train from Amsterdam to Den Haag and a short 20 minute tram ride to our hotel. All in all it took about 8 hours from door to door. Our hotel was at the World Forum Convention Center and so too are the offices of the IBO. The first night we explored Scheveningen and the beach area. We had dinner at a little diner with a Basque name and went back to the hotel to cash in our complimentary cocktail at their bar.
The second day I was mostly on my own since Amaia was in the interview. I took a long walk around the center of the city and tried to take as much in as possible. The Hague has lots of history and culture. Much more than I am accustomed to in the United States. Las Palmas also has history and culture but it does not express them in the same way as The Hague does. It seems that Las Palmas has to remind you of its standing as a strategic city for imperial Spain in the 15th century; whereas in The Hague you simply can’t escape the old-world feel of the city.
Perhaps this feeling is due to its location in mainland Europe; perhaps it is the role The Hague plays as the seat of the Dutch government and parliament. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that I got a good feeling from the city.
The city likes me too. It is bike friendly–let’s call it bike mega friendly–and has a huge international population. Since I am international population, I already fit in, and since I too have a bike, double score!
There is a lively music scene which includes the annual The Hague Jazz festival. The city also has bars with pub quiz–OK, I know you’re thinking, “so what”, but when you love beer, fried pub fare and trivia and have lived for a year without, this becomes an interesting point in the pro column.
The Dutch are also wonderful people. Sweeping generalization but one made on personal experience. I have met many Dutch on my various tours through Amsterdam and the rest of Europe. Every single Dutch person I met was friendly, helpful and down to Earth. We have a Dutch friend here in Las Palmas, André, and he is also fantastic. The Dutch also possess an unprecedented mastery of English. About three quarters of the population speaks English in the Netherlands, it’s not native but it is scary good. So good that I don’t feel compelled to speak slow and loud so they understand me. I just speak normal-like and they catch my drift; something that does not happen in Spain.
It will be tough leaving what we have here in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: great friends, 75-degree weather all year, jamón ibérico, gambas al ajillo and papas arrugás con mojo. But moving is never easy. Of course if we could take with us what we love about all the places we have ever lived, we would. Friends and family, great little breakfast places, your local watering hole and the bench in the park with just the right amount of sun for reading. But, alas, we can’t and leaving those people and things behind also makes us stronger and more appreciative of what we have experienced. Going back to Sonoma wouldn’t mean so much if we hauled my mom with us every where. Nor would going back to San Francisco if we could eat at Little Star every week or every time we had a craving (every day). It is for this reason why Amaia and I both invite change. We look forward to getting to know new places, traditions and languages. We love discovering hidden gems, great little spots and the best place to get frikandel met patat. And yes, we would be delighted to take you when you come visit.