Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Prinsjes' (Princes) Moments

I am absent from my Dutch lesson today. I am not feeling well, and I think I'm catching a flu. This time of transition, for sure this flu welcomes me to the Fall season. I have observed that as season changed, there's an accompanying bag of body pains and flu. Well, I'm just finding reason why I feel sick today :-)
Since I stayed home, I have sometime to blog...thanks that I am...:-) I actually like to write about my first enlightening trip during Prinsjesdag last September 19.

The parade of uniformed officers.

Literally, prinsjesdag means: day of the little princes...Ooh! oh! Sounds like enchanting. What is it? I went to Den Haag with my friend Lyn to see it by myself or by ourselves...We took the train which was very full and started musing around. Even inside the train, we're quite sure that those passengers are like us, expectants of the event. I had a hint, most people were older...uuhmm, my mind playing like ping-pong (table tennis)...probably these elders were of the age group of the Queen, maybe the playmates or schoolmates, or the fanatics.

Me and Lyn while waiting...

Actually, I already know what is it :-)Thanks to my teacher of Maatschappij Orientatie (Society Orientation). I also knew some trivia from my partner. But then I would like to see the majesty Queen Beatrix personally...there I went with Netherlands' flag.(HeHeHe! Just for fun, accesorized ourselves and complete the integration :-).

In the Netherlands every third Tuesday in September is known as Prinsjesdag. The day where the Queen rides in a golden carriage (Gouden Koats) from Palace Noordeinde (her working place) to the Knights Hall in the Binnenhof and reads the plans for the coming year to the States-general (Prime Minister) from the throne in the Ridderzaal and the minister of finance proposes the next year's budget to parliament. The government presents its annual budget. Parliament officially starts a new year on Prinsjesdag.

The carriage which was built in Dutch Renaissance style and partly gilded and is decorated with symbolic motifs. The coach is drawn by eight horses.

The Queen sits inside the golden carriage.

And so, at 1pm the parade had started. We stood in a very ideallyc spot at Lange Voorhout just close to the palace where we can see the royal family up-close and straightly without string attached. The streets of The Hague (Den Haag) are lined with loyal crowds, kids, elderlies and tourists, we joined in the throng and warned about the congestion.

We took pictures of course without any batting of eyelash :-)We did waved the Queen. Princes Maxima (wife of Prince Alexander, the succesor son of the queen) is really splendid. The golden coach that worth million euro was right in my nose. It was really delighting. The day was like a victory feast inside the kingdom.( I feel like one of the seven dwarfs...hehehe!).

This is our miniature photo of the Binnenhof. This was taken at the Maduro Dam exposition. This is how it looks during prinsjesdag inside the Binnenhof.

We can't get in inside the Binnenhof. The Binnenhof (inner court), is a collection of buildings in The Hague. It has been the location of meetings of the Staten-Generaal (the Dutch parliament) since 1446, and has been the centre of Dutch politics for centuries. More buildings were constructed around the court, several of which are well known in their own right, such as the Ridderzaal ( Knight Hall), where the queen holds her annual speech. Of course it was only for invited guests and dignitaries.
This day is one of the most traditional events in Dutch politics, involving the royal family, a meeting with all members of both houses of the Staten General, and cabinet in the Ridderzaal. On this occasion males wear their most formal dress, while females try to out do each other with extravagant hats ( Next time we will wear our gorgeous ones :-).

They said that during the end of the parade, the royal family rides back to Noordeinde then waves to the gathered monarchists at the balcony of the palace. We no longer wait for it 'çoz we had a lot to-do's in our list for the day. We can't stand too to smell the free cologne along the street. It was paraded with horses' expensive waste.

Inside are members of the Royal family.

Our stomachs were already complaining that we went to the all-time foreigners' favorite KFC. We found nice sits beside the glass window overlooking the views outside. Stylish lounge and the cosy lobby bar to unwind after a long wait during the parade, were our side dish for a pleasant lunch. Our meal was extra yummy that gives us more energy for our next steps.

Right photo is the approaching golden coach.

Since Binnenhof and parliament buildings are just a stroll away, we can't leave the city without a trip to its shopping arcade. Located in Den Haag at your feet with haut-couture, antiques, culture and numerous fine restaurants in our direct vicinity.
Many boutiques and shopping malls aligning along old streets. In addition, Den Haag offers majestic shopping opportunities in the historic Passage and the 'Haagsche Bluf' shopping center, Bij en Korf while all main department stores are a mere walk away. Uuuhh! We had a long time walking, thanks we had good walking shoes.

Of course, girls's fave again. Shoes, bags, accessories and scents's shops were deliberately scrutinized and visited. We can't finished the whole centrum. Well, we always go to this city actually but we just enjoying it while no man's dragging in our sides :-) (Hi ian, hi wietse:-)

"It was like treating ourselves in the fairyland and as time ticks...then put on our silver shoes to climb back to our castles' towers".

What a prinsjesdag! It was late afternoon then...we just walked to the train station. It was time to go home. We had a good time again. Hahaha! We better left our silver shoes down there in the city, 'çoz we have golds waiting at home :-)... Thanks Lyn for the day.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Lage Vuursche: Revisited

We revisited Lage Vuursche yesterday on a very bright shining day. Our first visit here was last December for our first honeymoon. That was winter...and this time, it really pays a difference.

Yesterday was blessed with a sweaty 25C and even the rest of this week will have warmer days. As the sun shines and spreads its rays...people here in the Netherlands don't like to miss catching its blessings to radiate themselves and be willing to be sun's slave. Normally, people start to stand their tents and the hi-ways are throng with cars dragging their carts/vans for camping or any outdoor breaks. Last month, was a wet tempo in the flatland, and this month's is far from usual but close to the Dutch weather unpredictable mood.

Lage Vuursche is a town in the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is a part of the municipality of Baarn, and lies about 5 km west of Soest, in the middle of the forest. The village has been famous where Drakestein, the former residence castle of Queen Beatrix of the royal family, is situated just east of the village. The Queen of the Netherlands, sometimes stays to enjoy the beautiful scenery here.
Until 1857, the village was a separate municipality, under the name De Vuursche, together with the small hamlet "Hoge Vuursche". It then merged with the municipality of Baarn.

Lage Vuursche is centrally located between Amsterdam and Utrecht, that made it easily accessible. The village has only few inhabitants and vastly forested where you can walk or go for bicycle- or horseback riding. There are arrays of restaurants, hotel , souvenir shop and pan cake houses in the village center where also swarm of tourists, and locals winding around.

Our pictures are not very sharp. Photos are courtesy from my mobile fone 'coz we forgot our photocam...

We took an afternoon walk inside the woods for like an hour. My first walk here was only lasted for about a few steps since it snowed that time. I felt terribly cold since I was just a week old of my stay here in the lowland. Our walk lately was full of sightseeings. How green the surounding is. Pine and sturdy oak trees are standing aligned. How organized the Dutch people are :-) I can see it to the trees, uniformedly groomed and well-grown. The color of the leaves of some trees started to turn redish orange as Fall season is nearly awaiting. Schrub of black berries are along sides that I picked and ate some :-)

Colorful mushrooms named vliegenzwam or fly agaric ( fly mushroom) or toadstool in english (Amanita muscaria, scientific name) are also sprouting in the debris. And the last but not the least, are cows in the private ranch. What a nice place to live for these dairy four-footed beasts blessed with this bountiful nature. No wonder that they produced fresh....ffreshhhhhhhh milk :-)

We had passed Hotel "De Kastanjehof" (The Chestnut Yard) which is located on a idyllic spot in the beautiful woods of Lage Vuursche. The hotel is situated across the street from the small castle "Drakestein". This is where we stayed before.

Photo of one of the suites of the hotel (foto from www. de

The place has been able to preserve the atmosphere of old inns and stage-coaches as I remembered. This adds to the authenticity of the village Lage Vuursche that reminds of days long gone. It was so nice to have a glimpse of the woods and the place we stayed during the brighter days which was totally different last gloomy days. This charming hotel, decorated in English country style, gave us before the feeling of peace and comfort in a wonderful ambiance and I'm quite sure that's their remarkable service till now. De Kastanjehof's restaurant is well-known for its excellent kitchen too.

Right picture was our shot last December in the same suite as above.

Next to that hotel is the De Lage Vuursche Cafe-Restaurant. This is already 140 years old-place handed down to the present generation owners.

Our dinner was setted here last winter.

I already forgot what was our meal then but pretty sure it was heerlijk (delicious). We found a nice place to sit here closed to the fireplace. This is also a popular hang-out of some Dutch tv and radio celebrities since this village is nearby Hilversum, the Netherlands' tv entertainment hub.

The Pancake House.

As the sun slowly sets, we dropped by at the De Pannenkoekenhuis De Vuursche Boer for our take home pancakes. The shop was very busy but very well-setted place. Here you can choose assortment of pancakes that will suit your taste that satisfy your gastronomic wants.

After our order was handed we went back directly to my hubby's brother's home in Maartensdijk to share a family dinner. Maartensdijk is a lovely town just closed by the village. This is where our first destination actually for little David's 3rd birthday, hubby's white-haired nephew. After had our first stop here, that we headed to the forest to enjoy the rest of the sunny day...:-) Wat een gezellige dag te hebben! (What a pleasant day to have ! ).

P.S :
On our way-drive at A4 hi-way, we stopped at gas station to tank, and I found this cute stuff. I can't wait not to bring it with us...:-) His name now is MaCoy :-) I like to own a real one but not for now.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

De scholen zijn weer begonnen! (Schools start again !)

 alt= Classes start again! I got my new class schedule and it really drives me 'busy'. I have four-day lessons per week and this means that I only have one-day free left. Well, I'm not yet tensed çoz I'm already finding a solution for it. And that is, not to attend my Monday lesson. I will speak to my teacher about it and I hope he will not protest against it:-)

So, after the summer vacation, I ám now looking forward for the herfstvakantie :-) That means, the autumn vacation. I'm amazed here actually. There's a lot of vacations...every season contributes free days for people here in Holland. While it reminds me about holidays in the Philippines. Filipinos only enjoy their awaited vacation only during Christmas time and Lent season which receive more days of rest. But only to suffer traffic jam as people like to spend time in city centers or the worse is being stucked in the bus stations and air or sea ports due to transport delays. Other than that, are the national one-day holiday proclaimed by the government during commemorations of birthdate or death of different national heroes. For students, only the all-time summer vacation which falls March-June plays the longest.

Holidays are equally important in the Netherlands as among the basics. In modern employment practice, vacation days are usually coupled with sick time, official holidays, and sometimes personal days with due compensation. Most countries around the world have laws mandating a certain number of days of time off per year to be given to a worker aside. Americans have the shortest vacation in the developed world (check this). While I think in most of Europe the limit is significantly higher. This is not only given for workers but also to schoolers. Students here have ample time of vacations as I compared while I was a student back in the Philippines. Filipino teachers as well don't have the pleasure during their breaks since they are busy with their lesson plans and other educational mandated instructions. Well, different huh!

That's why there are lots of vacation packages all around Europe. Travel agencies have competitive advertising strategies and many are in affordable holiday rates. The leisurely two-week, cross-country vacation seems like a quaint...custom today in Europe starting of the 50's and 60's. The long weekend getaway is increasingly common here as by air, by ship, by car or by the endless camping and caravan of the Dutch ways. Well, that's all of vacations...I should have to write here my comeback to school in which this post should be all about.

 alt= This reminds me the idea of "don't speak English please...speak Dutch..."

Ummmh....well, this is also my idea as I'm coming back to school. I'm thinking about holidays again...Actually, it will be on the end of October for the Herfstvakantie. Let's check how I will spend it then. But for now, I am focusing my Dutch lessons. Hehehe! I think I'm progressing, this is the best thing :-)