Before the news officially came out yesterday that stricter health regulations would take effect nationally, Teko and I had the now-rare option to walk around The Hague’s old city center right before it turned once again into a ghost town – a throwback to last Spring when everything was shut down. Though not as bad as then – restaurants can remain open for delivery and take-away, and no limitations on going out in public – most non-essential stores are now closed. This meant only groceries, drugstores, and banks can stay open, while museums, garden centers, and most shops will have to close for the rest of the year and until middle of January.
With the few hours we had to play with before meeting some friends for dinner, and taking advantage of the dry, intermittently sunny afternoon, we lucked out on a nice, quiet walk from where we were staying towards the government center in the Binnenhof complex, busy with press people waiting for announcements from important muckity-mucks inside, past the vacant main city square, and towards the buzzy shopping street where the local de Bijenkorf outpost was.
Conscious to maintain distance from others as much as possible, the Monday crowds on the street and inside the department store luckily were bearable and well-behaved, enough that I felt only mildly anxious the entire time. After finding one particular item that’s been on my wish list for decades, we quickly huffed it away from the masses and back to the hotel.
We’ve been to The Netherlands’ seat of government on many visits but I can still count with one hand the number of times I’d really made an effort to go around and explore the city. Over the years I’d discovered the most authentic French bistro in the country, a wonderful jewel box of a museum a few times over, and the only Filipino restaurant in these parts. We’d played with the thought of moving away from Amsterdam and closer to Rotterdam and even The Hague and who knows if we’ll be lucky enough to do so, but given the many pleasant experiences with this city thus far, it feels as if only the surface has been scratched. It could well be a worthy adventure and another chapter open and filled with opportunities.