I lived with a Dutch guy, Joost, for a few years in grad school. We parted ways about 8 years ago. I became an international unemployed vagabond and Joost became a city councilman in the Hague and the senior staff member of a mid-sized Dutch political party. I think it’s pretty clear who made the most of their Master’s degree.
Joost was kind enough to take us on a tour of the Dutch parliament as well as give us a pretty decent walking tour of the city. Due to the variety of international institutions in the Hague (Peace Palace, International Criminal Court etc) the city, allegedly, has one of the largest international communities in all of Europe. I can’t really say that it felt all that international — this is still the Netherlands after all – but it did have a unique feel to it. More sophisticated and business-like than other Dutch cities.
It was great to see an old friend and the Hague was a fun place to spend a few hours. I also got to engage in one of my favorite past times – complaining to public officials! (There was a broken ATM at the train station, so I complained to city councilman Joost about it. He promised to get it sorted immediately). Plus, the sun came out for, like, 2 hours and we were able to have a nice drink outside.
On the train ride home, we stopped off for a 20 minute detour in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. That’s not a typo. This stupid town’s name actually begins with an apostrophe followed by a lowercase ‘s’ and then a hyphen.
Of course, we stopped here to do more than just mock this stupid place’s stupid name. ‘s-Hertogenbosch is home to Boschballen, a local delicacy. It’s basically just a giant profiterole. In fact, it is just a giant profiterole. Which, of course, means it’s awesome. We hopped off the train, scarfed down a couple of boschballen, and then hopped right back on the train. It was pretty great.