The Hague

On time capital before Amsterdam, before Louis Bonaparte, sibling of the more famous Napoleon, bestowed that honour upon Amsterdam. However the government still resides here despite the city not regaining its prior status after the end of French rule.
The Hague is small and mixes modern and old architecture more successfully than most places and there is plenty to see, whether interested in old or modern architecture, old or modern art. And there is also the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice

I arrived by Eurolines on an overnight bus from London having decided to travel at fairly short notice. I looked quickly on couchsurfing to find a host and despite a host accepting and then deleting their account without warning very soon afterwards I was able to find another host Jelena from Serbia.

Jelena and Dalibor  were also visited by a Dutch friend from another city who was also friendly.

As for the location, It was almost immediately south of Hollands Spoor station, not the most salubrious areas. In fact bordering a red light district. This aside it seemed a reasonably safe area and a short walk into the centre.

The Hague in addition to being a pleasant city, it is host to several very interesting museums.

The International Court of Justice
The Peace Palace part of the International Court of Justice was originally established as an arbitration to end wars. However it tragically and spectacularly failed as World War I broke out just a year later. Now used for the International Court of Justice, many infamous persons are bought here to trail. No Americans though for while they will send foreign leaders there they insist no American can be tried there,

Image under wikicommons license.

Unfortunately the Mauritshuis museum was closed for refurbishment. It would normally house some paintings from renowned Dutch artists such as Vermeer and  Rembrandt. However a lot of the art is on display at the also renowned Gemeentemuseum housed in a modern facade with an artificial pond.

The first museum I saw was the Prince William V gallery. A very small but interesting art museum but again filled with Dutch Masters, Paintings are also hung as they would be in the 18th Century. There are (separate) booklets in Dutch and English explaining some of the Art. Adjacent to the museum is the Prison museum (you can buy combined tickets). The museum quite clearly displays some of the darkness of human hearts as you learn about the various methods of torture used to extract confessions before many were executed in inhumane ways and the descriptions would certainly not suitable for the squeamish.

Interestingly there were also double standards based on status or material wealth. If one was poor they were incarcerated in large groups in small rooms with virtually no light (even when it was bright outside). If one was a rich man you could enjoy “all the pleasures of a hotel that you could not leave” to paraphrase the museum. For a rich man:  “beer, wine, girls, all smuggled in, no problem!” as a guide stated.

Nearby the gallery is the beautiful Binnenhof,  a series of attractive   government buildings and not to be missed. Architecturally for me this was the most interesting location by far.

 

No visit to the Hague will be complete without visiting Scheveningen, even in February as I was there.
It was still popular even though I have been told more insanely so in summer, in winter at least it had a nice family atmosphere to it. With lots of families there, their children enjoying the location. Further up along the beach the scenery gets a little bit more rustic, less people make it hear but the buildings by the beach give way to a hill with pleasant views and then just scenery.

My journey to and from the Hague were interesting as I spoke to interesting people. First, Aimee from Switzerland and then a Dutch lady travelling to London on holiday.