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1.13.2017

Travelogue: Den Haag & A Bit Of Rotterdam

Den Haag (The Hague) is best-known as the International City of Peace and Justice, with over 160 international organizations employing more than 14,000 people dedicated to working towards a more peaceful and just world. 
A quick 40-minute train ride from Amsterdam will take you there, and thankfully everything worth seeing is within walking distance from the terminal station. We only had half a day there, so we were only able to see the main sights and had to skip the museums- I would have loved to visit the Mauritshuis to see Vermeer's The Girl with The Pearl Earring and other Dutch masterpieces or experience the magical world of Escher in Het Palais!

We began at the historical Binnenhof, an imposing Gothic castle that stands as the oldest House of Parliament still in use today, and continued through the courtyard for the Ridderzaal where the King holds his annual speech on Prince's Day in September. Don't miss the Dutch Nieuwe herring from the small pavilion just outside the main gate (which we are told is the best in the city).
Another street not to be missed is Lange Voorhout, a beautiful tree-lined street that houses many embassies and fancy restaurants in 18th century style heritage buildings. Venture another 20 minutes through more nondescript buildings and you will find yourself at the Peace Palace, home to the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The Palace happened to be closed for tours on the day we visited, so make sure you do your research online. 
After a quick tour of The Hague, we hopped on a westbound train that took us to Rotterdam in 30 minutes. Rotterdam's city center was decimated during the war, and the City Council decided to build a new and livelier city instead of rebuilding what was lost, resulting in a varied landscape with some funky architecture. 
I was really excited to explore this hip little city, but daylight was fading and our priority was to see the quirky Kubuswoningen (Cube Houses) by Dutch architect Piet Bloom before the sun set. It's well worth the €3 to go inside one of them and imagine what life would be like inside. Along the way we also saw its lesser neighbor Blaaktoren (Pencil Tower) and the nearby port Oude Haven and walked through the bustling horseshoe-shaped Markthal with its 36,000 square foot mural.
We ended the evening at Witte de Withstraat, checking out some artsy boutiques and vintage stores before we sat ourselves down for some tapas and wine. I imagine that Rotterdam would have be much more vibrant over the summer, but I'm glad we got to spend a few hours there!

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