Sunday, September 29, 2013

Day Trip to The Hague- The Netherlands

This way to Binnenhof!
The Hague (Den Haag) is an easy day trip from Amsterdam if you are looking to get out of the "city" and see another side of The Netherlands. The Hague is centered more around the government. It's where the royal family lives and where international embassies are located. The Hague is clean, the roads are wide, and life seems calmer and at a slower pace. New buildings are mixed with old. It's not uncommon to see Medieval architecture.

There are parks, museums, and attractions to see in The Hague. Spend as little as three hours there or make a whole day of it. You won't run out of things to do but you will have to choose wisely.

It takes less than an hour to get to The Hague by train from Amsterdam. The best way to get to Den Haag Centraal is from Schiphol Airport. It costs approximately 16.10 Euro for a roundtrip ticket. Once you get to The Hague you can travel by foot, bicycle, or tram. There is even a welcome committee to put you in the right direction once you exit the train station!

Along the way to the museums and attractions you want to see, you will encounter many of the famous sites in The Hague, shopping, restaurants, parks, and residential areas. Equip yourself with a proper map or GPS. I relied on my travel book map and the drawing did not list the small streets in between the main streets and avenues. I got lost for a good hour and no one was able to help us get where we needed to go. As a last resort, we walked the perimeter and followed the canals. They led us to our final destination Madurodam.

Here are a few things to see, eat, and visit during your day trip to The Hague:

Eat a Supersaucijs for Breakfast
These sausage meat pies have a flaky croissant like crust. They are pretty cheap and sold at the bakker bart. While you're there, buy some eieorkoek flat cakes. They are light and taste like angel food cake.
Supersaucijs at bakker bart
Binnenhof and Ridderzaal (pictured top right)
Binnenhof is a series of buildings and the meeting place of the Netherlands Parliament. The Ridderzaal is the courtyard in the Binnenhof. You can take a stroll and relax in it or take a guided tour of the building and learn the history. Binnenhof and Ridderzaal is also known as the Inner Court and Hall of Knights.

Eat a Haring Sandwich
Between mackreel and haring, one local told me to go for the haring. "It's the best, just the best." He said as a matter of fact. This Netherlands specialty is like a fisherman's sushi. Doesn't get any fresher than this. The haring sandwich is sold at many stands throughout the city and is seasonal. Packed with onions and sometimes pickles, it's simple and delicious. It's also cheap and won't set you back more than some chump change Euros (2.50).
Hollandse Nieuwe Haring stand
haring sandwich
Hear a Draaiorgel
This street organ is festive and plays music. Listen to the bells ring and songs play.

Panorama Mesdag
The Mesdag collection is small and the panorama is in one room. Give yourself about two hours for this museum. You can buy a combined ticket for the exhibits. View art pieces depicting life in a fisherman village and experience a 360 degree wraparound painting that feels three dimensional.
Schveningen Village, Hendrik Willem Mesdag
Panorama Mesdag
The Netherlands in miniature state! This theme park captures the essence of The Netherlands and educates about the history of the country through interactive kiosks and small scale historical sites and monuments. Do the speed tour in an hour or spend a few hours at your leisure noticing all the details of the miniatures. There is a very good cafeteria on site and a gift shop that sells all sorts of Miffy memorabilia.
Photography Credits: Desmond Chow, Roxwriting

Bakker Bart
Turfmarkt 220
2511 DH, The Hague

Binnenhof and Ridderzaal
Binnenhof 8A, The Hague

Panorama Mesdag
Zeestraat 65
2518 AA, The Hague

George Maduroplein 1
2584 RZ, The Hague

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bathroom Humor

Potty time?
At the Queens Museum of Art in Queens you can experience The Panorama built by Robert Moses. You will inevitably need a bathroom break and you will come across this wall which explains women to the left and men to the right. But where do the raccoons go?

The Queens Museum of Art is currently closed while it undergoes renovations. Stay tuned for a new and improved space!

Queens Museum of Art
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Queens, NY 11368

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Tale of Two Pizzas: Neapolitan and Roman Style

My love for pizza grew exponentially in New York. I knew that when I got to Italy I had to try as much pizza as I could. Pizza was everywhere and was eaten either for a snack by the slice or as a full blown meal. One pie per person!  

Neapolitan Style

Neapolitan style pizza originated in Naples. There is a standard to making these pies. This type of pizza states that the dough is no more than 3 millimeters thick. It is usually rolled by hand and cooked for a minute and a half in a stone oven. The toppings are simple (usually tomatoes and cheese) and the finished product is a personal sized soft pizza with a charred crust. We tried ours with spicy sausage and anchovies and capers.

I tried Neapolitan style pizza at Gustapizza in the Palazzo Pitti neighborhood in Florence. I stumbled upon it after a day at the Boboli Gardens. Trust me when I say real Neapolitan style pizza is far better than the homemade makeshift version using store bought Boboli pizza crust.
A traditional Neapolitan style pizza
"Our duty is to do things like our forefathers once did..."
The funny Gustapizza guys and their love for NY!
The oven
Calabrese: tomato, spicy salami, basil, mozzarella
Roman Style

Roman style pizza sold in Rome is done two ways. The first, made for sit down pizzerias, is the more common type of pizza Americans may be used to. It is round with a thin crust. It is usually shared as it is bigger than a personal sized Neapolitan style pizza. Da Buffeto in Rome is a popular pizzeria. Get there early around six to avoid waiting in the very long line. The bresaola and arugula pizza and pizza with zucchini and squash blossoms is highly recommended.
Da Buffeto
The Line
Zucchini and Squash Blossoms
Bresaola and Arugula
The second way Roman style pizza is done is it is sold by the slice. The slice is weighed and that determines the price. It is then wrapped in paper and the happy recipient can take it to go and eat it in hand. My favorite pizza slice to go was a potato, rosemary, and olive oil variation. No cheese or tomato sauce!
Potato, rosemary, olive oil pizza
Mangia! Mangia!

Viamaggio 46R
50125 Florence, Italy

Da Buffeto
Via del Governo Vecchio 114
00186 Rome, Italy