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Amsterdam, Day 4, The Hague

We got up early today to get the tram to the station to take the train to The Hague (Der Haag). We took The Hague tram to the “Peace Palace”, housing the court of international arbitration and the court of international justice.

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Both courts involve at least one country (as opposed to involving two people or entities other than countries). Trials like the Nuremberg trials, where individuals are tried, are not decided at the peace palace.  There are other courts in The Hague that deal with those kinds of trials as well as many other aspects of international justice.

We had a great tour, which Jim arranged ages ago. The building is huge and fabulously decorated for the most part with lots of amazing tile work and other Arts and Crafts style decoration.  My favorite thing was a fountain donated by Denmark, glazed with tiles, of polar bears and seals. (No cameras or phones are allowed, so I didn’t take pictures. I found this one.)

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After the Peace Palace, we had lunch and then went to the Galerij Prins Willem V, a salon-style gallery that has been around for centuries. Some lovely Vermeers, a really nice Rubens, and a Heda, who was a master of the almost-monochromatic still life.  And dogs in lots of the paintings, which I photographed for someone I know who likes dogs.

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After the William V gallery, we walked over to the Mauritshuis.  Some lovely Medieval buildings along the way.

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Mauritshuis houses the Girl with a Pearl Earing but also many great Rembrandts and other Dutch works plus some really great light sconces.  Now we know where the designers of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast vacationed.

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It was a treat.  (We did succumb to ridiculous merchandising and bought the Girl with a Pearl Earring rubber ducky.

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imageWe had some oysters and genever (Amsterdam gin) in The Hague before taking the train back to Amsterdam.  The oysters here are really good, large and with a large taste to go with the size.  Very different from Wellfleets, but delicious.

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A bike parking lot near the train station at The Hague. They are everywhere, always ready to run you over!

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When we got back to Amsterdam, we had dinner at an Italian place, Ponte Arcari, which we had seen at the location of the seven bridges view, (where you can see seven bridges at once).  We made a reservation a few hours before, but when we got there, we were told they only had a table in the basement, dank, and instead of a lovely view of the canals, a view through slits of windows of people’s feet as they walked by.  There was a woman’s jacket under my chair when we sat down, and I figured after our experience, that she had starved to death and decomposed with nothing left now but her jacket without her getting so much as a menu.  We got menus after a half hour, no wine, no bread or olives, nothing but the menu.  We ordered, and were told after an hour of waiting, that what we ordered, both dishes, were unavailable.   I ordered a dish with Asiago cheese and supposedly truffle oil in the sauce, and the sauce was drowning in cheese.  I think they “Americanized” the dish for my poor, unsophisticated, American palate.  Either that or they just can’t cook. The food was mediocre at best and the waiting beyond bearable.  The fake-jolly, obnoxious waiter kept apologizing, but doing absolutely nothing right.  He seemed to think that if he thought it was all a big joke, we would think it was fine.  As we left, he was jollying us out the door, apologizing.  I looked at him and said, “I have two things to say, Yelp and Trip Advisor.”  We should have left when it took half an hour just to get a menu in a dank basement….  Let’s hope that was the one disaster of the trip.

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