Den Haag…another day with no joke

Sunday August 11 – Den Haag

I slept in again today – my back was hunting again – but I had looked yesterday and almost everything was closed until noon today, so there was no reason to rush out of the house. I love taking walking tours and recommend them to anyone traveling. Usually it gives you an opportunity to explore the city center – including many places you may not have checked out on your own while giving you historical and cultural information. Many of them end with a trip to a pub or a coffee (depending upon the time of day).

I got ready and walked over to the meeting point – Im sure I would make most others nervous or anxious with the lack of planning I do – but it said it was going to meet in this square and the email didn’t necessarily tell you where.  I had a feeling it was near this cartoon statue – so I checked the website and I was right. There were 14 people on the tour, great size group – we had Russians, Texans, Germans, and some Asians – all different points of views on the world. Makes for great conversation when you find out how everyone learns a different history about many parts of history.

Our guide was Denny – he normally does architectural tours but he was filling in for his friend while she was on holiday with her family. He had a lot of insight on the architecture of the buildings so we got to see a lot of little details most people don’t notice – or if they do itll take years (according to Denny). He took us through parks, gardens and we walked all over the city center. For me the highlights were realizing how old the city and the fact that they are still ruled by a king! They vote here for the people who keep the government in check, not the actual government since the king appoints them. They also have like 25+ parties – so they are forced to work together and it is hard to bribe them since the group changes so frequently.

We also learned about the canals throughout Holland – basically they are all locks and dams meant to assist with water problems (rising and lowering due to weather) most of Holland is below sea level. They aren’t afraid of rising sea level because they are prepared for it – they worry about the world, but not themselves.

At the end of free tours they say “now is judgement time.” This is when you get to place value on the tour, since many people who come on these are backpackers or who don’t want large expensive tours, often times $10-15/person is a reasonable rate. I usually give $10 – if they do really good $15 – those are the ones who can answer all my crazy questions. After the tour I walked over to the city volunteers (they have these people with maps and candy to help tourists) and got a map because I want to take the tram to the beach, but first – LUNCH!

I ended up finding another pizza place but opted for pasta and soup this time. I really want some fries!! I haven’t found a stand open when I am actually hungry for them though.  I sat and wrote up to this point in the blog, read some of my book and enjoyed the food for a while. After lunch I walked around for a bit, then went to figure out the tram system so I could check out the beach. Luckily you can buy tickets with a card on the trams themselves – the signage and information at the stops is actually very good here. I rode line #1 from the city center to the beach area. It was about a 25 minute ride. The tram went down tree lined streets – everything so lush and green – make the outskirts of the city seem farther away than it really was.

I got to the beach stop, opened Google maps and headed towards the water. On the way over I ran into a bunch of kids teaching each other parkour. It was a pretty cool site to see – looked like a legitimate club – they had shirts and leaders and stuff. Getting to the beach from the tram line was a quick 10 minute walk. It smelled like fish the closer I got to the water – but the beach views were gorgeous. It was (and usually is) very window, so there were many windsurfers out on the water. I didn’t see many people camped out on the beach – but it was pretty cool  out (all of 64*).

After I checked out the beach I went back to the tram, I really wanted to get some digestives (ya know fiber full crackers, with chocolate!) and chocolate for my adventures tomorrow – luckily there was a shop just at the tram stop. I gathered my snacks and got on the tram back to the city center. I stopped at the Peach Palace as my guide recommended it. However, you can you cant actually go in and they only have a small visitor center to check out. I took some pictures and headed back to the tram. The Peace Palace is an international group of people appointed by each country that handles international arbitration. In order to participate each side must agree to the final settlement.

Once back at the city center I decided it was time to head back to my Airbnb and relax for a bit before the concert and also change, it was already cooling off and it was only 5pm. I got back to my room and no one else was home (woohoo) but I just went to my room to watch some Friends and take a nap before my super wild night ahead. I full expected to be out late (and I was!)

The concert started at 7pm – but tickets said P!NK had two openers – so I didn’t leave the house until after 7pm since the park was only about a 15 minute walk. People were filing in from the trams, buses and trains – all so orderly and excited. I followed the wave of people into the park. There was a bike parking lot at the venue (and many people didn’t even lock their bikes up) and a locker facility in case you wanted to leave stuff outside of the park.

I decided I had come all this way I should buy a shirt with the concert dates and places on it, so I waited in the long line and got a shirt. After that I headed to ticket check in. I paid for the closest area (the Golden Circle) which meant my line to get in was super short. They scanned your ticket, put on a wristband and made you throw away your ticket. You then have your bags looked at, but no metal detector or pat down. Europe (ok maybe just this area) has concert venues figured out. No cash at the food or beverage lines. You instead buy tokens – plastic round coin like pieces that can be split in half to pay for food or beverages. The minimum you could buy was 5 tokens – for $15. So I went with the 5 tokens because they had FRIES!! The friends were 1.5 tokens and the drinks (non-alcoholic) were 1 token a piece. I got fries, fanta and a water. They even had water refill stations around the site – its super nice!!

My heart is breaking, Notre Dame is on FIRE!

Notre Dame in Paris is on fire. From the looks of the feed the spire is in danger.

UPDATES WILL CONTINUE….

The greatest news that can be received after this terrible fire is that the Bell Tower has been saved and that much artwork was able to be rescued before the destructive fire reached them! Over two thirds of the roof has been destroyed. The cathedral was under a $6+ million dollar renovation – including the twelve apostle copper statues that once lined the roof – and it is believed the fire has started up in the “forest” of the wooden ceiling. The statues from the roof were removed last week – as part of this renovation.

Thankfully the firefighters were able to save the piece of the Holy Crown of Thorns, Saint Louis’ linen fabric and and the treasury of the Cathedral. These priceless pieces of art and history can be removed during the rebuilding period (because they will rebuild) and continue to share the history with generations to come.

23:28: According to Laurent Nunez, secretary to the interior minister, the two towers at the front of the cathedral are safe. At this point that also means the bells are safe. The firefighters are working tirelessly to save the artwork. From the news reports, it sounds as though the fire has been fought internally much of the time to protect as much of the original portions of the cathedral as possible. I am no expert on artwork, but I do know that smoke damage is difficult to clean up in normal circumstances so artwork hundreds of years old would be extremely difficult.

Nunez stated that one firefighter was seriously injured and 2/3 of the roof has been destroyed. As of now, the belief that the iconic front facade of the cathedral has been saved.

The Spire has fallen. At 1955 Paris time the Spire has fallen. Follow the link below for video.

The moment #NotreDame’s spire fell pic.twitter.com/XUcr6Iob0b— Patrick Galey (@patrickgaley) April 15, 2019

More of the roof has caught fire after the Spire fell. The scene is reporting that the fire alarm sounded at 1830 Paris time. At that time the doors were shut without warning. Shortly after the doors shut white smoke began to escape the roof, then quickly darkened. Within moments bright orange flames broke through the roof and spread quickly.

It should be noted that 13-14 million people visit Notre Dame every year, making it the most visited place in Europe. This historic Cathedral was under renovations, scaffolding covered much of the roof area. With Easter this coming weekend – the city was preparing for the massive crowds ready to visit this historic landmark.

Around 1925 Paris time the Paris Police tweeted :

Translated that means : “Notre Dame Fire in progress. Avoid the area and facilitate the passage of emergency vehicles and intervention of the @prefpolice.”

As it currently stands the flames are large and raging. The spire is fully engulfed, it’s just a matter of time before it crumbles honestly. The wooden structure that supports much of the weight of this building is all currently in danger.

Construction of Notre Dame started in 1163, completed around 1250. Additions and remodels have take place since then as well. The spire was renovated in the 19th century, being completed by wood covered in lead. It makes it very heavy, and will do significant damage if/when it falls.