Goodbye Den Haag

Today we left the Netherlands after what seemed like an eternity and a heartbeat in The Hague. 

  The movers arrived on time, shoved everything down portable elavators Dutch-style and our whole life trundled away in a 53cubic metre truck. 

I think there will be things I’ll miss like roaming around bike paths. I’ve moved around lots in the past decade and always felt pangs of longing at each departure. I never love a place as much as when I leave it. 

 

Do Belgians adore stairs as much as the Dutch?

 This time is somewhat different as the hard landing in the Netherlands from Canada has yet to wear off completely. 

Anyway, I’m thrilled to be in Brussels. A magnificent gem smack in the centre of Europe that makes me want to forgive excessive charges for glasses of water and shops that don’t open on Sunday! (But I hear progress is being made on the former front :)) 

Almost didn’t make it to Paris…

  
We arrived in Paris last night safely with a hefty dose of providence. We had decided early to take the Thalys train but changed this to a driving trip just this week as we had to tack in a few other destinations. Turns out, the trains were cancelled all of yesterday due to arson on the tracks.

Next, while en route, we discovered that all the main arteries leading into the centre of Paris were blocked off for the day. Even major highways frozen off due to the arrival of Very Important People for the climate change conference. Fortunately our hotel sat just on the peripherique – no need to bust the inner ring. 

After a couple of extra hours of detours and jams (France has a makeshift border now where people are randomly pulled aside for inspections), we pulled up to the hotel to find guards everywhere. The first words we heard from in the city was, “Madam, we are at war.” And this elicited after asking why we could not drive up to the front doors of the hotel.

  Perhaps it’s due to our location at the Palais des Congres, but all doors are barricaded by burly guys (a frantic headhunt at the local gyms?) and wooden tables, it is nigh impossible to take a direct route anywhere, and all bags are inspected upon entering buildings. 

The second person we spoke to told us, “Paris is the safest place to be now”. 

It’s still certainly one of the loveliest cities in the world.