Sunday, August 19, 2012


With the lazy days of summer rapidly coming to a close, Holland has decided to lift up their windows, throw down their umbrellas and enjoy some sunshine. Ok, let me describe this another way….. It’s HOT!!!

When we moved to The Netherlands last summer, I was shocked to learn that my new home did not have air conditioning. But, moving from Texas, I was pleasantly surprised with the cooler rainy weather so I thought air must not be needed. I even had the fireplace going once or twice and seriously considered turning on the heater.

Then with the arrival of my new car, I pleasantly called the car dealer one day to have him explain to me how to turn on the air in the car. “Oh, you don’t have air. It’s a convertible so just put the top down.” Say What?! This Texas girl likes her air. What if it’s raining and it’s hot outside? What if it’s late at night and I don’t want the top down? What if I’m driving on the highway and don’t want to feel the wind in my hair at 130kph? What if?... Oh, ok I’ll deal with it.

So after sufficiently working on my best Holland tan driving around in my car, and melting in the process, we decided to take a little trip to the beach.
The North Sea runs along the west coast of Holland with a glorious beach in Den Haag or more specifically Scheveningen.

Last year, when we arrived, on day two or three we had to take the drive the Den Haag to the immigration office. There they gave me my official temporary Visa. To my disappointment, this was not a credit card! On the way home, we decided to stop in Scheveningen to say hello to the North Sea and enjoy lunch at the beach. There were so many nice restaurants and shops right on the beach. It was the perfect place to enjoy the afternoon.

I’ve wanted to write about Scheveningen for a long time but made a promise to myself that I would not until I could properly pronounce the name. This past week my daughter and I went with friends to the beach which gave me several opportunities to practice the Dutch pronunciation of the word Scheveningen.

During World War II the pronunciation of this sea side village was a way to tell if someone was German or not. The Germans had difficulty saying this word. They couldn’t pronounce the sch, so it was used as a shibboleth to detect if a person was the enemy.  

My neighbor Rob was born in Scheveningen and I asked him for some words of wisdom on his birthplace. Rob says…..

The seaside resort Scheveningen is a part of Den Haag/The Hague. The people who live in Scheveningen feel strongly Scheveningers and not an inhabitant of The Hague.
It is an old fisher village. You can see in the old part sometimes women still dress in costume but that is dying out. 

The beach is very popular and beautiful. The city is busy making the boulevard greater so you can cruise with your convertible, if you have one! 
The most impressive building you find at the beach is the Kurhaus hotel ( where you can live like a big spender. 
A very big attraction is De Pier ( You can’t leave Scheveningen without visiting the Pier. A long concrete building far in the North Sea where you can walk, and where you find some restaurants, little shops, a casino and bungee jump. 
Also along the beach there is an interesting aquarium ( where you can pet stingrays and starfish.
A few minutes away from the beach by foot you can find the AFAS-theatre ( from Joop van den Ende, the man from the impressive international musicals in Holland. He created par example the musical The Lion King.

When you have some time left, you can visit the museum Panorama Mesdag ( It is a painting like a cylinder 14 meter high and 120 meter long.

Furthermore there is Madurodam ( ): the smallest town of The Netherlands, full of very small copies of important Dutch buildings. The Dutch queen Beatrix was the first mayor in 1952. In 1980 when she was crowned she gave up this job. She is now patron and the mayor is a chosen child of the youth-town council.
The queen lives in The Hague, ( ).

The Scheveningers have some traditions: 
On the 1st of January, also in winter a lot of people run into the ice-cold sea to celebrate the New Year.
Another tradition is the big beach firework at 12 o’clock, the start of the New Year. In May/June the first haring comes in. This first barrel herring is auctioned and the proceeds go to charity (this year € 95.000,--) The Dutch like to eat the herring raw with chopped unions.

As for my pronunciation of the word Scheveningen, I asked Rob….ska va ning a.... I'm sounding that out. Is that correct?

 Rob says.. it’s more like… CHevrolet but before CH an S and after CH a roufh G at the back of your mouth. As if you have a cold. Ahhhh I might need to work on that a bit more.

My friend Nico is also from Scheveningen. Born right after the war and raised playing and fishing in the sea. He says he’s a Schollenkop, a nick name for someone from Scheveningen. Sounds like a wonderful thing to be.

A beautiful day in Scheveningen, absolutely!

To my friends Nico and Rob, thank you so kindly for always helping me here in The Netherlands, and to their beautiful wives, for putting up with these funny men.


  1. Some Dutch words are nigh on impossible to say properly unless you start gargling broken glass and I thing Scheveningen is one of those words!

  2. Ah, Madurodam. So much fun. And if I told myself I wouldn't write about Scheveningen until I could pronounce it, I would never get to talk about it!

  3. I'm still having a little trouble now that I found out about having to have a cold, but I'm working on it.