„Amsterdam is like a street girl, who offers all her virtues on a plate. As opposed to The Hague who, as a noblewoman, keeps a respectful distance and her attention needs to be earned. The former crawls under our skin, with the latter we can only hope that by time she would let us getting closer.”
I have heard this short, but rather precise description from a Greeter of The Hague. An enthusiastic and selfless individual who – in the name of loving her city together with other like minded fellows – is ready to spend few hours with the curious traveller showing the unbeaten track and some snaps of the everyday life. During this time we can get local tips on where and what to eat, drink, shop or what are the not to be missed spots or cultural events while we are in town. We can get ideas, which although unlisted in a tourguide, can still be very essential if we seek to get an authentic picture of the city. While browsing through the website of Greeters of The Hague turns out all we need to do is sending them an email about the dates we spend in town. Then we just need to wait until based on our interest (indicated in our first message sent to them) they pair us up with a volunteer ambassador, who will get in touch with us via email regarding the exact time and place of our tour.
What I have loved most about our 2-hour walk was having a look behind the walls of the glamorous shop windows and elegant palaces and peeking at scenes of the ordinary life. Suddenly The Hague was not „only” the headquarter of the International Court of Justice, but a city, where
… the Hollands Spoor is to be found – the old train station, where the royal family used to have its waiting lounge covered with gold and from where they used to set off to all of their inland an foreign journeys
… I have visited a mosque, which is still in active use, for the first time
… among the residential houses we found hidden gardens with rabbits and guinea pigs, which run around freely
… we tasted the delicious simit (Turkish bagel) in a café where apart from us there were hardly any non-Turkish people
… we visited the New Church, which was the first cathedral in the area, which was designed without the inner supporting colonnades. Legend has it, that the architect was so much scared that the ceiling would fall on the assembly that he committed suicide
… we saw a retro poster exhibition of Paard, the legendary club of the city
… we met our Greeter Saskia, an amazing lady, who gave us the biggest present you can get while you are abroad: some very warm welcome, hospitality and care, that we always be thankful for.
Where do I find information on the Greeters of The Hague? Check out: http://www.denhaaggreeters.nl
For whom is it recommended? Those open-minded, spontaneous and flexible travelers, who are happy to step out from the comfort zone of their guidebooks.