29.11.2016 - 30.11.2016
Well, I made it to The Hague without much difficulty, and I really like what I have seen so far from this city. I have a feeling this might become one of my favorites. Everyone here has been so friendly!
My day started yesterday when I left Green Bay at 7am to drive to Chicago. I don't much like driving as it is, and I was concerned about navigating through the tolls and figuring out where to get gas before dropping off the rental car. Not everything went as smoothly as I had planned (I missed a toll and because of that I also missed the exit I needed for where I originally planned to get gas), but with the help of the GPS I figured it all out. I dropped off the rental car and took the shuttle to the terminal at O'Hare. Getting through security was a breeze with TSA pre-check, and I was at the gate about three hours before my flight.
I flew to Atlanta, where I had another couple of hours to wait, and then on to Amsterdam. The flight was completely full and they were offering $1000 to take a later flight. I wish I could have taken advantage of that but it would have made me late for the conference I am attending here. The flight across the Atlantic was pretty uneventful: the food was bad but I actually slept for a couple of hours I think. Getting through immigration in Amsterdam wasn't too bad either. I was on my train to The Hague just a little over an hour after the plane landed. The train to The Hague from Amsterdam's airport takes only about half an hour, and my hotel is just outside the central train station, so getting here was really easy.
My room wasn't ready yet, so I left my bags there and headed out to explore the city a bit. The Hague's main square is about 5 minutes down the road from the hotel. It isn't much really, especially compared to the main square in Kraków that I fell in love with this summer. But it is lined with cafes and I might try one out while I am here. A lot of the streets in the area are pedestrian and bike only, so it is great for strolling. Everyone here rides bikes it seems. You don't really see that many cars, compared to what you would expect.
I got to the end of the pedestrian area and came across a canal near the Dutch Parliament building. I will be touring Parliament on Saturday.
I stopped for lunch at a cafe, and when I was looking at my map while eating I noticed that the Dutch Supreme Court and a trial court building were not far away. So I thought I would see if I could go in them. They wouldn't let me in to the Supreme Court, but I was able to sit in on a hearing at the trial court. I don't speak Dutch so I didn't know much of what was going on. I could tell it was a criminal law case because there were several police officers there and the judge said "first offense" once in English. The hearing didn't last long and there was nothing after it, so I was debating whether to try to get the judge's attention after the hearing. I decided to give it a shot and was excited to be able to talk to the prosecutor, the judge and the judge's paralegal. The case was a burglary case. The actual burglary part had already been settled, but apparently the defendant insulted a police officer and the hearing was about that. I told the judge I would be brining students there in a year so maybe we would come see a hearing there. He gave me his email address and told me he would help me arrange a visit. So I am glad I worked up the courage to talk to them!
By this time my room was ready and I got checked in. It is a pretty standard hotel room by American standards. The thing I found funny is that the mini bar is just snacks sitting on a table with a price list.
After getting settled in and checking email, I went back out to go back to the pedestrian area to get a stroopwaffel. Yum!
I headed back to the hotel again and stopped at a grocery store to get something to eat for breakfast tomorrow, and I am calling it a night. I actually am a lot less tired that I usually am my first day in Europe. I am surprised after such a long day of travel. Tomorrow I go tot the conference in the morning. It will be strange because sunrise here isn't until about 8:30am. I have high expectations for the conference so hopefully it is as good as I am anticipating.