The morning of the 9th April dawned as the previous day, bright but very chilly as I was to discover pretty quickly on my jaunt outside for my early morning cigarette. After a very decent breakfast of scrambled eggs, frankfurters and bread and chickpeas (what is that all about?) it was time for another wander and what was to prove to be another abortive attempt to make it into the centre of town which it seemed was more difficult than it appeared.
I got as far as the wonderful De Sierkan cafe / bar / restaurant which is reviewed in the previous entry in this journal and that was it for the day because I basically got very little further, perhaps 20 yards as I shall explain. For that reason this will be a fairly short entry.
I parked myself at my accustomed table as it had an adjacent powerpoint and tried to get on with some writing for a travel website I was contributing to at the time. That didn’t get too far as I ended up in another wonderful conversation with the utterly delightful chef / patron Anna and also with another charming young lady who was waitressing the lunch service. Like most Dutch people she spoke flawless English which helped.
People occasionally castigate me for spending a whole day in a bar and insist that I am “wasting time” but I really do not consider it to be wasted time at all. Whilst it is lovely to see the sights / sites in any given place I travel primarily to meet people and interact with them and that is exactly what I did.
I effectively didn’t “do” anything but I had a thoroughly enjoyable day and surely travelling should be enjoyable or else what is the point?
I did take rather a lot of images of de Sierkan a) because I certainly had enough time to do so and b) because it was just so damned photogenic, as was the lovely Anna even when obscured by potted flora and so here are a few more for you.
With all that being said, I did feel as the afternoon wore on that I should do something else, even if it was only to visit another bar and that proved to be no effort at all as there is one about three doors along the street. In fact, I have added an image here showing the proximity of the two premises. It was called Cafe de Asplaag whatever that might mean as I can find no translation online.
Fortunately, I did not have far to go as I had spotted the Asplaag bar literally fifty yards up the street when I had been out for a cigarette. I have included an image here merely to indicate the proximity of the premises.
Whilst De Sierkaan is obviously quite an upmarket place, Asplaag is equally obviously a “working man’s bar” and there was not a woman in sight, neither customer nor staff. Many of the guys were wearing what were obviously working clothes like high-visibility jackets and steel toe-capped boots. It is pretty rough and ready and definitely a “no-frills” sort of place but it was in no way intimidating and I got talking to a couple of the guys there who proved to be great company if a little surprised at my presence in what is obviously very much their local. I suspect that they do not get a lot of passing tourist trade as it is well out of the centre.
The beer was well-kept and served by a friendly barman and there was football on the large-screen TV. It really did suit me down to the ground and if you do not want all the bells and whistles and like to hang out with the locals then it could well be for you.
I popped back into the Sierkan for another couple and then it was time to eat before heading home.
As mentioned previously, I have something of the appetite of an anorexic sparrow and generally eat once a day, late at night and so I headed to the little snack bar place adjacent to De Sierkan which seems to stay open pretty late. It is called Bajwa which research indicates is a Jat ethnic clan of the Punjab and this might make sense given the physical appearance of most of the staff but the website suggests Surinamese ownership and I know there are is a sizeable community from that country in the Netherlands. I am not bothered either way, as late night munchies go this was great.
Perhaps it was the several beers I had had or perhaps something just got lost in translation but I ended up with as much food as would keep me going for about three days at home. I really am not joking about this. As always, apologies for the quality of the images but I really don’t like firing off flash when people are eating, especially in a place I don’t know and late at night as you never know what offence someone may take.
Don’t even ask me what these rolls all contained but I do recall enjoying half of them with a bottle of a cheap export beer I had never had before, they were very well done. The other half were consigned to the kitbag and tasted just as good when reheated in a microwave later. Yes, I know it will revolt some readers but I do actually wander about with cold, congealing kebabs etc. in my computer daysack. It hasn’t killed me yet although it does lead to some interesting aromas.
The food here is great, the service friendly and prompt and it is definitely not expensive so it was an over-stuffed and not bankrupt Fergy that headed off home, pausing on the way to take an image of the excellent window display above.
Back at the hotel it was an early bed and another great night’s sleep.
I might actually make it to the centre of Den Haag in the next instalment so to find out if I do stay tuned and spread the word.