Manuscripts & maki

For our second day of cultural fun, Pieter and I chose the Meermanno museum – the house of the book – in the Hague. After a ferocious (and highly cultured) game of Mario Kart, we bundled ourselves up as best we could and stepped out into the cold in search of discovery.

Our initial route was blocked off by (insane people running) a half-marathon, and we were forced to trace back most of our steps. If you ask me the difficulty was well rewarded …

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Is there anything more charming than walking in a crowd on abandoned Dutch railway tracks?

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Maybe the little crocuses that, just like me, were a bit too eager for spring this month and are now struggling with all their might to hold on against this horrific wind!

We made it to the Meermanno more or less intact, and after a necessary warm-up in the very cosy little café downstairs, we began our visit. The museum is set up in the house of an old collector of books who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. The building is beautifully maintained and houses a large collection of medieval manuscripts and early print books – the perfect opportunity for me to do a bit of showing off with the limited knowledge I could remember from my manuscripts class last semester (and perhaps also invent a little something).

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Cupboards full of huge old volumes line the walls, and certain books have been opened to interesting pages under glass to allow for greater scrutiny.

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This guy was also hanging around.

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In the next room, an exhibit of the recent history of the book, starting with the industrial revolution, offers a stark contrast to that manuscript-filled study.

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iPads are hooked up to the table and display recent e-book developments. I was particularly excited to ‘flip’ through Alice in Wonderland, which is a constant source of discussion in my program.

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App or book? The philosophical discussion continues …

Once we’d done a good bit of learning, we (bravely) ventured out onto the museum’s grounds.

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A teeny tiny bit of goofiness may also have taken place – as much as could be allowed by the frigid wind and the impending snow!

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Needless to say we booked it back home as fast as we could. It was getting late, and after a short bout of work, we were going to end our weekend of cultural fun with one last hurrah …

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(As always, excuse the poor quality of that picture. I am an incorrigible show-off when it comes to food.)

Sushi it was! Pieter and I are fortunately both huge fans of this Japanese goodness – to the point where we have entire conversations about how, when we have ‘real jobs’, we’re going to eat nothing but sushi day in and day out. Totally normal.

Hidden beside a McDonald’s, on the far end of the Beestenmarkt (animal/cattle market), is a goldmine of deliciousness – Ichiban. It is decidedly uninviting, and the staff can be a tad rude. But if you can get past this occasional affront (which really is not much worse than the typical I effin’ hate you service customary around here) and take your sushi to-go, it’s just fantastic. Nowhere in the Netherlands have I found more delicious sushi at such low prices. (Of course, it’s nothing compared to the prices back home, but I’ll take what I can get!)

Also, their California rolls are just … divine. And HUGE!

It was another successful weekend, and part of me secretly hopes it’ll be another rainy one so we can continue our museum tour … On the other hand, if it’s nice out, we’re going for deep fried fish on the beach, so it’s a bit of a toss-up.

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