During the second World War, the Dutch had a very sneaky way of uncovering impostors in their midst: they would simply ask them to say the word ‘Scheveningen’.
Say the ‘ch’ sounds a bit like a very exaggerated ‘h’ – like when you don’t quite buy what someone’s telling you and you scoff a ‘h-okay.’ That makes the pronunciation something like this: S – h – ay – vuh – ning – uh. Got it?
It’s a mean little one, isn’t it?! Scheveningen is a beach town – a sort of continuation of the Hague, where city meets harbour, beach clubs, board walk shops, sand, and sea. It’s a hot tourist location, and it’s got a distinctly ‘Jersey Shore’ feel to it. It also houses the SEA Life aquarium. As avid animal enthusiasts/zoo fans, it was about time Pieter and I paid it a visit!
The aquarium isn’t all that big, but what it does, it does really well. We started our tour outdoors, a hop and a skip away from the beach, and admired some fine Dutch specimen. But soon we were tickling rays (through glass, but still), being hypnotized by jelly fish, avoiding the pacus’ splashes, and having a snack in a glass tunnel under giant turtles and some casual sharks.
After a long visit with some adorable (and sadly un-pictured) otters, we were ready for some grub … In the form of kibbeling! Kibbeling is a typical Dutch street food delicacy: chunks of fresh white fish (the irony is not lost on me!), battered, deliciously seasoned, and deep fried. Served with a rich, creamy sauce that I can best describe as mayonnaise meets tartar sauce. Hubbah hubbah.
Every vishandel (fish monger) worth its salt offers not only kibbeling, but a whole array of deep fried fish and other seafood – and all for pennies! Next time we’re going for the mussels.
Energized once more, we decided to battle the insane winds and go for a stroll along the beach.
There used to be a bungy-jumping business at the very end of the Scheveningen pier, but the company ran into some financial trouble a few years ago, and the place was essentially abandoned. If you can bear heights and very strong winds, the climb to the top offers a beautiful view. You can even see the Rotterdam harbour in the far distance!
After the climb we figured we’d earned ourselves a bit of a treat – a beach club seemed like a fitting option!
Of course, we sat inside, but with the sea behind us, we could (almost) pretend it was a hot, sunshine-y day!
We finished the day off at Funland, a full-blown arcade right on the boardwalk (where I
sorely lost at air hockey), and then the rapidly dropping temperatures sent us cowering for the nearest tram. Now all I can think about is going back when a parka isn’t necessary!
Also, don’t worry – we compensated for all that kibbeling with a light dinner (and certainly no Swedish mud cake).