My favourite spot in The Hague
Karel Mahy-Rousseau, from Canada, came to the Netherlands in August 2015 and is in the second year of the International Studies programme in The Hague: ‘My favourite place in The Hague would have to be the Plein.’
Filled with cafés and restaurants
'This square, centrally located between the Binnenhof (the Houses of Parliament), one of our university buildings, and the commercial part of town, is filled with cafés and restaurants that each have an outdoor terrace installed all year long. Being so close to school, it is very common for students to meet there after school for a glass of beer and some bitterballen (deep fried meatballs). But you can also find many government employees who exit ministries and offices at the end of the day to come and relax on the square. It also attracts many tourists who enjoy the old Dutch architecture. Het Plein brings a variety of people together around drinks and food in the late afternoon and evening, which creates a lively and warm atmosphere on most days of the week.'
Place to socialise all year round
'Coming from Canada, the idea of being able to socialise over a glass of beer outdoors without it being dangerously cold during the winter months is something extraordinary. The weather rarely drops below zero degrees here and gas heaters are almost everywhere on the square. Moreover, the Dutch tradition of hosting borrels (social drinks and snacks before dinner), is a good reason to head off to any of the Plein bars to join in the activity. Although there are places in The Hague where you can find cheaper beer and food, nothing can beat the conviviality of the Plein.'
Book market, impromptu concerts and much more
'The space that is not occupied by terraces also has a lot to offer. There is a weekly book and antique market on the Plein for locals and tourists. It is also not uncommon in the summer to witness surprise music bands stopping over for an impromptu concert. Other special events are also held on the Plein such as protests, promotional stunts or public service campaigns. The square also hosts a huge music night for King’s Day in the Spring.
All in all, the Plein is my favourite place in The Hague because it effortlessly combines conviviality and fun. If you're coming to study at Leiden University, you'll find out what a great place the Plein is.'