Monday, June 15, 2009

What's in a name

Let's face it, every word and therefore name has a unique personality stigma attached to it. You hear it and it triggers a certain mood, or instantly gives you a certain feel of the said word or name. If you're Romanian, when you hear the name "Vasile" you think of a thick-skinned, sun-burnt man from the countryside, if you hear "galoshes" you think of a posh English man trotting about on a rainy London day, if you hear "cinnamon" you think of warm childhood mornings and your grandma's cooking. Of course, every interpretation of any word depends on the hearer's perspective on things and life experience, but there is, as in all things, an agreed "general" opinion established by the majority or if you will, by the so called "normal" class. The reason I'm going on about this is that this past week-end my perception of one certain name has done a very unexpected 360 on me. I'm talking about The Hague.

I'm not sure what imagery others get in their heads from hearing of this city, but for me it used to be, until this past Saturday, international politics, trials, Queen Beatrix and Milosevic. When I thought of it, I pictured something dry, grey and boring, resembling the UN quarters in Vienna. Which shows how much imagination I have.

On Friday, the husband, kind of tired of my moaning about how because of the wedding costs we can't really afford to up and fly to wherever we feel like when we're bored of Düsseldork, said he'll take me out for a roadtrip. I like roadtrips, especially because I get to pick the music and we make numerous stops at gas stations to buy guilty pleasure snacks under the pretext of "hunger". So on Saturday morning we left the house armed with our cameras, CDs galore freshly picked off the shelf and an assortment of beef jerkey he brought back from the States. We drove and drove (I had no idea to where, and as it turns out, neither had he) until we hit a roadblock and I fell asleep. I tend to do that in cars.

When I woke up we were stopped in a gas station in The Netherlands and the husband was getting directions. He shyly admitted he was going to take me to this one place, but it's so remote it doesn't even show up on the GPS, so the man in the gas station told him to take me somewhere else, really close. This is how we ended up in The Hague, the Scheveningen district to be precise.

Now, I've never been a girl to get excited by the sea, the beach, a colorful pier, a lively promenade, pink candy stalls, rainbow pillows, lime-flavoured drinks and carousels. And by never I mean always. And this is exactly what we found here. I kept asking Timo if he's sure we're in The Hague. He said yes. And I'll tell you what, it wasn't just the beach. We drove around the city a little before heading back home and I literally wrote down names of streets I want to walk down when we go back. The harbor looked cute, the area next to it was full of little bars where locals were playing poker while tending to a jug of beer each, then we got lost on some little residential streets that were quiet and looked like a film set, then the posh streets with expensive houses so beautiful and different, yet harmonious and understated. Yes, I am officially a fan and officially pleasantly surprised, for the first time in a long time. This is so not how I imagined The Hague. And I can only hope these accidents will keep happening in the future, otherwise there's a lot of little gems that I'll lose in the travel dust due to some unfortunate name mishap.

I conclude with my "song of the day": Bouncing Souls - Sounds of the City.


Anonymous Catalin said...

Hmmmm... The Hague you say? Sounds interesting... Never made it to The Netherlands so I guess it's one for the list (see, I don't travel that much!)

11:47 AM  
Blogger silvia g said...

i guess you're busy kite surfing, diving in the maldives, barbecueing in your new garden and all that boring stuff. i feel your pain.

12:24 PM  
Blogger CosmICS said...

Good... now I wont to see it! look what you've done!

10:01 AM  

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