Life in The Hague

While the ICTY was an intense and demanding place to work, the stress was alleviated by its location in the Dutch international city of The Hague. Several other international institutions were located there including the International Court of Justice, the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons), and EUROPOL, to name a few. The Hague is now the home of the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Australian Embassy was a favourite meeting point for the numerous Aussie expats living in The Hague and provided a perfect venue for many enjoyable social functions.

The majority of local Dutch residents of The Hague spoke English, no doubt due in part to the high number of international workers living in the city. This made life that much easier outside the work place. The Hague has a vibrant restaurant scene – reflecting the international nature of its population.

Holland has four distinct seasons and my favourite was Spring. Almost overnight the dullness of winter shed its greyness with an explosion of colour and new plant growth. The change commenced with crocus flowers emerging in the parks and the new soft green buds of the trees, followed shortly by the tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. Located between The Hague and Schiphol international airport, about 46 kms to the north of the city, are the famous colourful tulip fields around the town of Lisse, including the spectacular Keukenhof gardens.

I think Keukenhof was my favourite experience when living in The Hague. Without fail, I visited the gardens twice a year; once at the start of Spring and again some weeks later when the tulips and many other flowers were at their peak. The trees with their fresh light green leaves contributed to the full glory of the gardens. I treasure my memories of these visits to this wonderland.


The famous Keukenhof gardens – 2004

The CBD of The Hague with its heritage buildings, palaces, row houses and castles were a delight to admire and visit, including the famous Peace Palace housing the International Court of Justice. The city’s tram and public transport system, as well as the safe bicycle paths, made The Hague the envy of many international cities.

The nearby beach front of Scheveningen, with its marvellous pier jutting out into the English Channel, was a delightful place to visit at any time of the year. Each summer the beachfront was transformed by the emergence of pop up beach bars, each providing a separate theme with a different dining and drinking experience.

The Frederik Hendriklaan, fondly known as “The Fred”, was a busy shopping strip located close to the ICTY. Wandering up and down the street was a wonderful experience. Street parades and an organ grinder were a common sight providing much enjoyment to the pedestrian traffic. Christmas time in The Fred was a special experience, with Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) and Sinterklaas leading the parade to the delight of the children lining the street.

The Hague was a magnificent place to live – it holds many fond memories.