SIX weeks in the Hague?!

Yes, this is my sixth week here! It’s so hard to believe. It feels like I’ve been here a lot longer (in the best possible sense), and I’m already dreading the day when I’ll have to leave!

This week has been wonderful. After enjoying nice weather both days last weekend, I closed out  my Sunday by joining a friend at one of the beachfront bars to watch the Dutch soccer team make their last stand in the Euro 2012 tournament. After losing their previous two games, there wasn’t much hope for this one – but nonetheless, the residents of Den Haag were decked out in orange and glued to various tv screens. We sat on a couch and watched the game on a giant screen outside (with the sand behind us) – which is pretty much the best way to watch tv of any sort. Here was our view:

This bar (called Blue Lagoon) also provided a DJ for the time before and after the game as well as during halftime, when an adorable toddler danced to LMFAO’s “Sexy And I Know It” – I caught about a minute of it on video, and it’s practically a YouTube sensation in the making. Anyway, Portugal won (to my great pleasure; I was wearing orange but rooting for Portugal!), so that’s the end of the orange wave here. By the way, they’re SO into this tournament that this sand sculpture is right at the entrance to the beach:

On Tuesday I left work a little early along with several Croatian colleagues to attend a (random) celebration of Croatia’s entry into the EU on July 1 of next year. This took place at town hall and was a TON of fun. We got to drink imported Karlovačko beer and took home quite a few souvenirs, including pouches of lavender, Croatian chocolate, the red wooden hearts that you can buy in Zagreb, and a wide range of tourist material, including a DVD. There were many Croatians there, and as one of them said after meeting me, “being here is like feeding your soul!” We also enjoyed a performance by a beautiful, young cellist from Zagreb and met her right before we left. She liked my name so much she said she would name her daughter after me! I also got a picture with the Croatian ambassador to the Netherlands:

After this, I joined two other ICTY lawyers (one from Bosnia, one from Ireland) for dinner and then went with them and an English lawyer to an Irish pub to watch the England vs. Ukraine game. Several other Bosnian guys from the Tribunal were there, and I spent most of the time talking with them. I’ve now got quite a group of BCS speakers who are willing to help me  learn a bit more of the language! (These guys have all greeted me in BCS when they’ve seen me in the last few days.)

Yesterday was my friend’s 25th birthday, so a bunch of us interns went back to Blue Lagoon for an evening of celebration on the beach. Fortunately, the weather cooperated; it was about 70 degrees yesterday! I ate some raw oysters (with beets, quite good!):

but I could have ordered this guy:

By the end of the night there were about 20 of us there, and six of us ended up going down onto the beach shortly before midnight. Given that it was summer solstice and we were already having a great time, it seemed to me only appropriate that we go for a swim – so we did! It was still a little light outside even though it was so late, and the water, far from being freezing, was just the right temperature – brisk but refreshing. Four of us stayed in for about 20 minutes. It was the perfect way to end the night, and we’ve decided to try to go as often as possible for the rest of the summer!

This weekend I’m hoping to go to Utrecht (another Dutch city) with my Croatian friend and then perhaps back to Amsterdam to see more! But if the weather is as nice as it was last weekend… might have to go to the beach. Here are some pictures from recent morning walks:

In summary: life is good. So very blessed!

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