The invitation to visit The Hague arrived in my inbox quite out of the blue and the decision to visit was a swift one. I had only 10 days to arrange travelling details and taking into account all other bits and pieces or bells and whistles, I had no time whatsoever to look for “things to see and do” in The Hague. Actually, I did try once or twice, but for some weird reason all internet sites did not seem to be organised in a structured way to offer the traveller with few, condensed, accurate and modular advice on what to do, what to see and basically where this the damn city centre was!
It was only in the afternoon of the first day when after a nice air trip that included a hop in a European capital and after I had completed my meeting with my business acquaintances, I found myself in the hotel room where after a nice and warm bath and before heading for the town I did a slightly more thorough search in the internet and created a rough view of what is worth seeing and what I would actually be seeing.
In the list of things, one thing that “raised my eyebrows” was the Madurodam – some kind of a miniature park with replicas of some of the most indicative and famous Dutch landmarks, roughly 3 km from the city centre.
“Too childish – too far away…”, I thought.
The afternoon I stayed in the city centre but then the next day, as If I slept over the idea of going slightly outside the main city centre, and as long as the country time difference presented me with one additional hour totalling the available time to 4 hours – initially I woke up at 7 and thought it was 8 – I decided to visit and actually walk to the place.
It was a great day and a great walk.
The city centre was pretty dead, the total antithesis compared to the previous evening, but the streets in the periphery of the city centre were busier and filled with cars and bicycles and trams moving people from homes to work. It was a very peaceful view – sometimes though up to the level of falling asleep. Still, it seemed like an ideal environment to wake up and walk, drive or cycle to work …not having to drive in a car-packed, horn—polluted city. The cafes, small shops and groceries had opened and it was nice to appreciate and feel the city vibes. Forty minutes later and after a frisk walk I arrived at Madurodam.
I enquired for the time it takes to go around and I almost smiled a sardonic smile when I was informed the piece of information that it required the minimum 2 hours. I only had 30 minutes! “Let’s give it a shot” – I thought. I paid the ticket, I entered and it was when I turned left from the main entrance which blocked my view that I was left in awe.
In front of me there lay a collection of numerous miniature buildings that composed one of the most impressive pieces of tourist attractions I had ever seen. In a jaw-dropped mode, I started following the path and looking at all the miniatures! There was a main path in the periphery of the park and smaller paths where you could get much closer to those building replicas.
The closer I was getting to those replicas the more interesting they were becoming. The amount of detail on the buildings was impressive. I thought that a group of people could easily have spent months finishing up one building only – not taking into account also the relevant costs! And then I started peering into the details and seeing the really nitty gritty details that were portrayed. Face details, clothe details, window details, car interior details, ship details… There was not a single thing you could find any flaw. All were replicated in the most accurate way – for a park of that size! Ship ports, railways, ships, wind turbines, medieval buildings, concerts, windmills, airport, stadium, bridges, cafes and market places … everything was there!
I realised at some point I was laughing with the joy of a small child…
That park was the dream of a child – possibly a boy. I thought I could just stare at all the buildings for hours. I could just play with the cars, the ships, the airplanes. I thought I could even build my own buildings or replica creations and stare proudly at my own creations.
I was gobsmacked. My initial reservation in visiting the park gave its place to a child’s joy when they hand a child a beautiful present.
I made a final walk in the periphery of the park and then the last five minutes I dedicated to buy some memorabilia, souvenirs and presents for family and friends. Then I walked to the exit, said a goodbye and turned right to find my way through the park to the Gemeentemuseum Museum, but however hard i tried, I could not get the Madurodam out of my mind.
If your whereabouts get you in The Hague, do try it!
If you have kids, it is a must!