Scheveningen Stories and Tips

Scheveningen: Try Wrapping Your Tongue on That Name!

Grand Hotel of Scheveningen Photo, Scheveningen, Den Haag/The Hague

The last two times I have visited the Netherlands, I have not had much difficulty communicating with my friend Monique or other natives because several inhabitants of the Netherlands speak English as their second language. But whenever I am in a foreign country, I do try to pick up a few words of the native language to communicate with the natives and not look like an ugly American. Monique knows that I am willing to try a few Dutch words, but she makes sure I don't pull a muscle in my tongue in the process. When she and Piet told me that we were visiting the beach resort town of Scheveningen on the North Sea the Sunday after my birthday, I pronounced the name of the town with the "sch" as in the word "shout". Monique said that was the wrong way to pronounce Scheveningen, and then pronounced it as if she had a hairball. More like "skheveningen". I tried to pronounce it the way Monique did, but she told me to not try too hard. Oh well.

If I had been visiting Scheveningen during World War II, I would have been accused of being a German spy for the Dutch had incorporated the shibboleth way of detecting if someone was not Dutch and trying to pose as a Dutch person by the way they spoke. The name "Scheveningen" was a code word during the Occupation for German spies. Glad I was visiting The Netherlands in 2011 instead of 1941.

Scheveningen's history dates from as far back as 1280 when it was a small little fishing village and ship port supposedly settled by Anglo-Saxon settlers. In 1470, a storm destroyed much of Scheveningen and had to be rebuilt. On August 10, 1653, the Battle of Scheveningen was fought between the Dutch and British Navies off the coast of the town. The battle lasted most of the day and ended in a draw, so the British and Dutch claim, but the British seemed to have come out on top after the signing of the Treaty of Westminster ending the first Anglo-Dutch War.

In 1818, Jacob Pronk, an architect, built the first changing room for tourist to change in after swimming in the North Sea and the beach resort town of Scheveningen was born. Today, mostly German and Dutch tourists looking to get away from the city come to Scheveningen to enjoy the beaches, the esplanade that runs along the beach, bungee jump off the the platform on the pier, or tour the Sea Life Aquarium (see separate entry). There is an annual sandsculpture building contest held at Scheveningen, and we saw a couple sculptures along the esplanade protected by fencing. Monique, Piet, Manouk, Jiska and I did more walking of the esplanade and enjoying the fresh sea air and browzing at the many crafts booths and other booths selling things from pet supplies to clothing. Restaurants can be expensive in Scheveningen, so we all enjoyed our lunch from one of the food booths along the Esplanade. I now have a love for Kipper and Chips, which is a fish native to the North Sea and chips. It came out hot and fresh and with tartar sauce, I was a happy camper enjoying it for my lunch. Monique, Piet, and the girls had hamburgers. There is an old carousel on Scheveningen's Esplanade that reminded me of the Looff Carousel that I grew up near in Rhode Island, and I regret wearing a skirt that day to ride on one of the beautifully carved horses.

After a while in the sun, Monique, Piet, Manouk, Jiska and I got out of the sun and went into the mall at the end of the Esplanade. It was just like many malls here in the USA, and I wasn't too impressed, but there was a shoe store that we spent time in, and Manouk got a pair of ballerina flats while we were there.

After leaving the mall, we saw several motorcyclists on the road getting ready to leave Scheveningen. I was having a Sons of Anarchy moment and looked around for Chibbs or Clay to jump out, but it was just several Dutch Harley riders out for a weekend of fun and riding on the coast. When they started their bikes and rode off, it was quite a concert of loudness!

Parking in Scheveningen is a nightmare for anyone wanting to tour the town. It is best to park your car at a tram station in Den Haag and take the tram to Scheveningen. The trams run regularly even on spring and summer weekends, and it will allow you to enjoy your time on the beach and not worry about getting a parking ticket. Scheveningen, irregardless of its crazy pronounciation, is a place I would love to return to in the near future!

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