I find it very hard to leave Utrecht like all good holiday romances but it’s time to head off in search of the vegetarian butcher in Den Haag on my way back to the UK. Den Haag was just a one night’s stand. I decided to find a laundrette to get all my clothes service-washed and stroll to the beach at Scheveningen while my clothes were spinning and drying. How marvellous to head home with a suitcase full of clean clothes. It was much further than I imagined to the beach but I do love a good long walk. The pier and the helter-skelter were tantalisingly close but I failed to find my way there getting lost in the vast building works of new apartment blocks that are rising up all around the area. The canals led to docks, chock-a-block with boats and yachts and seaside restaurants.
I stopped off for cheesy pancakes as everyday is Shrove Tuesday in the Netherlands. Oh how they love their sugary syrups and savoury toppings with eateries entirely dedicated to the art of pan fried batters.
I woke early the next day full of excitement. I’m in the birthplace of the Vegetarian Butcher and even the rain couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm. Though I did manage to slip over, in very slow motion outside a shop on my way there. Someone had dropped some almost invisible chilli sauce on the smooth slate pavement. As I stepped several times and struggled to stay upright I sadly crumpled to the floor across my suitcase. I laughed even if nobody else did. And then I found it – De Vegetarische Slager (insert heavenly music – the finale of the Saint Saëns organ Symphony did for me in my head – Maestoso Allegro the bit with the syrupy strings and the Liberace pianos) it was like a religious epiphany for a long term vegetarian.
Yes that’s three buildings wide. And inside it was packed to the rafters with vegetarian delights. Time to meet the man with the carrot blood on his hands, the high priest of non-slaughter – the master butcher or Slager as they call him here. Praise be!
It was a day of veggie finds in Den Haag. I stumbled upon vegan Birkenstocks too and had to buy the blue ones. I have cartoon feet now but guilt free at least.
Next stop Rotterdam to return once more to the world’s best scumbag barbers of Rotterdam – Schorem.
I came here for a head shave in March and was so excited to return and have my beard trimmed into shape too. No appointment necessary, just walk in sit down and enjoy the wonderful world of barbers who are so hip and cool at their work that they own a school across the road where you can train to cut hair and develop techniques not practised elsewhere. Believe me when I say that all of the guys here are so skilled up in techniques that they put all other barbershops to shame. The interior is wonderful too with vast wooden Art Nouveau mirrors and wondrous old chairs.
As you sit and wait your turn you see customers sit in the chairs and be transformed. So they face the clients away from the mirrors. Clients and barbers all chat and laugh with each other.
Free beers, coffees and canapés are served as you wait your turn in the vintage chairs. And then comes the special and most magical moment – your reveal – as they spin round those chairs towards the mirrors the customers get to feast their eyes on their new look. Truly, every man’s face lights up and beams with absolute pleasure and delight at seeing their new look. I can’t stress this enough, this place is like facial surgery. Ordinary guys arrive and are totally transformed into happy handsome men ready for a photoshoot. It is such a joy watching other guys getting their haircut and their mood transformed along with their hair. Oh how I wish I had some hair that I could come out looking completely fresh and new. This time my wonderful razor technician was Saifa. What an amazing dude he is.
Guys, seriously book a stay in Rotterdam and go get yourselves a totally new look. In every barbershop I visit every place I visit all around Europe I talk about the Schorem Scumbags and every barber everywhere knows about this place. They really are the world’s best. Many barbers say that they want to book a refresher course in the Schorem school which is flattery indeed but to be honest never mind a refresher course I’d book for a full set of courses. The dudes at the Holy Ashtray are streaks ahead of any barbers anywhere. I will return as often as I can.
Then it was off to the Hook of Holland for an overnight ferry home. What a great way to cross the sea on the Stena line to Harwich. My cabin was fabulous with a fridge full of gratis items. There’s no long queues and obtrusive customs areas like in airports.
I would recommend this to anyone who fancies a giant porthole through which the moonlight shimmered all night as we sailed towards the UK.
While I’ve never fancied the idea before I am now considering a cruise to the Azores and the Caribbean.