The Hague is the political capital of the country, where the Parliament and Supreme Courts reside, and also most of the international embassies. The Hague also has a headquarters for the United Nations. But Amsterdam is the official capital, the financial center of economics and culture, and the Amsterdam Stock Exchange is the oldest stock exchange in the world.
Let me back up a bit. When planning our trip to the Netherlands I looked at flights and they were really inexpensive. It's true what they say about flights around Europe being really cheap. (As low as £15 one way.) But what we've discovered is that it's NOT cheap to rent a car big enough for the six of us, and it's not convenient to haul car seats through airports, let alone the four children. A friend from work told Richard that when traveling to the west coast of mainland Europe, the EuroTunnel is the way to go. It worked out really well. Flying to big cities is fabulous if you plan on staying in the city and using public transport. But I knew we would be going all over the country and we would need a car, so we just took our own!
We left on Wednesday afternoon, the kids were in between terms and on holiday for two weeks and Richard had the Friday before and Monday after Easter off work for bank holidays. We put everything in the car and didn't have to mess with kids or luggage until we got to the apartment. Soooo nice. It took about an hour and a half to get to Folkstone where we board the train. We had booked a reservation in advance but it wasn't crowded and since we arrived early they put us on the first train going out. We drove right up, and drove right on to the train. There are bathrooms on the train and you can get up and stretch your legs. The train goes down into a tunnel underneath the English Channel and in only 35 minutes we were in Calais, France.
It's always nice to stay in a place with more than one bedroom and a kitchen to make some of our own meals. With websites like HomeAway and AirBnB it's been pretty easy to find reasonably priced places to stay for a family. After the kids explored the apartment and claimed their beds (I totally remember doing these things when we traveled as kids) we all went to bed.
I won't get into the history of it, I definitely suggest reading about it, but the palace is a monument to world peace. I loved it so much. I also won't get into my ever-growing inclinations toward pacifism, but I consider myself a huge advocate for peace. (I suppose most people do.) The palace is also home to the International Courts of Justice, (very interesting to read about) The Permanent Court of Arbitration (also interesting to read about), The Hague Academy of International Law, and the Peace Palace Library. The library was a request/demand of Andrew Carnegie, who more or less funding the building of the peace palace.