zephyr illusions photo by donna October 1992. The view atop Chasseral, Jura Mountains looking across Switzerland to The Alps on the horizon. Fog, intensely thick, rising from Lac Bienne and stretching its fingers high onto the Lignières-Plateau de Diesse after wholly filling the valley below the plateau.

Monday, September 19, 2005

European Adventure 2005 Day 11

Today, i left Utrecht and head north to Groningen. didn't do so badly getting here, either.... what should have been 185 kilomtres and 1.75 hours driving time only took me 210 kilometres and 2.5 hours. Yay! :D
i found my way to the highway and out of Utrecht without problem and sailed along the well maintained highways toward Groningen. it was a sunny day and a nice drive through farmlands. saw herds of cows and sheep and even some very large beautiful horses grazing in the green fields as i drove. also, saw a whole bunch of modern Dutch windmills lined up nice and straight and continuing for kilometres into the horizon so i guess i was driving through the famous polders that are created by the draining of water from the land. the windmills weren't the picturesque kind that Americans always think of, these were very modern and businesslike. they look like giant airplane propellers, either 2 or 3 blades, mounted on top of very tall poles and they were turning slowly and methodically. a few weren't turning, but were stationary.... made me wonder if they were malfunctioning and awaiting maintenance. i should have stopped to get a photo of them, but didn't. silly me! will try to do that on the way back south in a few days.

so, as i'm approaching Groningen i'm feeling very good about myself having successfully driven across The Netherlands without getting lost. but i shouldn't have been so smug.... it took me only about 2 minutes once i exited the highway to get lost. lol, i discovered that Groningen is a town of one-way streets. this worked out pretty much in my favor because after about half an hour of driving around the town i found myself back at the highway. cool, i got back on the highway and tried to find my way, again. woohoo, after only a few minutes, i found myself pretty close to where i thought i wanted to be and asked someone for directions. yippeee, i was right in front of the parking garage i was looking for and only a minute walk from my hotel. very cool! B-)

and, wow! what a grand hotel it is! i love old buildings and this one has captured my heart and my imagination. i have never stayed in such a marvelous hotel as is Schimmelpenninck Huys. this old house's history dates all the way back to 1100!!! with the last major building works being done in 1723.... the ceilings must be 12-14 feet high, marble floors, deepset windows of massive proportions, rich old woodwork, chandeliers, fireplaces, steep but wide winding staircases, sunroom, library/lounge, restaurant and large dining rooms, courtyard garden.... incredibly impressive and beautiful.
oh! and, not to forget that an elegant and extensive breakfast menu, Wifi and bicycle use (very practical amenity!) is included in the room rate... the cool thing is that this hotel is much more beautiful and charming, but considerably less expensive than the other hotels with which i have booked stays. amazing.

this single room is narrow like the room i had in Amsterdam, but is larger. and, i thought the window in the Amsterdam room was large.... this Groningen room's window is massive..... it must be 10' tall and 6 feet wide. it nearly fills the wall facing the garden. hehee, to open and close the window, i've got to hunker down below the counter/work station that has been placed wall-to-wall across it. good thing there are 2 brass handles on the giant window to hold onto while removing the block of wood that holds the window open. medium-thick dark peach velvet drapes keep the room warm at night when loosened from the brass hooks.... which reminds me, i've noticed that the Dutch don't seem to cover their windows like Americans. they live and work behind open windows rather than closing off the world and hiding behind curtains. i find that an interesting thing.... but, here i sit with curtains and drapes pulled back so i can enjoy the view as i type away on my laptop.
somehow, sitting in this room, feel i'm soaking in some real aspect of the Dutch culture, history and lifestyle.... may sound silly, but i told ya this ancient building is capturing my imagination :)

lovely garden view i have from my room, eh? :)

anyway, pretty tired from my adventures of yesterday and today, so walked up the street to the town centre and had a simple supper of beer and sandwich while admiring the church clock tower and then crashed early. looking forward to checking out Groningen properly... so, stay tuned....


  1. Glad you found Groningen. Do you remember me telling you about Cafe de Toeter? It's quite close to your hotel (across the market square). If you walk to the big central square and stand in the middle. Face the ABN Amro Bank (the Martini toren is to the front-right of you). On your right you'll see Vindicat. One of the oldest students clubs in the Netherlands.
    If you walk past the V&D.

    If you walk to the front between the ABN AMRO and the V&D (warehouse) you will find a street. Follow that street, passing among others a AH (grocery store) till you come to the water. You'll find "De Toeter" on your right hand site.

    If you stop by there, say hi to Mike (the owner) for me... :)

    He'll have no idea who Prof Kienstra is, so maybe you should try Matthijs (lol).

    Hope you enjoy Groningen. I loved my five years of living there. Its such a great city if you are a student. A mayor part of the population is student, so you'll find it caters a lot to students. For example the bars are open almost round the clock (if you know where to find them).

    Remember you would post a picture of the sight from the top of the Martini toren? :D

    Well, that's a long message.. will stay in touch.

  2. yes! i remember you told me about the bruine kroeg, Cafe de Toeter. bedankt voor the great directions on how to find the place... lol, something i can always use :p i'm going to check it out, for sure. and, will deliver your message to Mike... hope he's in when i get there :)

    and, yup, got the Martini toren climb & pic on my agenda :)

    don't hesitate to make long messages about places to check out... locals make much better tour guides than do travel brochures :D