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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

European Adventure 2005 Day 13

Began today by again sleeping away the morning in this ultra-quiet and comfortable room, then set off have a strong black coffee at one of the many open-air cafes on town centre.
i was happy to discover that today is market day in Groningen and found the expansive plazas at town centre filled with marketeer booths of many kinds... textiles, various and sundry dry goods, tourist items, jewelry, flowers, a multitude of fresh vegetables and fruits, herbs & spices (both fresh and dried), delicious-looking cheeses, fresh meats and poultry, various types of salami-type dried meats, fresh fishes and food stands that included broodjes (sandwiches) and deep fried fish & frites (fries). the market was bustling and i saw lots of locals purchasing the fresh food goods.
the booth that fascinated me most was one that sold fresh and deep fried fish... there was a guy there working nonstop cleaning and de-boning some sort of small fish (herring, maybe?) for a long line of customers. after squeezing fresh lemon juice over the deboned fish, it was pressed into chopped onion and then the customers would hold the onion-covered fish by the tail, tilt back their head and take a bite of the fish. the fish would be eaten in 3 or 4 bites in this manner. i don't know what this snack is called, but it sure looked like some sort of old traditional culinary delight. i was tempted to try one, but it was a bit too early in the day for me to eat raw fish. now, i wish i would have tried it... might have made a nice breakfast :)

since it was a beautiful and bright sunny day, after browsing the market, i decided that today would be a good day to climb the Martini Tower which dates back to the mid-1400's. the Martini church dates all the way back to 800!!
i paid a very reasonable €3.50 for a very informative brochure of Martini Tower and it's history and a pass that would allow me access to the tower stairway. wow, what an incredible feeling to walk up the very narrow steep staircase made of old brick, stone and mortar that winds upward toward the top of Martini Toren. i felt fortunate that i had the tower and the stairs to myself... it was indescribably cool to be hearing the echos of my own steps while imagining the many echos of those who had shared the same space over the centuries.

while the actual climb took about 20 minutes, i spent nearly 2 hours enjoying the view from the various galleries where you could leave the interior of the stairway and walk the perimeter of the tower. what a view of the town below and the countryside expanding into the horizon in all directions!

also, cool to see up close are the giant bronze bells that are suspended from huuuge timbers inside the tower. i stood for many minutes in the bell chamber gazing upon the ancient beautiful old bells and timbers and marveled on what it must have taken to raise such incredibly large and heavy things so high into the air. in the early days, before crankshafts, it took 12 men pulling at the bell ropes to ring the largest bell. that's a big bell!
i descended the tower as more visitors began to appear on the tower's galleries, feeling a sense of wonder and satisfaction of having been afforded such a pleasurable experience of soaking in some history and enjoying a grand view of Groningen town and Province.

i spent the rest of the afternoon just wandering aimlessly around town, stopping occasionally for a beer. late afternoon, had a dinner of mosterdsoep (mustard soup... something new to me and quite delicious) and bitterballen with a beer and chatted with a woman who immigrated to Germany from American some 20 years ago.

then later in the evening, i stopped by a 'bruine kroeg' called Cafe de Toeter as recommended by Prof., the Dutch guy who reads and comments on this blog. very cool and laid back place with lots of dark wood and an atmosphere that reminds me of an Irish pub. the owner is very friendly, as is the bartender. there was lots of guys throwing darts (it was competition night) and great music was being played by the bartender. the bartender chatted with me about music and played some songs by bands that we were discussing as he served lots of Grolsch draft and other beers to the patrons. the cafe soon became very busy (Groningen really seems to come alive after dark) and it was time for me to head back to the hotel, so i said 'tot ziens' and was on my way.

had another nice day in Holland :)


  1. Wow.. busy day.. Good to see that you did climb the Martini toren, something i still have to do... :)

    The fish was probably herring indeed.. you eat it raw in Holland. I don't know any other country that does that.

    Also glad you enjoyed the Toeter :) I should have warned you about dart night.. but i forgot :oops:

    Looking forward to the next post. :)

  2. You could also go to The Comic Museum.

    I found this potential klompen shop for you: Klompen Zaal Leatherwear, Oude Ebbingestraat 86. I don't know if its still there.. but you could try.

    It's fun to read of your travels through places i have gotten to know so well..

    keep up your very interesting writing!

  3. bedankt for suggestions, again, Prof. :)

    so, do you eat the herring prepared in this manner?

  4. Yup, that's the way it's eaten here :)
    I'm just reading all youre previous enrties... seems like you're having a good time here :)...

    Tim =)

  5. i'm having a great time, Tim :)
    was going to see all BeNeLux during my 3 weeks over on this side of the big pond, but enjoying Ne too much to bother with Be & Lux! lol

  6. now, i'm kicking myself that i didn't try the herring @ the Groningen market. dang, wonder if i missed my chance to try it? what is it called when prepared and eaten like that, anyhow?