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.

Friday, September 23, 2005

European Adventure 2005 Day 14

Today, the gameplan was to check out Groninger Museum and take a canal boat ride. so after sleeping through breakfast, again (heheehee, anybody noticing a theme here... sleep-get lost-beer-food-beer-sleep :p), i quickly looked at my town map to get a general sense of direction and set out to find the museum which is across the street from the central bus station & train station.
The day was sunny and warm and it was an easy walk... the way to Groningen Central Station is very well marked with signage so i had no trouble finding the Groninger Museum, a building of very modern architectural and colorful design.

BUT, what caught my eye and attention is Groningen Central Station... WOW! what a beautiful work of architecture is this grand old building. the train station is quite large and is stunning in its glorious brickwork which seemed to be enhanced by the newer, more sterile brickwork of the neighboring bus station. the area in front of Central Station is currently under construction, but still this does not take away from the beauty of the building. i was so intrigued that i found myself being pulled into the train station rather than the museum. i spent more than 2 hours just wandering around the busy station, having a cappucino in the brasserie and just sitting in the central lobby marveling in the intricate designs of the stained-glass windows, rich old polished woodwork and amazing muli-colored brickwork thinking that whoever designed this building was more than very talented architectural designer, but, also, a real artist in his/her own right.

This is a photo i made by tilting my head straight up at the ceiling as i sat in the lobby.... incredibly beautiful, but my simple camera does not do it justice!

After delighting in the glory of Groningen Central Station, i decided that i would walk along the canal rather than do the boat ride. so, i did a leisurely walk of the perimeter of central Groningen town following the main canal and doing exploratory side trips onto interesting-looking streets. i discovered the university area, many lovely residential areas and saw many many beautiful old boats harbored on the canal. there is one section of the canal that is a very congested with boats of all sizes, types and in various conditions of repair. it seemed like a little city of water dwellers... i got the impression many people lived year-round on their boats harbored there.
One large and well-maintained schooner named Zwadde, caught my interest and as i was admiring it, a man approached and boarded. i said hello and asked if he was the owner of the beautiful boat. he said yes and told me a bit about his ship (he prefers to call his classic seafaring vessel a ship rather than boat :) ). in the summer, he charters sailing excursions and during winter he rents the ship as a residence. he even gave me his website address.... check it out, real nice website with good pics and interesting history of the ship. sounds quite the interesting excursions that are offered and something that i would like to experience, sometime.

After chatting with Mr. Bakker about his ship, we said 'tot ziens', wishing each other a pleasant day and i continued on my merry way. by now it was mid-afternoon and i was getting hungry and thirsty, so i headed up the Nieuwe Ebbingestraat in search of an available outdoor table at a cafe for a beer and bite to eat. i found a comfortable table under the shade of a canopy at Cafe´ Boezeroem. as it turns out, the cafe was not yet open for business (many eating/drinking establishments in Groningen do not open until 4pm), but the very nice cafe operator served me a couple beers and a tasty Tosti of boerenworst [i think that's what it's called] and kass (toasted salami and cheese sandwich). she was very pleasant and we enjoyed a nice interaction as i had my late lunch/early dinner.
Revitalized from my refreshments, i completed my circuit following the canal and then retreated to my hotel to enjoy a cappucino and chocolate in the garden courtyard cafe while accessing the Wifi and updating my journal.

Sometime around 9pm, i headed out to the Cafe de Toeter and discovered the bar jam-packed with patrons enjoying lots of beer, music and 'quiz night'... a trivia competition. the owner and the bartender were pleased to see me return and the owner introduced me to his wife... she is very friendly and chatted with me throughout the busy evening as she helped to serve massive amounts of frothy Grolsch, lots of Jenever and offered various free hors d'ouvres to the crowd. i've been curious to try the Dutch traditional hard liquor, Jenever, and the bartender gave me a small sample of the clear liquor. it is served ice cold in a small shot glass... funny, i found that it has no real taste ( i thought it would taste strongly of juniper like gin does), but i suspect that the stuff probably packs a pretty good punch despite its smoothness in going down the throat.
I spent a couple of hours @ de Toeter enjoying a few beers while chatting with a very good looking, very tall and very charming guy from Leeuwarden. he and his friends were participating in the trivia quiz competition and asked my help with some of the questions that related to books, music and American pop culture. had a really great and relaxed evening at de Toeter. it really is a cool and friendly bar with great atmosphere and i'm glad for the recommendation to visit the place :)
On my way back to my hotel, i decided to pop into a small bar that was playing some good music on the iTunes playlist on the computerised stereo system and have one more beer and a proper shot of Jenever. i was served an apertif glass filled to the very rim of ice cold Jenever and was still amazed that the stuff has no flavor and tastes pretty much like water. lmao, i guess i understand the warning i got previously from a Dutch friend to take it easy with the Jenever... when i woke up the next morning, my head was a bit foggy... was it the effects of the Jenever? or maybe, the combination of several glasses of Grolsch and Jenever? :p

Anyway, my last day in Groningen was very nice and filled with a good time. Groningen is a real nice town.


  1. Jenever can hit hard :D

    The station is indeed very beautifull.. Its good to see how it was restored. When i first came to Groningen in the summer of 1995, you could not see the ceiling of the building. It was all covered up. It took about a year i think to restore the place, but groningen certainly has a nice entrance if you come by train.

  2. gheeheehee, beware of clear liquor that tastes like water! :P

    wow, i cannot believe such beauty was covered... Groningen Station is absolutely stunning in it's intricacy. such a grand thing was the restoration! i wish i had invested in a better camera for this trip, if only to try and capture some of the station's unique artsmanship. here is a photo at this URL that i made in the central lobby, but it didn't turn out so well :/