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 15

After enjoying a good breakfast, i said goodbye to the marvelous staff at Schimmelpenninck Huys and thanked them for providing me with beautifully charming accommodations, excellent service, best Wifi connection (even better than the Wifi @ the businessman hotel i stay at in Utrecht) and friendly smiles.
i loaded my bags in my rental car parked in the nearby garage and having another 3 hours of parking time to my credit, i walked into town in search of the Klompen Zaal Leatherwear on Oude Ebbingestraat. i easily found the shop, but no klompen... only lots of nice leather jackets and coats. i did find a discount shoes shop just up the street and found nice clogs with wooden soles and leather uppers... too bad they only had my size in white (eeks, not a fan of white footwear!). but, since my clogs are about 15 years old and quite worn, i bought a pair of the white ones for a reasonable €14 with the thought of trying to dye them black when i'm back home. good luck, eh?! lol
anyway, I proceeded to the busy shopping district hoping to find brown or black clogs in my size, but found no clogs in any of the shops...
BUT, i did find some real wooden klompen in one of the shops. (ok, i guess all the wooden klompen are really tourist items, but, hey, where do the old-timer Dutch guys get their real klompen??) the klompen in my size were priced at €27. i remembered that the klompen i saw at the cigarette kiosk when i first arrived Groningen were exactly like these, but only €16....

heheheee, so i went to the kiosk on the town centre square and i now have my long-wished for Dutch wooden shoes... quite stylish, eh!? B-)
This is what the tag on the klompen says...
"Certificate of Genuineness
Wooden shoes as protection, for men and women sizes. Inspected in the prescribed way 89/686/EEG Institute:0336. Produced in accordance with the Dutch Wooden Shoes Association (NVK)
The Dutch have worn wooden shoes since the 13th century. Thanks to the orthopedic form wooden shoes support your feet. Especially for children this is important. Hygenic, fresh air around your feet and the wood absorbes perspiration. Thanks to the natural ventilation of wood, cool in summer and warm in winter, a good insulation. Wooden shoes are safe; your feet are protected on all sides by the wood.
Attention: risk of slipping."

btw, even though rather clunky and making my feet look quite large, klompen are surprisingly very comfortable :)

after feeling content with finding clogs and klompen, i had an espresso-for-the-road and said tot ziens to Groningen. i found my way to the highway without any problem and began my drive back to Utrecht with good impressions of Groningen... a city of 179,000 inhabitants, 45,000 of which are students, blending city action with rural ambience and charm. there's so much nightlife and bustling activity of a city, but, yet, the warmth a small town.

the drive back south went smoothly and the weather was good... a bit of haze, but sunny and warm. saw lots of cows grazing and farmers working the fields in heavy farm equipment.

also, stopped along the highway to get a few photos of the modern windmills and what appears to be a huge dyke somewhere along the route A6. i'm guessing i stopped in Flevoland along the Merkermeer just south of the Noordoost Polder and IJsselmeer... i don't really know, but for many kilometres, i saw what must have been literally hundreds of the windmills turning in the strong wind.

btw, if you look closely at this photo (click on pic for closer view), you can see in the distance that maintenance work is being done on the huge dyke... teeheehee, guess that little Dutch boy i read about as a child who stuck his finger in the hole in the dyke to keep the water back has grown up and got himself a machine to make his job easier :p

seriously, it's really very impressive and i could not help but to wonder at the ingenious technology and the Dutch ability to adapt to the conditions of nature.

so, i had a pleasant drive listening to Simple Minds' and Intwine's new CDs and seeing the sights along the highway from Groningen to Utrecht without incident....
until i exited the highway at Utrecht and got lost at the first roundabout. lmao, i spent a good hour backtracking and trying various combinations of exiting spurs on the 3 roundabouts between the highway and my Maliebaan hotel. at one point, i looked over and saw that i was almost within spitting distance from where i wanted to be, but i was in a neighborhood of narrow one-way cobbled streets and cul-de-sacs. aarrgghhhhh, driving in Holland is driving me mad!! lol

finally, found my hotel where i was rewarded with a very convenient parking spot only several metres from the front door :)
spent the evening enjoying a sandwich i bought at a nearby grocery shop and a large draft beer from hotel bar while catching up on emails. then, fell to sleep while watching BBC TV.


  1. my uncle has the same kind of wooden shoes, he's a farmer... they're safe footware too you know... ;)


  2. of all the different colors and patterns of klompen that i've seen in pics and at the kiosk where i bought them, i've always preferred these yellow ones so i'm happy to have found them.
    really good to hear that your uncle has the same ones.... makes me feel like i got the real thing :) :)

    glad i picked them up while in Groningen, too... haven't seen klompen anywhere in Amsterdam nor Utrecht.

  3. Glad to read you enjoyed groningen. Also good to hear that you went back to The Toeter. I have always found it one of the best cafe's in Groningen.. but then, i was prejudiced :D

    You noticed something i have always wondered about. Why some of the big windmills are not turning, while others are.. can't help you with that.. but i admit, it is quite a nice sight. If you drive along that stredge of road, you wonder why some the Dutch are quite often complaining about the fact that the country is so full..

  4. i really did enjoy Groningen alot. a really nice town. so glad i travelled to the north, and glad i did so by car... it really is a nice drive. it does seem so open and spacious compared to the congestion and urban setting in the central and south.
    as much as i like old town Utrecht, at one point this afternoon i found myself wishing i was still in Groningen... too many people here and not enough space for them all! so, i'm hiding out in my sterile hotel room, away from the maddening crowd, on a Saturday night. lol, but, i'll write about that later...

    jah, de Toeter is a great place... felt comfortable and welcomed there. had a blast on quiz night. hehee, and, i know why you are biased. :p also, now know in which historical town you live, too. :) [see how much one can learn from talking with the locals :) ]

    and, yeah, i'd be interested to learn about how the windmills really work and the technology behind them. would probably solve the puzzle about the non-turning windmills. guess i should make that a research project...