2_3_DiscoverBenelux_Issue14_January2015_Scan Magazine 1 26/01/2015 19:14 Page 22
Discover Benelux | Travel Feature | Groningen
miscarriages, certainly not for the squeamish and I quickly move on. In terms of shopping, Groningen also has plenty to offer. All the major brands have outlets in the busy Herestraat but I head for the characteristic Folkingestraat, where I am rewarded with many quirky, independent shops. I walk into De Bourgondier, a delicacy shop selling dozens of types of cheeses, gifts and Groninger specialities. Drawn to the golden goodness of the Dutch cheese, many readily available to taste, I follow the shopkeeper’s recommendation to try their new Groninger spiced cheese with cloves and mustard. It has the salty creamy texture of Gouda yet with a punchy flavour. I continue on to the Vismarkt, after the Grote Markt, the second biggest market square with regular food and textile markets throughout the week. At the top of the square sits the imposing Korenbeurs, built in the 1860s. Once a wheat exchange, now a supermarket, the neoclassical building has a beautiful and bright interior. The cast iron structure with large ceiling windows, helped traders to check the quality of the grains through their colour.
Hanseatic trade Silently towering over it, is the late-medieval church the Der Aa-Kerk. Painted in historic ochre yellow, the church was named after a former nearby stream, the Drentsche A. It is no longer in active use; the Der Aa-Kerk can be hired as a venue for events, conferences and even club nights. Alongside it, in the shadows of the church I find a tiny shop
In the shadow of the Der Aa-Kerk is the cosy shop Het Hanze Huis, inspired by the Hanseatic league or Hansa. Groningen became part of this association of merchants in 1282.
called Het Hanze Huis, after the Hanseatic trade league that helped Groningen to become a centre of trade. Inside I am instantly handed a glass of hot kwast, a sour, wintery lemonade. The shop is almost too small for the wealth of colours and products inside. “All our products come from independent European companies that are at least 100 years in their trade,” the shopkeeper tells me. “We select only quality products from their place of origin, that don’t have a supermarket feel to them.” Certainly none of the brands I see look familiar, which is both disorientating and intriguing: marzipan from Lübeck in Germany, syrups from Lille in France, sweets from Turin in Italy… Before long it is time for dinner again and I make my way to the Poelestraat. With bars and dance cafes lining the street – albeit currently shut – this is the centre for Groninger nightlife. For my meal I settle on
One of the latest additions to Groningen is the Infoversum, a dome-shaped cinema that was thought up by professor Edwin Valentijn to make science more accessible to the general public.
grand café Time Out serving regional dishes with a twist that all have a title in the local dialect. In my best Gronings I order ‘Neem joen gemak’ (take your pick), the schnitzel, a dish of the day. Unfortunately the waiter is from the neighbouring province of Friesland so my attempt falls on deaf ears. After a fulfilling meal and an intensely sweet dessert of white chocolate brulee ‘Zo wit as snij’ (white as snow), I make my way back to the station to end the trip.
Groningen in short - With just over 200,000 inhabitants and still growing, it is the seventh largest city in the Netherlands. - An inhabitant in Groningen is called ‘stadjer’ and in the local dialect the city is called ‘Grunnen’. - Once crowned best cycling city of the Netherlands, locals take the bike on average 1.3 times a day, much more often than the national average of 0.8. - Stadjers are very proud of their city, competing with 74 other cities around Europe, Groningers proved to be the happiest inhabitants in their home town. - The city is built on the end of a low sand hill and the oldest remnants date to 300 BC. The current centre is still roughly the same as the original 11th century layout. - Celebrating its 400th anniversary last year, the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (known as the RUG) is the second oldest still existing university in the country.
22 | Issue 14 | February 2015
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and France.