Groningen is the youngest city in the Netherlands, with over half the population under the age of 35. It is a popular city for students -- also for students from Germany, especially for those from nearby areas of northern Germany who don’t find it so difficult to learn the Dutch language.
Having so many students makes Groningen a lively town, but also causes stresses and strains on the housing market. Often four or five students will get together and rent a large apartment, but recently the city has started limiting this practice, because they claim the traditional tenants are being crowded out of their flats and the landlords are charging too much money.
Students feel they are being forced out of their apartments with the promise that they can live in new student dorms – which, however, have not been built yet.
Some students have been threatening to leave Groningen and study elsewhere, for instance in Antwerp, Belgium. Antwerp is also a lively student town and speaks the same language (more or less) as in the Netherlands.
Update: Another reason for Dutch students transferring to Antwerp is that a university education in Belgium is even less expensive than in the Netherlands. Dutch students have to pay basic fees of nearly €1,800 to study in the Netherlands. In Belgium fees are €600. As of September 2012, there are 917 Dutch students registered at the University of Antwerp, up from 658 a year earlier.
Next: Hampshire Hotel
Maybe it sounds a bit weird, but as an experience traveler I know that you every now and then need this kind of information in advance: electricity in the Netherlands is 230 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. If you travel to the Netherlands with a device that does not accept 230 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter.
There are three main types of voltage converter. Resistor-network converters will usually be advertised as supporting something like 50-1600 Watts. They are light-weight and support high-wattage electrical appliances like hair dryers and irons. However, they can only be used for short periods of time and are not ideal for digital devices. Some companies sell combination converters that include both a resistor network and a transformer in the same package. This kind of converter will usually come with a switch that switches between the two modes. If you absolutely need both types of converter, then this is the type to buy.
Outlets in the Netherlands generally accept 1 type of plug: Two round pins (see the picture). If your appliances plug has a different shape, you may need a plug adapter. Depending on how much you plan to travel in the future, it may be worthwhile to get a combination voltage converter and plug adapter.
Let’s make no secret of it. We both like a nice cold glass of beer. Being at our travel pace is always a challenge to find a beer we like, which reflects our taste of having a beer. At Alkmaar (and this probably counts for our entire home country) it was rather difficult. We found out that there are a few local beers, only known in the particular area. But anyway nothing really special, which was a bit of a disappointment. Therefore we finally bought the same beer as we drink back home, Grolsch!
Grolsch Brewery (Grolsche Bierbrouwerij) is a Dutch brewery founded in 1615 by Willem Neerfeldt in Groenlo (Grolle). The beer from Groenlo gradually became better known in the surroundings of Groenlo. Through the years the demand for Grolsch beer shifted from a local to national and eventually international level. It is a bit bitter and has a pale colour. You can taste the hop flavour, and has a alcohol content of 5 percent. You should try it!
This sculpture near the roundabout at Hereplein shows one of the main duties of parents in Groningen: teaching their offspring how to ride bicycles.
(Not that the kids seem to have much trouble with this.)
Nearby there is an up-market children’s daycare center (second photo) which I liked because of the crown and the Dutch word Kindertagverblif.
OK, Kinder means children, as in German. Tag means day, also as in German. But verblif? It must be related to the German word verbleiben, meaning to stay. So this is a place where children stay during the daytime, logically enough, but the funny word verblif makes it sound like some sort of very jolly and magical place. (Which perhaps it is.)
Next: Students in Groningen
Every year on the 28th of August they celebrate "Gronings Ontzet" in the city. And they are big celebrations, noticeable in the whole city. There is lots and lots to do, but my favourite is the fireworks at the end of the celebrations. Every 28th of August they give a magnificent show, something you shouldn't miss when you are in town.
"Gronings ontzet" is as a reminder of the liberation from "Bommen Berend", Bishop of Munster, in 1672.
This picture of me is taken on Sint Maarten, which is on the 11th of November. You can compare it a bit with Halloween and "trick or treat", but without the costumes. It is an event for the children. Late in the afternoon, just before it gets dark, the children go from door to door with a chinese lantern in their hands, singing special Sint Maarten songs :
♫♫ Sint Maarten, Sint Maarten,
De koeien hebben staarten,
De meisjes hebben rokjes aan,
en daar komt Sint Martinus aan. ♫♫
Hahaha, sorry for that, some childhood memories of the songs we used to sing. I couldn't resist putting the lyrics on this page :-)
And after singing this little song you get candy! Isn't that great! Hahaha, I always loved getting candy! And you can see that clearly in this picture :-) My eyes are sparkling :-))
Sint Maarten is not know throughout the whole country and sadly to say it seems to be disappearing, but here in Groningen the tradition still seems to live on.
Since Groningen is known for being a university city I have to show you a picture of the main building of the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (University of Groningen) or RUG.
"The current main building of the University dates from 1909 and was designed by the renowned government architect Vrijman. The façade is adorned with five allegorical sandstone figures: Minerva, Scientia, Historia, Prudentia, and Mathematica. The aula has stained-glass windows by Johan Dijkstra, and a mural by Wout Muller and Mathijs Röling." from the University website
When in groningen you can't miss the bicycles. Groningen is a university city. as students do not have much money, most of them travel by bike. The entire city centre is open for bicycles and on foot only.
In 2002 it was announced bicycle city of the Netherlands.
In Groningen a bicycle is 30% faster then a car. In the city are 24 guarded bicycle stands.
People from Groningen are proud of their heritage. They have their own dialect, flag and even anthem.
The city flag is a flag with three horizontal stripes: white-green-white. It is used on the official city holiday: august 28th.
What is august 28th? It is the day that the city was freed in 1672. The bishop of Munster, Bernhard van Galen, was forced to end the siege of the city after six weeks. The city was shot and had bad damages by the bombs of the bishop. The bishop was named Bommen Berend (bombing berend), and the festival to commemorate this day is stil called Bommen Berend by the locals.
Every year on the 28th of august there is a huge party ending with fireworks. The carnival is in the city the entire week.
Every year on Good Friday we have our Flower Market.
The city center is then filled with marketeers selling off their flowers and the streets are packed with people, amongst them many Germans who come here specially.
I can recommend it, but be warned! it gets crowded so better not bring your little kids, especially not when they still are in a pram.
Of course the terrases are open too so if you need to rest your tired feet you can sit down and have a drink.
On the photograph the window of my favourite baker: baker Bart, right in city center, close to Grote Markt (great market square).
Bloemenmarkt means Flower Market.
May 11th --> start of the Giro in Groningen.
Great atmosphere and lots of people watching.
First, soldiers glided down the Martini tower carrying flags of the organising parties and the flags of the countries represented by the cyclists.
Lots of Italian carabinieri (police) and press.
The color of the Giro is pink, so most people wore something pink.
Eventho there was little sun, the temp was not too bad.
On August 28th the streets are even more lively than usual and around almost every corner there s something going on or something worth to have a look at.
I spotted these 3 guys wearing jacket, most likely they had to organise part of the festivities.
The Noorderzon is a cultural festival that takes place each August for ten days in Groningen, in the North of Holland.
The heart of the festival is in a beautiful small city park, called the Noorderplantsoen, about 5 minutes from the city centre by foot.
Got curious and wanna read more? Go here!
Each year at August 28th the citizens of Groningen celebrate 'Groningens Ontzet' (Liberation of Groningen). It is as a reminder of the liberation in 1672 by Carl Rabenhaupt from the surpression under Bernard van Galen, bisshop of Munster.On the photograph the famous painting by Otto Eerelman who painted it in 1920. On it you see the 'paardenkeuring' (horse-show).After all the festivities as dragon boat races, rope pulling, lots of live music, special children programs.At night, after dark, traditionally a great show of fireworks.Go to the site of the festivities 'Feest in Stad' (party in town) . Only available in Dutch though.
Never make fun of the horse in front of the station! This is the 'peerd van ome Loeks' and the stadjers (as Groningen's inhabitants are called) are very proud of it.
It is named after a jockey, Lucas (Loeks), whose horse died in 1910. The word 'peerd' is local dialect for horse.