11 Juni 2014

Groningen, the Netherlands: Happy Tummy and City

One of many benefits staying in Europe is, the close distance among the countries. I took the advantage of living in Bremen by going to Groningen, the Netherlands. It is only 3 hours by bus, and you can always get promo ticket on the internet.

I met my friends there: Ivan, my Indonesian high school friend, and Mbak Vega, Ivan's friend in Universitat Hannover (yes, I also visited Hannover, so wait for another blogpost!). Thanks to both of them, I didn't get lost in this town.

Groningen in the tourist information.

So, what is in Groningen? Just like other cities in the Netherlands, there is a lot of bicycles. Literally...

Where should I park my bicycle? Oh , just squeeze it in.
When I came on Saturday, the Vismarkt (meaning Fish Market) was full of people, not only selling fish, but also bread, fresh vegetables, meat, even ice cream and fries! I tried kibbeling, a battered fried fish which was really good. I also tried fries with joppiesaus, and the sauce was amazing, according to Wikipedia, it's a mix of vegetable oil, curry powder, and onion.

Pomme frites and joppiesaus!
You should totally go to Vismarkt and try some foodies when you are in Groningen. Heaven.

What else is in Groningen? I don'k know if it applies to other Dutch towns, but Groningen has some Indonesian grocery stores where I got some more foods, and also Indonesian restaurants.

One of Indonesian grocery stores, "Toko Melati", which literally means "Jasmine Store".
Well, I made klepon during winter break in the beginning of the year, but it was not as good as this one. Klepon for life!
TokoSemarang, an Indonesian restaurant with authentic Indonesian foods (and interior!).
I got Es Cendol in Toko Semarang. It's a drink that has green colored rice flour jelly, with palm sugar, coconut milk, and shaved ice. The temperature reached 30 degrees Celcius when I was there, so it was perfect!
Just like other towns in Europe, Groningen also has beautiful view: from canals, to old buildings. It is even more amazing, because the University of Groningen celebrates its 400 years (yes, it's longer than the Dutch colonizing Indonesia), and you can see some students wearing shirts saying "For Infinity 400".

The main building of University of Groningen. Yes, more bicycles, and the red poster.
Other beautiful part of the town. Everyone was outside enjoying the sun.
The canal. My friend told me that it is more beautiful when the canal is full of ships and boats.
We also went to a garden, Martinikerkhof. Basically, there is a central garden that is surrounded by vines that form a tunnel. A really beautiful garden!

The green tunnel.
The central garden. Sorry that it does not look that beautiful, I'm not a good photographer :(
The sun watch. The sentences are in Latin, I suppose. Guess what time I took this photo!
Ivan and I also went to Groninger Museum, a fine art museum that has collections from artists in Groningen or around the world. There were good pieces (I am sorry that I don't really understand art), but I personally still prefer Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; not only bigger, but also more varieties (and free with MIT ID Card!).

One of the art installation in this museum. I was amazed by human-tall chess pieces. The details were amazing. Unfortunately, I forgot the name of artist who made this, I'm sorry.
In one part of the museum. My favorite art piece: selfeet (instead of selfie). Yes, it was a glass, so you can see the canal below you directly. So scary, right?
Overall, Groningen is a great city. Small, warm, and more importantly: most people can speak English! So, you can comfortably order your food, or pay your merchandise/ postcard in English, which I barely find in Germany. The people also seem to be happier than the Germans (no offense, Germans, hehe), and taller. Again, as a good tour guide, Ivan told me that the Dutch are the tallest people on earth in average, compared to other countries.

I really want to go to other cities in the Netherlands, perhaps Amsterdam (since one of my UWC roommates come from there, but she's studying abroad now). I've still got a year to explore more places in Europe, so I don't need to rush.

A side story: there was no customs check when I crossed border to go to the Netherlands, but there was one when I went back to Germany. They took a long time to check my passport (as usual), but I'm glad that they didn't hold me or ask me to get off the bus. I wasn't smuggling marijuana or did anything bad, but, it still makes me nervous whenever officers check my passport, especially because I heard the discrimination towards Indonesian Muslims when they cross border in other countries... Well, I have no bad intention; I am just doing my internship (and a little bit of travelling), so I shouldn't worry about that, right?

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