Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A day out in Groningen, Holland

Standing outside the Groningen railway station - a marvelous piece of architecture

I am taking a break from my photo travelogue of Paris and go back to Groningen, Holland (forgive me calling the Netherlands as Holland for some reasons I love this word since my childhood) from where the first leg of my travel to Schengen countries started. In one of my previous posts, I mentioned why I chose Groningen, a small town of Holland - just to remind my readers I had gone to Groningen with a purpose - to meet a friend after 43 years and I shared my memories in my earlier post.

Seen above standing with my friend, whom I met after 43 years, outside his house. On the second day of my stay in Groningen, he took us to show Groningen. Groningen is the main municipality as well as the capital city of the eponymous province in the Netherlands. With a population of 197,823, it is the largest city in the north of the Netherlands.

Some interesting facts about Groningen are as under:
  • First major settlement in Groningen has been traced back to the third century AD
  • Groningen is located very close to the German border. It's only two hours away from Bremen, and three hours from Hamburg - and four and a half hours from Kiel - from where we started off our journey. My younger son Wahaab is studying in the Kiel University of Applied Sciences.
  • It has the largest natural gas-field in Western Europe
  • Groningen has the world's largest sugar factory
  • Every fifth person in Groningen is a student, which gives Groningen the highest student population density in the Netherlands
  • Groningen is the youngest city of the Netherlands: most people are between 20-24 years old
  • It has a vibrant and famous nightlife, dominated by students. Bars in the centre are allowed to stay open 24 hours a day

Groningen belongs to the top five of best bike cities (57% of all transportation within the city is by bike). And this was amply highlighted by vast bike-exclusive parking places around the city. I was also told by my friend Tariq Hashmi that  while driving one has to be very careful to give way to the bikers as any discourtesy in this regards is taken as an offense.

In fact the centre of Groningen is partly closed off for cars, so it is a very safe and comfortable environment for pedestrians and bikers
  A monument outside the Groningen railway station

Groningen railway station (as seen from outside above) is a beautiful 19th century building of marvelous architectural design. The building both from outside and inside is awesome and amazing. See some of the photos of its interior in photos below:

After visiting the railway station, where I was to come back to board the train to Amsterdam, we went to the city centre which was close by. For people who love tourism and travelling, may I tell them one thing: The beauty of each European city is that the city centre is always close by the main railway station and one can easily move about and see the best of the city at one place.

 My wife with the wife of my friend in the city centre
 A Russian singer played guitar and drums for money, and had someone listening to him attentively (below)

Some more photos of the Groningen city:

The Martinitoren or Martini or St. Martin's Tower is the highest church steeple in the city 

 Lef to right: My youngest son Wahaab, Tariq Hashmi, myself, and Tariq's eldest son
  My sons with Mayor's office building (built in 1810) in the background (above/below)

It took us quite a while roaming around and it was much beyond lunch time. So my friend Hashmi took us to a fish stand ( as seen above while me and my son waited and posed for the photo) and ordered for fried fish and told us that we would have had never eaten such a crispy and tasty fish in our lives. Being from Lahore, Pakistan where fish is one of the major delicacy in winters,
I just rubbished off my friend's claim - who also happened to be from Lahore. But he said wait till we got to eat what he had boasted of. And when the fish as served (as seen above), I forgot all the fish I had eaten before that day. It was so tasty, aromatic and fresh that he had to order for a large refill thereafter. I was told that this vendor came only twice a week and we were lucky that that day he was there.
Filled with the fish, we moved about the market place and did lot of window shopping. However, I also got lucky to buy three pairs of joggers and a jeans.  

 'Men' wait while ladies shop 
Back home in the late afternoon, we posed for photos to recall the nostalgia of Groningen later in our lives.

I shall continue to share my travel memories of the Schengen countries in my posts to follow. Stay with me....

All photos are mine and are accordingly copy righted.

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