Sunday, 5 February 2017

Three years and counting

On Wednesday I celebrated three years of living in the wonderful city of Groningen! It was somewhat of a shock to realise that three years had passed so quickly, seemingly without me noticing. The day-to-day routine moves on with only slight alterations due to holidays and travel, and suddenly it's three years later. I suppose living in a great city, doing a job I love, and travelling helps time move along.

It was fun to think back on when I first moved into the attic room, up those "stairs of death" and got myself situated into a new country and new place. It was nice to think about how much has changed and how much I've grown - not only personally, but in my career, too. I'm currently at a crossroads when many things are changing (in good ways), and that always tends to leave me rather reflective. It's an exciting time, if not a bit busy, and I'm glad to be here in this lovely city with spring just around the corner.

So, after three years, what do I have to offer about Groningen? Here are some of my recommendations (and favourite places):

The Noorderplantsoen is the place to be to enjoy a slice of nature in the city. There is also a little cafe in the middle where you can watch the world go by. I  try go to the park nearly as much as I go to work to create a nice balance!

Autumn in the park
Frozen pond in the park

The Vismarkt is certainly worth a visit on market, you can eat your way around it as well as buy flowers or vegetables! It is a different way of shopping for your weekly groceries. I don't get here nearly enough! The stalls are always exciting, and the people who look after them are very friendly.

Bulbs at the market

The Martinikerk and toren are both beautiful and iconic. They are nice to visit (or walk past) and if you go to the top of the tower on a clear day you can see quite far (being in a flat country and all...). I can see this tower from home, which is really lovely and makes me feel I truly am living in the city.
Inside the church
Martini Tower

Lastly, I would recommend trying to eat at cafes and trendy places (the city is overflowing with them). It is hard to give specific recommendations because I don't have a favourite and they all provide something new to try. The Dutch cuisine can be peculiar at times (especially the raw herring...) but Groningen has its array of gezellig (cosy) cafes and bars. If you like cake (which I do!) Toet is an excellent place to go for homemade baked goods and gluten free options.

I've moved around a lot and seen plenty of places in this world, but I think Groningen holds a special place in my heart. There is a vibe here that is relaxed and pleasant, yet it is enough of a city that you can go out at 1 a.m. to find something to eat. Groningen is often forgotten after the likes of Amsterdam and Utrecht or even Leiden as a student city, but I think it has a lot to offer. Life is good here in the north of the Netherlands!

A frosty Academy building in the heart of Groningen