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view of Groningen train station, with the Starbucks in the left wing

The most beautiful Starbucks?

You know how sometimes you get so used to what you see every day that you stop noticing it? I’ve walked by the Starbucks in the Groningen central train station hundreds of times in the course of commuting to and from my job up in Leeuwarden. I just didn’t pay much attention to it until…

view of Hooge der A with ships

Groningen walking tour

Groningen is the perfect place for an off-the-beaten-track weekend escape. Home to a world-class university, its young population makes it dynamic and hip, yet its small size keeps it friendly and relaxed. This walking tour could last from two hours, if you just stroll, to all day, if you take your time and stop to see…

detail from Rembrandt's studio

Museum Het Rembrandthuis and Rembrandt’s life

This entry is part 6 of 22 in the series Amsterdam Museums

You could easily be forgiven if, at first, you just walk by the Museum Het Rembrandthuis. You might notice that it’s pretty, but so are so many houses in Amsterdam. On a less-charming street than the other small museums I’ve visited lately in Amsterdam, Rembrandt lived here and taught a handful of pupils until bankruptcy forced him…

Van Loon Museum: a restored Golden Age house

This entry is part 5 of 22 in the series Amsterdam Museums

After the Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder museum and The Museum of the Canals, our last stop was the van Loon Museum, a restored Golden Age canal house. This is what I’d been expecting when we visited the Museum of the Canals: rooms that give an impression of how wealthy residents of Amsterdam’s Golden Age lived…

two row houses of brown brick, with lots of windows and step gables.

Museum of the Canals Amsterdam: a review

This entry is part 4 of 22 in the series Amsterdam Museums

I already posted about the first of the three little museums I visited recently in Amsterdam with a friend: Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder. After a bite for lunch—Burgermeester has surprisingly good burgers!—we moved on to the Museum of the Canals Amsterdam (In Dutch it’s called Het Grachtenhuis and is often translated as the Canal House…

Ons Lieve Heer op Solder: a surprising little museum

This entry is part 3 of 22 in the series Amsterdam Museums

Tourists in Amsterdam, if they visit museums at all, generally hit the big ones: the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh, for example. But there are dozens of smaller museums in Amsterdam that are just as interesting and worth seeing. Ons Lieve Heer op Solder is one of them. Ons Lieve Heer op Solder history This…

The Milkmaid, by Vermeer

Yes, you CAN visit the Rijksmuseum in 2 hours!

This entry is part 18 of 22 in the series Amsterdam Museums

I’m not a museum person. That’s not to say I’m not interested in art, or natural history, or science, or whatever the museum is about. It’s just that I don’t have the patience to concentrate on one thing for very long. At the same time, I’m not physically up to it; for some reason standing…

children at the door with their lanterns

St. Maartens Day: A sweet local tradition

Today is St Maartens Day here in Groningen, a children’s tradition that is relatively unique to this area. On the 11th of November, once the sun goes down, children go door-to-door begging for sweets. Instead of threatening “trick or treat” like on Halloween, the deal here is that they sing a song, and in return,…

10 Things the Dutch Think about Americans

You’re not like most Americans.” A student of mine, a trainee English teacher, said this to me.  I laughed, and the conversation moved on to other topics, but I’ve been thinking about what he meant by this. What the Dutch think about Americans – and I dare say this applies to other Europeans too – is…

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