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somewhere on my commute between Groningen and Leeuwarden after a dusting of snow

The Beauty of a Dutch Commute

A couple of times a week, I commute to my part-time job in Leeuwarden, in Friesland province. Sometimes I drive, but as much as possible, I like to take the train. I start by bicycling to the train station in the center of Groningen, parking the bike and boarding the train. The train trip takes about 35…

The Martinitoren rises above the clutter of market stalls on the Grote Markt in Groningen.

The Martinitoren: a Groningen Landmark

About a year ago I wrote a post about Groningen, the small city where I live. I mapped out a route that started at the train station and wound its way through the city, ending at the landmark Martinitoren. The Martinitoren Today, for the first time in several years, I climbed the Martinitoren, and it…

Fraeylemaborg as seen from the garden behind, in Slochteren, the Netherlands

Fraeylemaborg: the “ancestral home”

Whenever I refer jokingly to Fraeylemaborg, a small castle in Slochteren, as “the ancestral home,” my husband rolls his eyes, but he’s given up on correcting me. You see, one branch of his family occupied Fraeylemaborg for several generations. Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for everyone else, the house (I think the British would call…

Winterwelvaart, with the boats all lit up at night.

WinterWelVaart: Groningen’s Christmas Market

The Christmas markets in Germany are famous for their craft stalls, gluwein and generally Christmassy atmosphere. I’ve gone to several in past years; the one in Oldenburg is only about an hour away from my home here in Groningen. Though they’re much less well-known, Dutch cities, including Groningen, also run Christmas markets. WinterWelVaart Groningen’s is…

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…

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,…

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