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 this week.
I am not a big fan of Starbucks because:
- I don’t drink coffee.
- The prices! Even for tea. Why charge more for a bigger cup of hot water when you just use one tea bag no matter the size of the cup? Don’t tell me it’s because of the cost of boiling the water. There’s no way that the extra water in the big cup costs 50 cents to boil!
- Pretentiousness: Tall, grande or venti? Seriously? What’s wrong with small, medium and large?
On the other hand, they have really good snack food that is different from what’s usually available here. I’m especially tempted by the American baked goods: donuts, for example. I should really add the snack food to the list above because I really, really shouldn’t be eating donuts!
And, also on the other hand, they have wifi. I’ve been known to go into Starbucks just to use the wifi, then leave without buying anything.
So while I’ve been in Starbucks quite a few times in quite a few cities around the world, I’m no aficionado.
The Starbucks in Groningen train station
This week, though, I’ve been to Starbucks twice. We have two here in Groningen: the only two in the whole of the three northern provinces.
This one is right in the Groningen central train station, and I needed to meet with people from out of town who were coming in by train, so it was the easiest place to meet.
I don’t know if anyone out there rates the Starbucks branches, but this one has to be one of the most beautiful in the world.
Groningen’s Central Station was completely restored to its original 1896 interior about 20 years ago, and the Starbucks moved into the former first class waiting room in 2011.
Talk about atmosphere! This place has it in spades. Like many Starbucks branches, you can choose from small, two-person tables, a long communal table, or assorted sofas and armchairs. But this place retains the Victorian-era style. Light enters from two sides: through the big outside windows as well as through the arched, leaded glass windows on the inside, facing the platforms. In a place that’s overcast so much of the time, we need as much light as we can get, and it brings out the lovely period detail.
On both visits I ordered one cup of tea and never felt hurried to leave or order more. That’s standard in the Netherlands; a cup of coffee is considered enough to monopolize a café table for hours. It was such a pleasant place that I was reluctant to leave, especially when I was meeting with my new friend and fellow blogger, Candi, and we managed to snag a comfy leather sofa by the old fireplace. The only problem was that what I really wanted to do was take my shoes off and tuck my legs under me, but I suspected that might be frowned upon in a public place. I think it may be worth the outrageous prices just for the privilege of feeling like a first-class passenger.
And I’m proud to say I managed to resist the donuts on both visits!
Do you go to Starbucks? Or do you avoid it? Is there one you’d nominate for most beautiful?