Groggy as I was on Saturday morning, my tired little heart swelled with joy (swelled!) as I strolled through the Noorderplantsoen (pronounced Nor-dur-plont-soon) – a huge, enchanting park in the middle of the city where you can easily spend entire summer days on a blanket with some friends, a picnic and a good book, surrounded by like-minded students and many many ducks. Like I said: enchanting. For the more athletically minded, bike paths wind their way across the park and areas are reserved for playing ‘sports’.
One of my favourite things about Groningen? You can see (and hear) the Martini Tower from almost every corner of the city. The Martini Tower – named after Saint Martin, not the drink! – is an old church tower right in the centre of the city that’s famously been struck by lightening and burned to the ground on more than one occasion. For three euros you can climb its narrow, winding steps to the very top, with only the stone walls around you to keep you from tumbling over and nowhere to go when faced with tourists going in the opposite direction. It’s all very romantic – the sort of thing that certainly would not be allowed in North America!
Alas, there was no time for a climb on this particular day, but I pulled up some old pictures I took of the view from the top.
Next time, Martini!
I was going to meet the girls at Mr. Mofongo’s, a very popular café right across from the UB (university library). I couldn’t help it, I had to snap a picture of this fine establishment. The UB and I go way back – on my exchange, three years ago now, I innocently walked through its front doors for the first time in a sweatshirt and rain boots, and on this day learned a very important lesson.
As usual, Mr. Mofongo’s was absolutely packed! I ordered an old Dutch favourite – ‘verse munt thee’, or fresh mint tea, which is exactly how it sounds: hot water infused with fresh mint leaves, and sweetened with honey.
We talked, we laughed, and we definitely did not order this spectacular plate of nachos …
I’m lying … we did. And they were perfection. Hot, cheesy, covered in crème fraîche, and even served with fresh vegetables to give the illusion of eating something healthy. Needless to say we devoured these, and shamelessly wiped the bowl clean with our fingers. An absolute success of a lunch/coffee break – not to mention that Mr. Mofongo’s serves every drink with a complimentary bite of brownie, which I’m (not) ashamed to say I ate before I could remember to take a picture of it.
After we’d refuelled, we headed to the shopping streets for some browsing and drooling, and then, far too soon, it was time for me to hop back onto the train. All in all, while it was rather short, it was the perfect weekend getaway!