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Groningen from the Canal(s)

Like most Dutch cities/towns Groningen is built round canals. (Or they were built round it.)

This is an unusually wide expanse of water where at least two of them meet:-

I include the one below mainly for the flag on the prow of the boat in the picture. It’s quartered in red and blue, the quarters centred on a white cross with what at first I thought was a blue cross within. (I’d seen it at a distance flying on a house just outside Opende.) I worked out it was the flag of Groningen Province after seeing a different flag, blue with white diagonal stripes containing red hearts, which was obviously that of Friesland. On seeing Groningen’s flag closely the central cross is green.

There are lots of lovely buildings on the canal:-

The Martini Tower used to be the tallest bulding in Groningen. It still is for the town centre but a taller one now lies on the outskirts. It was very difficult to snap the tower from the boat. Street furniture kept getting in the way.

Or splashes on the boat’s windows!!

Another wide expanse of canal allowed this of the tower in the distance:-

This is the tower from the town centre:-

It has a sundial about halfway up:-

Another striking building:-

We were told this is the smallest house in Groningen. It’s the one in the right-hand part of the white building (and the right half of that):-

Interesting corner building here. Not to mention the statue of the kneeling figure:-

Many of the bridges over the canals in Groningen have to open up to allow the boats underneath. This is one of them:-

Art Deco in Groningen (ii)

Just across the road and up a bit from the stunning possible cinema in Groningen is Pension Tivoli.

There’s a good curved canopy on this at the door but I got my angle wrong for showing it properly. The pillars at the door have a fine style as well. You can just see the top of the canopy and pillars at the door in the crop below. Fine windows here too.

This next shop was only a few doors along. Lovely curved wall and window. Good leading on the other windows:-

A couple more doors along. Note stained glass:-

Back in towards the town centre again was this, which has good trianguloid windows.

These can be seen to better advantage here:-

Good detailing on the brickwork:-

Hunkemoller is minor deco. Nice round metal frame bits in the windows though:-

Huis de Beurs is on the corner of the Vis Markt. Great colour. It was almost impossible to take a photo without a cyclist in the way. Spot the detailing on the roof line.

One shop had beautiful tiling on its entrance:

Art Deco in Groningen (i)

Groningen was a happy hunting ground for Art Deco. On the way in to the town centre past the Museum I saw the side of a building that looked a bit deco (vertical features) but made of what I thought was modern brick so passed on.

Just further along though I came on this very Egyptianate (and so true deco) shop. Le Souk:-

Not too far on was this:-

Just off the Vis Markt (fish market – absolutely heaving the day we were there) was Sumo:-

This was later, from across the market after we had circled round Groningen:-

Some time later we got back to the lane we had come up from the Museum and I realised that the earlier brick building I mentioned above was Deco. Might it be a cinema? Brilliant verticals and horizontals, flagpole, little square windows, detailing picked out in red and yellow. Delightful.

I had hoped the photo would show the vertical brickwork in the lane but sadly it hasn’t. What had alerted me to it was this stunning window on the main road:-

Groningen Railway Station

Groningen Railway Station is an architectural confection, superficially a bit like St Pancras. A Cathedral to steam.

This is its exterior from the ring road:-

It’s the interior that’s the gem though.

Apparently until quite recently all this lovely brickwork and decoration was covered up by plasterboard or something. When that was stripped off they discovered what they’d been missing. (There’s a couple of pigeons up there somewhere in these two photos.)

This is the cupola in the roof of the entrance hall:-

This is the vaulted roof in a side corridor!

And here is the stained glass in the windows round the entrance hall:-

More stained glass:-

Groningen Museum (Groninger Museum)

First a word on pronunciation. You might think Groningen is enunciated as Grown-ing-en. It isn’t.

Since the letter g in Dutch (certainly at the start and end of a word) is pronounced more like the Scottish “ch” sound – as in loch – and the final n is not emphasised, the name actually sounds more like HHrrrown-ing-ih. (I assume Groninger – HHrrown-ing-er – is an adjectival form meaning “of Groningen.”)

Anyway the museum is one of those modern architecture buildings that seems to have bits sticking out everywhere. I liked it. It reminded me a bit of the Imperial War Museum North.

It’s prominent from the ring road.

We didn’t have enough time to go in as we were going on a boat trip round the canals that encircle the town centre. You can’t go to The Netherlands and not go on a canal. This is the museum from the boat jetty.

And this is from the canal as the boat comes back to its starting point. That colour scheme could make your eyes go funny.

My Second Jay

While in Surhuisterveen we spotted a house with a viking ship for a weathervane. The house itself has a distinctive style. I like the railings on the balcony.

While manoeuvering to get a better shot of the weathervane than we had originally we saw a jay on the roof. My second jay! It’s perched on the thatch just above the window.

It moved to the edge of the roof and I got this shot.

Here’s a close-up of the weathervane.

What a great thing to have on your roof.

Dutch War Memorials

I didn’t expect to see War Memorials in out of the way places in The Netherlands. The country didn’t take part in the Great War but was of course invaded by Germany in 1940. The Dutch were unable to combat the Luftwaffe bombers – the centre of Rotterdam was destroyed – and surrendered to avoid destruction of their other cities. The fighting lasted seven days.

But then there were also the almost constant Allied bombing raids over Germany in the latter part of the war (the run-up to D-Day excepted) which flew over The Netherlands en route and on return.

It seems two such aeroplanes were shot down over or near Opende.

This view shows both memorials:-

The distinctive headstones of Commonwealth war graves can be seen. I assume these were erected after the war.

The inscription on the brick wall reads :-

In Memory of the seven heroes whose plane crashed in Opende, 15 Feb 1944.
The Residents of Opende

This is the other end of the memorial:

The aircraft was a Halifax bomber with seven crew, six of whom were Australian. It was shot down. The details are here.

Links to more information about the crew can be found on this webpage.

The other plaque on the site is for a US B 17, “Sky Queen” which came down on 28 Jul 1943.

More information about this crew is here.

In the nearby town (I would call it a town but by the Dutch definition it’s a village) of Surhuisterveen there is a War Memorial plaque on the other side of the clock tower from this view.

The inscription reads:-

In memory. To our local fallen in the war 1940-45.

Three Dutch Football Grounds

On our first day in the Netherlands we went for a walk with my brother-in-law, his wife and their dog.

We stopped at a car park in Bakkeveen and I noticed this insignia on the building at the end of the road.

KNVB logo

It is of course the logo of the Netherlands Football Association.

The sign said KNVB Voetbaldegen Bakkeveeen 2010. I couldn’t see inside the ground because the trees/shrubs around it were in full leaf. See here for a Google Maps view with barer trees.

The club seems to play in the Derde Klaas League; Subdivision Sunday North. (Judging by the results listed on this website they don’t appear to be very good.)

Apparently there are two local leagues in the Netherlands, a Saturday one and a Sunday one – and they don’t talk to each other.

On the way up Holland from the ferry we had passed a stylish looking stadium. The good lady snapped it from the car window on the way back down. This is Den Haag’s home ground, the Kyocera Stadion.

On the way to Maarssen I had seen Heerenveen’s floodlights from the motorway. Their ground looked modern and stylish from that distance.

On the Saturday we strolled to the nearest village to where we were staying, Opende, and I spotted this football game going on at the premises of MFC De Veste, the sports club there.

That’s a tidy wee ground.

Maarssen, The Netherlands

Just to show I’ve been in the Netherlands this is a canal:-

The canal runs through the town of Maarssen, which is near Utrecht. The photo was taken from a traffic light bordered bridge over it which every so often opens up (along with warning noises and the necessary red lights) to let boats through.

We had gone to see the good lady’s nephew who lives in Maarssen. This nearby house was built in the 30s. Pity the main windows have been replaced:-

It has lovely stained glass in the gable windows, though.

Some of the modern houses in the street where said nephew lives have been built to mirror the deco styling of the 30s ones. Nice curve here.

Flat roofs, protrusions, porticos, porthole windows.

Good “reflection” here.

The theme is reproduced with variations.

Our nephew’s house is less deco, though.

The Netherlands

The ferry left Harwich late firstly due to “a cruise ship in the next berth” and then to the fact that they couldn’t get the engines to start. (Cue cries of, “They cannae take it, Captain.”) It was an electronic problem apparently. As a result we were an hour late arriving at Hoek van Holland.

Almost the first thing that happened after we got off the boat was we got lost. Our intructions said to take the second exit from a roundabout. It should have been the first. After a slight detour we got onto a road on the top of a dyke, which was pretty intimidating as there didn’t seem much room if there was any sort of traffic problem or accident. I missed another turning, found myself in the wrong lane and had to enter the A 20 motorway to Rotterdam. I was able to get off and pull into a petrol station where I consulted the map I had bought and worked out a way back onto the route I needed. Dutch motorways are brilliant, very well sign-posted.

Unfortunately the delays meant we hit Amsterdam at rush hour. Four north bound lanes more or less jam-packed. Fun. I wasn’t quite sure of which junction to come off the Amsterdam ring motorway but I spotted a sign for Leeuwarden and Heerenveen and took it. This route meant we drove over what used to be part of the Zuider Zee – on the Afsluitdijk, with the IJsselmeer on our right and the Wadden Sea hidden behind the dyke to our left. This was a weird experience but the dyke is a fantastic piece of civil engineering. At each end it has a set of huge sluice gates to allow the IJsselmeer to drain into the Wadden Sea. Presumably this only happens at low tide.

North of Amsterdam the traffic became very much lighter. Most of the way was motorway and the journey passed very quickly.

At certain junctions the motorway regulations stop a few hundred metres before the roads meet. This happened just west of Heerenveen where there is effectively a roundabout between the A 6 and A 7 motorways. (In Groningen two motorways meet at a set of traffic lights.)

I was struck by the number of smallish industrial units near the motorways and at the edges of towns – way more than in the UK. Old Dutch buildings tend to be traditional with pitched roofs. The industrial buildings all looked modern and were either rectangular boxes, some up to seven or eight stories, or else replete with curves.

The towns seemed tidy and prosperous looking. That may be due to the brickwork pavements and cycleways. I can’t say I noticed any litter.

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