We just had two days in Groningen, capital of Groningen Province in the far north-east of the Netherlands, where Fred comes from. This is wehere he lived as a student when we first met all those years ago and where he lived for the first six eyars of our relationship, before coming down to live with me in Amsterdam on 1st July 1990, already sixteen years ago.
We used to go back to Groningen quite often to see friends we had there but over the years the numbers of trips went down, as some people moved away, as we lost contact with some and so on. So, we decided that our trip during herfst vacantie would be to Groningen, more to take in the flavour of the city, visit museums than specifically to visit friends. And so it was that we arrived early Wednesday afternoon, after I had made a trip to the AMC to have my innoculations, in readiness for my imminent trip to the Far East.
Groningen has been constantly changing all the time I have known it and, sure enough, as we left the station, we found that the square had disappeared, whereupon they were building a so-called city-balcony, with views out across the canal to the impressive and playful Groninger Museum. The fanous statue of 'Het Peert van Ome Loeks' (a white horse) had disappeared again, although we were told he would be reinstated at the end of the project.
We checked into the Martini Hotel, formerly the WEEVA ( wonen en eten voor allen = housing and food for all) and quickly went out onto the streets to see what Groningen had to offer. A nostalgic walk past old haunts - shops and bars and clubs, some of which had survived the past 20 years, some of which had disappeared and a few which had been rennovated. My most vived memoroies of Groningen would have been from a busy Saturday afternoon and in comparison the city looked to be quite empty, despite the very pleasant weather - although as time went on it did become quite cold.