Day 17: Groningen Museum & Shawarmas

Ended up going out much later today.  Left around 3PM today.  We all headed out to Groningen Museum.  Future Chair It’s a museum of modern art and as per usual with modern art museums, it had some really weird stuff.  Walked around like usual. Snapped some photos and then at the end of museum, there’s this AWESOME info centre.  It’s like a futuristic office room.  Here are some photos of the room.

The guy working in the info centre was really nice too.  And he spoke English perfectly.  I haven’t really found anyone in Groningen who could speak English properly.  I told him about my trip to Amsterdam and he gave me some tips to where to find some museums in Amsterdam.  I’ll probably visit the museum with the Van Gogh collection.

Kapsalon After the museum I took my family out for food.  We ended up eating at this place that sold another famous dish of Dutch culture.  I got this thing called a Kapsalon.  It’s not a hair salon, but a dish with salad, cheese, fries, and shawarma meat.  It was really good! It’s more or less their version of a poutine; or at least according to wiki it is.  This is definitely one of the better dishes I’ve had here.

Once we finished eating, we headed back home.  Before heading home though, I grabbed my train ticket from the train station to Amsterdam.  Honestly, if you’re travelling on the ICE or IC lines, getting tickets straight from the train station isn’t any different them buying online.

Now that I’m home, I’ll start working on the photos and finish uploading the rest of them.

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Day 16: Gay Day & IKEA Foods

Saturday. Today is everyone’s day off.  Woke up to the noise of screaming children and slamming doors.  Ended up waking up super late again but had breakfast with the family and showered before 11.  Gay Day Concert We headed out again today to the city centre.  My folks had no idea what festival was going on today.  I sort of had a clue from all the colourful flags but I couldn’t be sure because I couldn’t read the signs.  But of course! It was the GAY PRIDE PARADE today.   Full of music you’d normally associate with gay pride, and enough transgenders to fill an entire building.  It’s nothing compared to Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade, but its definitely not a bad day to come out.  Lots of free food, and even some places were handing out free beer!

Groningen Clock Tower I ended up going up this clock tower with my uncle and my cousin Dennis.  Man, I didn’t realize how much vertigo I would feel going up to such a tower.  Really it was those steps up to the tower.  It was in that spiral shape, but it was so steep, and there’s no handles, just a rope in the middle.  It was however, worth it.  Went to the top and took some shots of the city.  Take a look at the photos below to get an idea what the city of Groningen looks like!

After coming down, I needed to eat something.  Ended up having these snackings called Tzatziki Burgers.  They’re really tiny.  About the size of Junior Cheese Burger at McDonalds.  Also grabbed some famous fries and a sausage.  So good.  Earlier we dropped the two youngest cousins, Rick and Kevin at Chinese school.  So once they finished we grabbed them and headed back home.  Before going home though, we stopped by IKEA and picked up some hot dogs and something to drink.  I ended up eating 2 IKEA dogs and got my favourite drink at IKEA, LINGONBERRY JUICE!  The hot dogs weren’t much different but they do have 2 extra ingredients we don’t get in Toronto; fried onion bits and pickles.

My aunt made BBQ tonight. Smells really good.  So, hanging out with my little cousins while we wait for food.  Like I said before Google Translate has been such a life saver! It sounds really awkward and IT IS! But, so grateful for it.  Speaking with the youngest one, Rick, is pretty funny too.  I’ll talk to him Chinese but he always responds in Dutch.  Even though he knows I don’t understand he keeps on yapping away.  It’s fun though, I’m picking up a little bit of Dutch along the way.  I think I can finally hear the difference between German and Dutch.  Before I couldn’t even hear it at all.  I have some basics down now too, like “Thank You”, “Excuse Me”, “Sorry”, “You’re Welcome”, “I”, “You”, “Nothing”, “Beer”.  Even though I’m not doing as much sight seeing here, it’s definitely an experience I definitely love!

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Day 15: IKEA Brunch & Trotting The Town

Ended up having a beautiful IKEA breakfast in Groningen! It’s a lot like the IKEA in Toronto but with a lot of differences.  The one here is much more decked out.  Like, they have PS3s everywhere for kids to play with.  The cafeteria has all the classics, like meatballs, but it has a few other selections that are a bit more Dutch.  You can see from the photos all the food I had.  I had to make up for missing my actual breakfast.  Actually, when I tried taking a photo of the food bar near the exit, the worker there started shaking his head at me.  According to my aunt apparently because I’m Asian I must be taking photos to copy their business; how racist.

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The As-Is section in IKEA Groningen is REALLY CHEAP! Like actually worth buying stuff from there! Like they had their glass doors they were getting rid of for only 5€! You’ll never find that in Toronto! I’d buy them but it’d cost way too much to ship them back.

After walking around IKEA for a while, went back home with aunt and uncle and waited for the kids to get off school.  When they got home we headed out for the town.  My uncle dropped us off downtown while he went to work.  We walked around for a bit and I took some photos, as usual, of buildings around the area.  The style of architecture is a lot like Paris, but on a smaller scale.  Didn’t stay for too long though since it was almost time for dinner.  We headed home by taking the bus.  Once we were home my aunt started cooking dinner.  Had my first Chinese meal in like weeks!  Never seen so much white rice on my plate.

I spent the rest of the night surfing on the internet and chatting with friends back at home until like 3 in the morning.  Anyway! Enjoy the photos!  The first real shots of this tiny town of Groningen.

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Day 14: To Groningen and Beyond

Now waiting at Hbf (too lazy to spell the whole name) train station in Cologne, while sipping on my Java Chip Frap. Today’s such a nice day out today, so I’m sitting on the patio. It’s sunny and there’s a nice breeze today so it isn’t hot at all. The first two days here I was sweating buckets and the AC in the hotel wasn’t exactly very strong.

Just got approached by a row of homeless people.  There’s 3 of them going to table-to-table asking for change; in German of course.  Just shook my head and they moved on to the next table.  I find that homeless people in Europe are a lot more active than the ones in Toronto.  But, they also look a lot more miserable.

Well! Goodbye Cologne!

… (Hours later in Groningen)

I took 2 connecting trains.  First one was in Arhem and then in another one in Zwolle before ending up in Groningen.  Called my aunt once I landed – whom I’ve never met in my life – and she told me to take the number 3 bus that would head near their street.  I hopped on and used my Google Maps to figure out which stopped to get off.  Google maps has little icons that says where’s the stops, and I just got off at the stop near my uncle’s street.

When I got off I was greeted by 4 little Dutch kids! I had no idea what they were saying but pretty sure it was something along the lines of welcome.  The smallest one wanted to help me with my luggage but I couldn’t let a 40 lbs boy carry and 40 lbs suitcase.  Luckily my uncle only lives on the 2nd floor of his apartment so it wasn’t all that hard to carry it up.  My uncle wasn’t home yet so my aunt helped me settle in and I hung out with my newly discovered cousins in the living room while I unpacked my stuff into my room.

First thing I did was get my internet working on my phone so I could use Google Translate! Thank you Google for making this trip to Groningen possible! When my uncle got home it was a little easier since he understands some English and Cantonese.  He helped me translate a lot of thing on the spot and I’ve already picked up a bit of Dutch now.  For dinner we had some vegetarian lasagna, since my uncle’s a vegetarian Buddhist.

After dinner my uncle took me around the area.  He has this garden in his area that he shares with his neighbours.  It’s pretty cool.  Each household gets a small plot of soil and can grow whatever they want.  We ended up picking some green peas and lingonberries.  Later we went to go pick up some of the Netherlands’ famous french fries.  They’re REALLY good here.  Especially with their mayonnaise and satay sauce.

Day 13: After Gaffel Packing Time

I didn’t really do much today.  It rained all day so I pretty stayed at the hotel.  I ended up eating at the StaV again and got the same curry sausage with fries.  It’s so good.  Gonna miss this dish.  I also ended up getting Cologne’s famous beer, Gaffel.  Comes in these small skinny glasses, the one I tweeted about was the 0.2 litre glass.  Much cheaper than water!

I spent most of the day editing the photos from yesterday and cleaning up my hotel room before I leave for Groningen, Holland to visit family.  Figured out how to walk from here to the train station so I should be okay tomorrow morning when I check out.  Hopefully it doesn’t rain.

Anyway, I’ll check in tomorrow after I settling in Groningen.  Hopefully I’ll have better internet there, then I can upload some video from Paris that I haven’t had a chance to.  I didn’t take too many pictures today, only went out for an hour-ish before it started raining but here they are.

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