Rainy winter wonderland
In most European cities, wintertime means snow covered streets, an ever-lasting Christmas feeling lingering until January, decorative ornaments hanging from lamp posts and even people skiing in outdoor rinks. Chances are if you aren’t Dutch, then this description could have taken you back home.
Why do I specify this and why did I say ‘most European cities’? Let’s just say that winter in The Netherlands is a little different- if it snows, then you wouldn’t actually expect the city to stay covered for more than a day and a half. Why is that so? If you are thinking “rain” … bingo! Since I study here in Groningen, I can only describe this city’s winter ambiance and the mood which prevails around. Be it hailing, snowing, pouring rain or heavily windy, bicycles never stop circulating and the people riding them seem to manage the weather circumstances just about fine. Now, regarding decorations in the city, a lot of enthusiasm and effort is put into making the city look charming and winter tale ready. Have you ever wondered why the city starts getting prepared and lit up at least a month in advance? This is all part of getting the city’s inhabitants and visitors into the right mood. The more lights, the merrier the people.
Amsterdam for instance, has a well-known reputation for its decorative canals, bridges shining from afar and Christmas markets happening throughout December but, truth is, Groningen isn’t far from this so-admired touristic city since it also counts with beautiful decorative lights and a breathtaking antique train station which transports you to ancient winter times.
It came to my attention that unless you speak Dutch or have any Dutch friends with whom you actually hang out with, many winter related activities go by unseen or unheard of because they are advertised and promoted in Dutch. A solution for this (and to keep in mind for next year’s winter time activities and must-sees) is to walk the city! Whenever you see something which you would really like to learn more about, or attend but you aren’t quite sure of the event’s name nor its dates, approach someone- there is always someone more than willing to answer your questions. If you aren’t one to follow agendas and events, then how about making your own list of activities, places and things to do during winter? This would not only help you visualize everything this city offers, but also recommend it to others and personalize it with the passing of time.
Hopefully, you had a great winter time here in Groningen and if you are reading this from home, I recommend you come back with pretty thick coats and water proof boots. Ahh the beautiful Dutch weather- who didn’t miss it?