Bored and Broke in Groningen? (Part 1)
There will be times when you’ve fully acclimatized yourself in the city, where you know your way around your neighbourhood and the city centre and know all the important places for student life and nightlife but you still happen across moments of boredom. It can be a day or a period of in-between days where you’re waiting for that specific event on that specific day, or you just don’t feel like staying at home but don’t feel like spending a lot of energy going out either. What can I do here that involves spending nothing but still provides me with an experience? Well hopefully, if you have a bike or other cheap transport, here are some of my favourite free things to do in Groningen (Part 1).
This initiative is by volunteer-based staff who creates costless vegan/vegetarian dinners every Wednesday and Sunday at two different locations, depending on the day:
Wednesday – BackBone050
They source their ingredients from leftovers from the Vismarkt, Supermarkets, Restaurants/cafés and volunteers. The great part about this initiative is that not only is it open to all sorts of customers and not only does it not cost you a penny, but it also constantly welcomes volunteers to help them. You can contribute either by sourcing leftover foods throughout the city, at the market, or by coming in early before the dinner to prepare the food as well as clean up afterwards. Find more information here: https://freecafe.nl/info/ and check out our blog about the Free Café.
Visit St. Jozef’s Cathedral
There is more than just the Martinitoren as the only Holy landmark in the city. Groningen is scattered with sacrilegious sites– synagogues, small churches, and yes, cathedrals. And the reverence and air of peace that enters deep within your body as you enter the edifice is for every person, no matter what religious philosophy (or none–looking at you, Atheists) you look to. As with most Catholic cathedrals, the interior of St. Jozef’s Cathedral is adorned with ornate decorations, colourful stained-glass windows depicting biblical scenes, and a running fresco along the western and easternmost walls that portray the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. What most strikes you about the Cathedral’s interior is how well preserved and clean it is. The scripture on the pillars and walls are not rubbed off but appear as if they were newly painted. The frescoes are full and clear with vibrant colour, with no scratches or dirty marks on the wooden panels of the confessional or entry doors. Even the pews seem like they were newly built. A beautiful atmosphere for a quick visit at any time of day, when you feel the need to release some tension and relax for a bit. You can find the cathedral down the street from the Police station, on Radesingel.
Zen River ‘Temple’
Unfortunately, one religious site Groningen does lack is temples. Although there is a Korean Church (Kraneweg, Schildersbuurt) for the city’s Korean-Catholic population, any room for remaining Asian religions and philosophies seem to be scarce here. However, on a small houseboat on Winschoterdiep, you’ll find Zen meditation classes aplenty. Sunday mornings from 9:30-10:30 are free sessions, where you can take part in Zazen, described as “a form of sitting meditation that makes it possible to experience our deepest being and gain clarity about our function in this life.” There are, of course, other types of meditation on the Zen Boat and on other days during the week but these require a small membership fee. Bear in mind that you must also have an introductory class before first participation, so it is advised to contact them first. You can find the information on their website: http://www.zenrivertemple.org/zen-river-boat-groningen/