I just want to be tucked in at night

Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
Trip End Aug 03, 2008

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Flag of Netherlands  , Groningen,
Monday, July 14, 2008

Didn't have too much time this morning, so I just quickly made myself a sandwich for breakfast.  I had another good, dark, rich cup of coffee, though it seemingly was better yesterday.  They ran out of OJ, so I settled for apple, instead.  I said my goodbyes to Stefan, and was off to the train station. 

I needed a little help from the info desk, where the lady performed a lookaway maneuver!  Sadly, the German lookaway just isn't as hot as the Spanish lookaway :(  The lady gave me my train connections for today - it's a bit of a pain to travel around this area; yesterday, I had to change trains three times, and today two. 

The first connection was in Leer, where I had enough time to use the bathroom and eat a giant kebab (not at the same time, of course!).  Great value for 2.50 Euros, it was huge, served in a giant wedge of foccacia-like bread.  A first - the guy had a pot of what looked to be au jus simmering, and he drizzled some over top the kebab.  But he didn't give me any sauce, so I went back to get some.  It was tzatziki, instead of the usual kebab sauce. 

Groningen was pretty dead, when I arrived, but almost every place in Europe is dead on Sundays.  I used the free internet terminal at the TI, despite it being a stand-up machine that was intended for short use.  After expensive Scandinavia, I need to scam whatever freebies I can!  

The clouds rolled in and the wind picked up as I walked to the Simplon Jongerenhotel.  It's pretty grungy, but it had a decent common area.  I dropped off my bag and went to sightsee - my first impressions of the town were that maybe I should have gone direct to Amsterdam, instead, but it's too late now!  I walked around over to an apartment complex that was formerly St. Gertrude's hospice (Groningen used to be famous for these), where a beautiful Dutch woman smiled through her window.  I thought "Maybe it's a good thing I didn't go direct to Amsterdam, after all ..."

The main streets of Groningen would probably be quite busy and entertaining on any other day, but Sundays are always boring.  I skipped out on the Groningen museum, which potentially could have been quite interesting.  It's supposed to have a futuristic vibe, and the guidebook described its art as being as risky as the architecture - promising, but I just wasn't in the mood today. 
There were a couple of markets going on today, at Folkingestraat and the Vismarkt - mostly junk, but with some books and records.  I came across a church that was hosting a free art exhibit - I couldn't actually see much of the church because of the art on display, but who really cares?  I also found a free photo exhibit in a gallery - nothing special, though there were one or two interesting photos. 
Listed in the guidebook was one of the city's parking garages, described as one of the most beautiful in the Netherlands.  Who the hell cares?  The final sightseeing stop of the day was the rose garden - probably much nicer on a sunny day. 
I went back to the hostel to relax for a bit - they had changed receptionists, and the new one was a definite upgrade over the grungy guy that checked me in!  Brunette, cute ... perhaps Groningen is the Dutch equivalent of Toledo!
I asked for a restaurant recommendation, but she couldn't think of one and asked the owner, who replied "There's an Australian restaurant.  They serve kangaroo."  The reception girl was horrified ... I would have like to try kangaroo, but couldn't bear horrifying such a cutie!
Instead, I went to the Satehuis for Indonesian.  Too bad I forgot my camera, because this was one hell of a meal.  I started with a De Konink - I didn't bother with any Dutch beers, because I remember one waiter telling me not to bother, but to go with the Belgian stuff instead. 
The meal came with the salad bar - tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, cabbage, pineapple, raisins, pickled pearl onions, this wasn't the highlight of the meal.  It was the six chicken skewers that were amazing - they didn't look the satay you get in Calgary, that are thin, dry little strips of meat that barely resemble chicken. 
They were big cubes of dark meat, with an incredible aroma and flavour.  Juicy, succulent ... the only bad thing was that it was served with plain, not coconut rice.  Shrimp chips on the side, assorted veggies (cucumber, cabbage, onion, sprouts), and peanut sauce.  The sauce was incredible, not like the watery peanut butter you get in Calgary. 
Dark, thick, rich ... at first I questioned how I could finish such a big bowl of sauce, but I found myself spooning it right over the rice.  It's also less sweet than what you find in Calgary; not sure if this is a sign of authenticity.  The fried, shredded coconut sprinkled atop everything added a beautiful dash of flavour and texture.  Not a bad meal for 15 Euros. 
Back to the hostel - watched some TV with the hottie receptionist in the lounge.  University student, born in Utrecht - I decided earlier not to stop in Utrecht, but might have to if there are more women like her there ... she was quite pleased when I told her that I did NOT eat any kangaroo tonight.   
She told me that her classes actually take place in the Groningen soccer stadium?  I'll chalk that up to a communication problem, because that makes no sense to me whatsoever.  It's alright, she had a nice accent and if it was a mistake, it was still cute!  Especially when she was twirling her hair ... why the heck does something so silly do it for me?
During my first trip to Amsterdam, I thought that the Dutch women were very beautiful, but wondered if the ones I saw were actually Dutch, or just tourists.  Well, Groningen is a pretty un-touristy town and from what I've seen today, it's been confirmed that Dutch women are hot! 
I went out to find an internet café, because the hostel charged exorbitant rates.  Tried catching up some blogs, but was distracted when the guy opposite me was joined by his girlfriend.  The fact that Dutch women are hot was confirmed, once again ...
Walking back to the hostel, action on the streets had picked up significantly, particularly on Poelestraat, the centre of the nightlife.  Being a University town, it's renowned for that.  Despite the chilly evening air, the outdoor cafes were buzzing. 
Chatted with the hostel hottie a bit more before going to bed.  Funny thing - I wasn't too impressed with this place earlier, but that seems to have changed.  Now this place gets 9 senoritas out of ten!  Though I must admit, that I was disappointed with the customer service.  I joked with the girl that it felt kind of creepy sleeping in this cavernous room by myself.  Secretly, I hoped that she would offer to tuck me in and read me a bedtime story, or perhaps sing me a lullaby.  That's not too much to ask, is it???    
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