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Traveller's Tales



Groningen is the capital of Groningen region in the northern part of Holland, around 180 kilometers from Amsterdam. I was invited to Groningen by a friend, George Goutsmith to see the Noorderzon Cultural Festival. 

The Town
Groningen, like almost every major towns in Holland has kind of “centrum”, which normally characterized with a big square, State Huis and a big church. The centrum of Groningen is called Grote Markt with its famous, Mertini Toren (Tower) and Martini Kerk (Church)
The centrum is circled by a river or rather a canal and riding bicycle in the centrum, criss-crossing both the big, as well as small streets and alleys is an enjoyable and healthy way to wander around. Besides shops, restaurants and cafes, there are also other places of interests worth stopping by, such as Groningen Museum and many old buildings.
Amongst many restaurants and cafes, there is one particular restaurant specializing the typical Dutch favorites “pannekoek”, however in a rather unique way. The name of the restaurant is “Restaurant t’Pannekoekship” and the restaurant is in form of an old ship and float in the canal.
Equally unique is the variety of pannekoek which surprised even the Dutch, because they are not available anywherelse except in this restaurant. The names of pannekoek serves in this restaurant is as unusual and as exotic as the its environment, such as: Voor de Lichtmatroos: pannekoek for the children and Aan de Kap’teinstafel (from the Captain’s table): named under the famous Dutch Captains, such as: Kapiten Boukema, Kapiten Blauwbaard etc. To further confuse, or perhaps to keep everybody happy, they even go as far as pannekoek “Van Over Zee” (from abroad), such as: Chinese Pannekoek, Surinamse Pannekoek, Vietnamese Pannekoek, Thaise Pannekoek, to name a few. To enter the restaurant over the week-end, one has to wait in a rather long que........
The Noorderzon Festival
While it is known as “the cultural festival”, however, there is nothing cultural whatsoever about the festival. Like many other festivals, the event was characterized with many restaurants, bars and food-stalls, children attractions and only one theater.
Meneer George Goutsmith who invited me, open an Indonesian restaurant, serving Indonesian foods, such as: sate ayam, nasi goreng, nasi kuning, nasi rames, bakmi and many others typical Indonesian foods.
Meneer Goutsmith claimed himself as the worker, the manager and at the same time the owner of “De Omheltzing Restaurant and Catering”. His restaurant is widely known amongst the intellectuals. All the people employed in his restaurant are family and everything is kept within his hand …….
His son Jody specializing himself in “the gebaken foods” or the fried foods ala Indonesia, such as: bala-bala, lumpia etc
And his lovely daughter Surya tending and making the customers feel relax with her smiles ……
I find that “the openes” of the atmospheres was really a typical Dutch, such as: Hair Salon in the open ……
Poetry reading in the open on a floating dinghy ……..
even when it comes to something that should be done in absolute privacy, such as: pee in the open ……
In all, my short visit to Groningen was a memorable ones, especially due to the second to none hospitality of the Goutsmith family...
Hartelijk dank  George, Martha, Jody and Surya! 
Geen problem ….. anytime!

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