Although Groningen sounded a bit far for many of us (in Dutch distances), the idea of going to this Northern city was very appealing. As soon as the adventure began, it was evident that Groningen had a lot to offer. We met at the main railway station and realised that its architecture reflected an old beautiful spirit. Another, rather different, visual surprise followed: the architecture of Groninger Museum. We had been warned that ‘you either love it or hate it’ and it was not difficult to understand why. Being designed by different architects, the buildings are a lunatic mixture of styles and vibrant colours. Personally, I liked it!
That was a good beginning of our city tour, which by the way, was led by Evgenia Verovskaya, one HUTAC Board member who had lived in Groningen for some years. She delighted us with fun stories about the city. Walking along Vismarkt (the fish market) on a Saturday morning is considered a must and indeed, it proved to be a very enjoyable experience. I loved the contrast between the colorful market and the grey cloudy sky, a classic autumn Dutch scene. The Martinitoren was also part of our itinerary and we learnt how it survived stoically to lightnings and fire.
After wandering around the city, it was time for lunch. And what better place to enjoy it than the beautiful and peaceful Prinsentuin (Prince’s gardens), a great spot to eat and network with other HUTACers.
The Groningen University Museum was the next stop and we were very lucky to witness one of the last exhibitions in Europe commemorating the Darwin year. Just three days before the 150th anniversary of his book, ‘On the Origin of Species’, we walked among dissected specimens of all sizes and impressive skeletons. We also learnt about the path Darwin followed in order to develop his great theory.
At our final destination, Gigi’s place, the Italian culinary center where we enjoyed our dinner, Dr. Gerald De Haan, professor at the Department of Stem Cell Biology, University Medical Center Groningen, gave a very inspiring talk. He shared with us his personal and intellectual road that led him to where he is today.
At Gigi’s place we had to cook the food ourselves! Who can refuse the idea of throwing round dough to the ceiling for preparing pizza? We all worked in teams and after some great fun and cooking lessons, we enjoyed our delicious pizza, bread, salad and dessert, all accompanied by interesting talks with friends. Definitely a trip to remember!
Impressions by Alejandra Manjarrez, HUTAC member
Check out a series of photos from the event.