Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Going Dutch for City Break; IT'S Newcastle's Twin City and Can Be Reached in Just Threeand-a-Half Hours. ZOE BURN Took a Weekend Break in Groningen, to Find out Just How the Two Compare

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Going Dutch for City Break; IT'S Newcastle's Twin City and Can Be Reached in Just Threeand-a-Half Hours. ZOE BURN Took a Weekend Break in Groningen, to Find out Just How the Two Compare

Article excerpt

Byline: ZOE BURN

IF choosing a city break in The Netherlands, most people would automatically think Amsterdam.

But my husband and I were asked to think outside the box and visit Newcastle's twin city of Groningen.

It's the largest city in the north with two universities, is home to 50,000 students and half of its population is under 35.

Getting there couldn't be easier. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines this month celebrates 25 years of flying from Newcastle to Amsterdam, with several flights every day, and a flight time of about an hour.

The Dutch rail network is a slick operation too. Arriving at Schiphol Airport, we headed downstairs to the station and were able to catch a train within 10 minutes.

Not buying a return ticket worked in our favour. Going out we spent 27euro each, but coming back we got a first-class seat each for a combined price of 39euro.

The journey from Schiphol to Groningen takes two-and-a-half hours, and is a chance to observe the Dutch countryside - fields with cows, picturesque villages, canals, and of course, bicycles.

But no amount of bikes observed from the train windows can prepare you for what waits at Groningen, dubbed the World Cycling City with 57% of all journeys made on two wheels.

Massive multi-storey bike parks greet you as you arrive, and the city has a complex cycle network to make it easy for anyone on bikes.

Our base for the weekend was the NH Groningen, a four-star hotel just five minutes walk from the centre.

Our room was on the eighth of 10 floors, giving fantastic views across the city, and we felt we could've been looking out across Newcastle with its old architecture dotted with a few modern structures.

We enjoyed dinner in the hotel that evening. Main courses were 18-21 euro and the portions were enormous. Mains come with fries, veg and salad and the food was great.

Heading out to meet a city guide after a hearty self-service breakfast next morning, we found the roads can be tricky to cross, mainly due to the bikes. …

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