Welcome to the first blog! Below is a recording of an interesting place in Groningen with its uniques sounds. Can you guess what place you’re listening to? To make it easier on you, I’ll give you a few options to choose from. After that, I’ll tell a little more about the location and the sounds on the recording. Go ahead, give it a listen!
So what did you hear on this recording?
- Westerhaven (the western harbor)
- Hoornse Meer
The correct answer was 2. Westerhaven!
The Westerhaven is an interesting kind of harbor. Mainly because, technically speaking, it isn’t a harbor. In the past it was, and the canals and waterways of Groningen still run pas this place. But in the 1960’s, the harbor was filled up, the water was drained and dirt, stones and asphalt were placed to create a shopping area. Concerning sounds, the Westerhaven now acts as a sort of gateway, and it exists in a constant, strange duality.
One side of the Westerhaven gives immediate access to the downtown area, with many busses, bikes and people moving past it almost non-stop. Most of the stores and restaurants of the Westerhaven are located in this part, as well as one of the most iconic places of Groningen: “Het Stripmuseum”, a museum dedicated to the comic book culture in the Netherlands. This place is filled with noises of busses and cars, the chatter of people, music from the shops, in short: a total cacophony of sounds. But that’s not the part that interests me here. Because like I said, there is a sort of gateway here.
And that gateway leads to the second part of the Westerhaven. The part that’s next to the waterways and canals. The part where actual boats are located, waiting until their owners plan to sail out. A canoe club has their headquarters here and often goes canoeing with its members here. The shops are replaced with trees, the restaurants are replaced with simple benches, and only one road goes by this part. Instead of busses, you can hear boats calmly going by. The chatter of people is replaced with the tweeting of birds. And a unique part of the tourism in Groningen can be heard on the recording: city tours by boat.
A few hundred meters east is the central station of Groningen. A bit to the north is the downtown area. To the south is one of the largest and busiest roads in the city, the Paterswoldseweg. And to the west is an area filled with cafés and shops, as well as one of the main waterways in the city. But as you can hear on the recording, none of those noises are heard when in this part of the Westerhaven, even though the Westerhaven itself is a busy shopping center as well. But this place creates a quiet area, a moment of serenity, locked in between four places that are filled with city noises.