The other Soestdijk

Groningen? Royal? But yes, the city I live in, in the northeast of the Netherlands surely has some royal connections.

There is the Prinsentuin (Prince’s Garden), the renaissance garden of the old princely court with its rose garden, herb garden, berceaus and a sundial. The W and the A for Stadtholder Willem Frederik and his wife Albertine Agnes were created using hedges. There is also a possibility to have tea in the garden. It is a surprisingly quiet place, although it is situated in the centre of town. There is not much left of the old princely court, although the building is still there. It was one of the residences of the Stadtholders of Groningen, the Orange-Nassau family, from 1576 until the late 18th century. Afterwards the building was used as hospital, barracks, office for the local tv-channel RTV Noord. But since August 2012 it is home of the Hotel Prinsenhof. Even King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands spent the night there before their visit to the Province of Groningen in May 2013.

The Martini Church in the middle of the center at least once saw a royal wedding, when in 1659 Princess Henriëtte-Catharina of Orange-Nassau married Fürst Johann Georg II of Anhalt-Dessau.

Yesterday I finally also visited – after living in Groningen for almost 20 years! – the Dinercafé Soestdijk. This place is situated in the centre of Groningen. It was opened in 1991 with a royal theme. Inside there are portraits of royals, if you go to the toilet you go either to the “Prinsjes” (little princes) or the “Prinsesjes” (little princesses), and the staff is called the royal household. Long time ago, when they were studying in Groningen, this was the place where Prince Maurits met his Marilène, when they both were working in this dinercafé. There is still a photo on the wall of the staff back then, including this couple. On top of it hangs a portrait of Princess Beatrix. Although it was quite busy yesterday evening, we managed to get a window seat after a while, luckily before the dinner arrived. After having studied the menu I choose the gado gado, while my mother opted for a quiche with spinach (vegetarian). We also got a salad and french fries (with real mayonaise). After we had finished we waited a while before taking a dessert, a mud-pie, which is a pretty heavy piece of chocolate cake with caramel and whipped cream. I would absolutely recommend the place to anyone coming to Groningen. The food was delicious and the service absolutely royal. Unfortunately for us the weather was not good enough to sit on the terrace.

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