Nijmegen through the eyes of Jan Diebels
Owner Dedicated and ilovenijmegen.nl
Jan Diebels is a Nijmegener at heart but happens to live and have been born in Druten. He owns clothing shop Dedicated and webshop ilovenijmegen.nl. He is also on the board of the Marikenstraat. Reason enough to ask Jan what makes Nijmegen such a beautiful city.
What makes Nijmegen so unique?
“I used to consider Nijmegen a ‘sales city’. But a good Dutch city is a ‘shopping city’: a city you don’t only visit when there is a sale. People go to shopping cities for a weekend away, combining shopping with art and culture. Over the years, I have seen Nijmegen transform into that, which is good news. Nijmegen also has some tourist magnets, such as the Four Days Marches and events in the Goffertpark.''
Which shopping areas are a must?
“It’s crazy to say it as a Marikenstraat board member, but you shouldn’t miss Lange Hezelstraat. Combined with Grote Markt, it offers great shopping and is a real attraction. As a whisky lover, I should also mention Versailles on that street, which really feels like an authentic shop. On Marikenstraat, (consisting of two levels with more than 50 stores!), we have Dekker van de Vegt bookstore, which is a lovely place.”
What else should you visit in Nijmegen?
“If I had to choose a single, ultimate tip, I would say the Vierdaagsefeesten. As the city with the largest marching event in the world, Nijmegen is known worldwide. That is something the whole city can be proud of.”
Where should you go for a fun night out?
“If you want a bite to eat, I recommend Dionysos: the Greek restaurant on Bloemerstraat. The food is delicious, but it is not a high-class restaurant, so the atmosphere is relaxed. After the meal, cross the street for karaoke at Van Deelen. If karaoke isn’t your thing, do what I do and have a beer at Café Samson. You can meet new people there every time.”
“In terms of hospitality, our city has a lot to offer. I often enjoy a glass of wine at Buskens on Berg en Dalseweg. And, of course, if you’re not into Greek food, there is much more. My other favourites include Bistro de Bok for a steak and MANNA when I have something to celebrate with my wife. They both have a completely different look, but variety is the spice of life.”
WHERE DO YOU FIND PEACE IN THE CITY?
“Until two years ago, I had never been to the Ooijpolder; looking back, that is incomprehensible. You can feel the stress roll off your shoulders when you go for a walk there. With all that nature around Nijmegen, you can easily spend a whole week on holiday here to unwind. Combine walking in nature with two days in the city centre. Sanadome spa is also near Nijmegen. If a sauna and spa treatments don’t help you unwind, I don’t know what will!”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE NIJMEGEN IN THREE WORDS?
“The first word is adventurous. This city was not like that twenty years ago, and I believe the change is an excellent development. The high number of students also helps with that, and is why places like the Honig and the Vasim are so popular.”
“Despite Nijmegen being a growing city, the second word is village. That keeps the centre pleasant. And finally, Nijmegen is diverse. Until a few years ago, I lived in my own cocoon, but just look at everything the city has to offer.”
“One more thing that makes Nijmegen unique is the daily Sunset March by veterans, a tribute to the Allied soldiers who fought to liberate Nijmegen and the Netherlands. There are 48 pairs of lamp posts on the De Oversteek bridge, one for each soldier who died during the fighting. Those lamp posts go on one by one as at least one veteran walks the Sunset March every night at the rate the lights go on. I hope every Nijmegen resident will have walked the Sunset March one day. It is so important to our city from a historical point of view.”
Portrait photography: Elise Photography