Maastricht – The Netherlands
Posted on May 21, 2015
While Americans, Brits, French and every other conceivable countrymen were jammed into Amsterdam enjoying its myriad offerings, we were on the opposite side of the country in the largest city of Limburg soaking up the beautiful scene, along with half the country’s Dutchmen on vacation. We are so glad to have found this small city, bang up against the Belgian border. We found a parking place in a modern underground garage and walked across an airy pedestrian bridge over the River Maas into the town itself. Throngs of people and bicycles ruled the day.
Pedestrians, especially the foreign American type, lead a hard life in Europe and the Netherlands in particular because of the constant life threatening possibilities of interaction with cars, busses, ambulances, and bikes. Everyone knows the rules of the game except us. We must learn quickly, especially how to avoid wrecking a perfectly good bike and rider. They have their lanes, which may be in the street or on the sidewalk. We are not to occupy their turf. It’s an easy rule to forget.
We entered the portal of the old obligatory wall that once upon a time probably kept some bad guys out. Nowadays, people may be friendlier to one another.
By mid morning we were a bit flagged and thinking of having a nice cup of coffee. Unfortunately coffee is very expensive and served in far too small cups, with no chance for a free refill. Across the street was a Nespresso shop. Sounded like Nescafe to me. We checked it out. It was a store devoted exclusively to selling K-cups and their branded machines. As expected,in the rear was a bar where we could do some taste testing. So we got our caffein fix for free.
Had we been hungry we could have enjoyed a coke and hotdog. Hmmm.
Down a narrow street we saw a church and thought we might as well check it out.
Upon entering, we were surprised to see not an interior filled with darkness and mystery, but rather a well lit massive bookstore that filled the nave. Old church out of business repurposed to fit the needs of a new age. The place was jammed; business was good. Sacred and profane juxtaposed.
A few blocks away we come to the city hall, set in the middle of a massive empty plaza, Dutch style. On market days the plaza is filled with food and flower stalls, and bustles with life.
In the afternoon what’s better to do than sit in a tree filled plaza and have something good to eat or drink, while watching more interesting people walk by.
Who would ever stop to engage a sidewalk hawker giving away free samples of soap slivers in the style of pieces of cold cuts? Uh. we did. Dora was charming and genuine. Inside her cosmetics shop she polished our nails, gently softened our hands and cleansed our skin in a convincing way. We bought some of her wares. I think she liked us as much as we liked her. She asked us for a hug and a photo of us three. We got our money’s worth.
We’ll next venture to a village once owned entirely by a Catholic convent of twenty noble ladies, the white village of Thorn.