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.

Pedestrian bridge over the Maas River

Pedestrian bridge over the Maas River

View from the bridge

View from the bridge over to the “new” side of town

Parking lot for bikes at the end of the bridge

Parking lot for bikes at the end of the bridge

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.

Fine building outside the wall

Fine building outside the wall

A massive portal of old[/caption]

A massive portal of old

A native passing the time

A native passing the time

Tourists on the loose

Tourists on the loose

Old bikes abandoned for years

Bikes bent and abandoned. What a skill is laying cobblestones.

A nice mail slot. Most are plastered with stickers to have no junk mail delivered here.

A nice mail slot. Most are plastered with stickers to have no junk mail delivered here.

Another brass mail slot

Another brass mail slot

Look closely. This is a water bottle filling station. on the sidewalk.

Look closely. This is a water bottle filling station. On the sidewalk. Free.

Black is in.

Black is in.

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.

The Dutch equivalent of Nescafe, I presume

The Dutch equivalent of Nescafe, I presume

Look at all those K-cups

Look at all those K-cups

We got our coffee fix for free and had a really good time doing so.

We got our coffee fix for free and had a really good time doing so.

Had we been hungry we could have enjoyed a coke and hotdog. Hmmm.

Fast food in Maastricht

Fast food in Maastricht

Down a narrow street we saw a church and thought we might as well check it out.

The church seemed to hold some possibilities to be checked out.

The church with a curious entry

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.

Massive bookstore fills the Gothic church building

Massive bookstore fills the Gothic church building

On the mezanine we we are up among the arches.

On the second level mezzanine we we are up among the arches.

From up here, we get an exceptional sense of the building's scale.

From up here on the third level, we get an exceptional sense of the building’s scale.

The choir is now for coffee and cakes. The cross is a reading table.

The choir is now for coffee and cakes. The cross is a reading table.

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.

City Hall on the market plaza

City Hall on the market plaza

A little detail carved above a window.

A little detail carved above a window.

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.

A leafy plaza downtown

A leafy plaza downtown

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.

Eva's nails now glisten like new, or better.

Eva’s nails now glisten like new, or better.

Our parting shot

Our parting shot

We’ll next venture to a village once owned entirely by a Catholic convent of twenty noble ladies, the white village of Thorn.

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