I must admit that I can handle living in a boring, mundane town, and I can handle the sweltering heat, but put them both together and I need some time away. I became even more excited for my weekend in Maastricht, Netherlands after a week of 90+ degree weather, and it was even warmer in my house. Unfortunately I couldn’t escape the heat, as although the train to Liege was temperature controlled, the 30 minute ride to Maastricht felt like a sauna. Further, I showed up on Friday afternoon in Maastricht and it reached a high of 97 degrees that day. My hotel didn’t have air conditioning, but surprisingly the fan they gave me coupled with the open windows ended up being fine. Within my first hour in town I found ‘Café de Bulldog’, a nice little spot right nearby my hotel. I ended up there a few times during the weekend, and met some very great people there.
Later my first night I used a couple recommendations from a book I have, Lonely Planet’s “Europe on a Shoestring”, to find a few things to do Maastricht. Firstly, I ate at a great Indonesian restaurant, ‘Gadjah Mas’, and had a wonderful meal. I never knew Indonesia used to be a Dutch colony, so that explains the prevalence of Indonesian people and food in Maastricht. Later, I went to ‘Take One’, a pub that boasts hundreds of beers, mostly Belgian. Here I met some other travelers, many of them American. At one point in the bar, the Americans outnumbered the Europeans. The one woman’s story was particularly interesting. Raised on the East Coast in the U.S., she basically decided one day to pick up and move to Paris. Nearly penniless when she got there, she found a way to get by, and years later she had moved to Brussels, and was now visiting Maastricht. It’s amazing and impressive to meet people who have the courage to take a big risk like that, I’m not sure I could’ve done that, I guess I lean towards taking the safe route with decisions. It makes me appreciate the travel opportunities I have now, as I probably would never have done them on my own.
Anyway, back to the other sites of Maastricht. They had a couple nice churches, but none more grandiose than the Basilica of St. Servatius.
They also have the oldest gate in the Netherlands, the Helpoort. I remember seeing the famous Roman gate in Trier, Germany and thinking the same thing…not impressed. To me, it’s just a stone archway, I get that it’s old, but maybe no one ever cared enough to knock it down. Coupled with that, it was really tucked away and it took me about an hour to find it.
The views from the bridges, and the bridges themselves, were also very picturesque.
And I also ran into some good looking statues…
The nightlife was good, but most places closed by one. Someone told me it had to do with the local Mayor shutting down cafes, but I couldn’t confirm that. The best thing about Maastricht was the people. Maybe I just got lucky going to the best places, but everyone was friendly and willing to get into long discussions with a stranger like me. Compared to some of my trips where I’m like a phantom and talk to hardly anyone, this ranked up there with Luxembourg and Edinburgh as one of my most social trips.
I will definitely be back here. It’s a great weekend getaway, and only a 3 hour train ride. And as someone taught me there, Maastricht is in the Netherlands, not Holland. I guess the country names have become interchangeable, but Holland is technically only the two provinces of North and South Holland…whereas Maastricht is in Limburg province. You learn something new every day I guess. What a great trip!