Recently I had the opportunity to visit the capital of the Limburg province, Maastricht. I actually went there two different times in the past week, because well, it is that awesome. This is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands and is worth the journey. There are so many things to see and do, I personally spent two different afternoons there and enjoyed every minute of it other than being a little cold. I took the train there both times (however, the second time was very interesting because there was an accident on the rails). The train station is stunning, with stained glass windows all around. Also, at least during Christmas, the city sets up scaffolding which you can climb and take pictures of the station.
Now the city does lies on both sides of the Meuse River. So, to get to most of the activities in the city I had to cross a bridge that was roughly about a quarter of a mile from the station (so not to far). Also, walking through the city, on both sides of the river, there are many little shops to see. Oh! Right outside of the train station is a fantastic little cafe (what Americans would call a coffee shop) where they have some fantastic bookshelves filled with many different genres that are for any travelers pleasure. Now, I did get this gingerbread coffee (this is a big step for me because I do not usually drink coffee at all).
So, the first time I went I was joined by a friend in the area, we walked through the Christmas market that the city puts up in center city. I do not know what it is about ferris wheels and Christmas markets but almost every market over here has one during this season. This market is also very family friendly, with the back side of the market there is an entire section for the children. Now can I suggest that if you, as a traveler, decide to go to this market do not go the week before Christmas. It was shoulder to shoulder crowded. We moved on, mainly because of the crowds but also I have spent my fare share of money at Christmas markets this year.
With no real plan at all, we just walked around the city and enjoyed the ambiance of Maastricht. We did come across this church that had a gorgeous nativity scene (however, it was missing on of the stars of the show, I am not really sure why but it was an amusing factor in the scene). We saw people inside but we decided not to venture through the church this time but I am going to see what I can do on the next adventure out to the city.
Hungry and getting tired, we walked towards city hall, there are many restaurants in this area and so many choices. We ended up in this little restaurant called ‘Jour de Fete’-let me say, delicious! I had vispannetje (fish stew)-which, I had never had but I will defiantly order it again! Also, this particular place decorates for Christmas is one of the most tasteful manners which made the atmosphere that much enjoyable.
After dinner it was back to the station and time to venture back home.
The next time I went out to the city, I went with my husband and the main reason we went out there was to celebrate our three year anniversary. But, before I get there, the train ride. We took the train as planned and over the intercom we heard the conductor say something about how the train was not going to go any farther than Valkenburg (2 or 3 stops before Maastricht)-we did not know exactly what the conductor was saying because he was speaking in Dutch. When we got to Valkenburg the conductor who was there from another train told us that there was a large accident on the tracks near Maastricht station. However, the new public transport company (Arriva) had a lot of extra buses at the station to take everyone directly to Maastricht. This little side venture only added an extra 15 minutes to the total travel time.
My husband told me when we got there that he needed to go get a Christmas gift for me so he went one way and I went the other. I went into this phenomenal bookstore, Boekhandel Dominicankerk, which is made in an old church. I have never seen anything like this. Three floors of numerous books and educational material (they do have some books and magazines in English). I think I was in here for over an hour looking and reading all of the interesting material they offer and enjoying the architecture of the church. This place is a must stop for any book lover.
I met up with my husband after he found the mystery gift for me and we were off to dinner. We ended up at this called De Gouverneur, and we decided to sit outside (even though it was really chilly) under the many heaters and blankets they have at every outdoor table. We actually stayed warm the entire time. Quick observation: majority of the restaurants that has outdoor seating has the seating set so that people dinning can observe the people and activities that are taking place (basically, all the chairs are facing towards the street instead of the restaurant), so you have to get over the “same-side of the booth” phobia. Okay so I got these things called “kroketten”, the best way to explain what these are is that there are usually choices of pork, chicken, fish or cheese, simply put, fried hard. It is crunchy on the outside but soft and flavorful on the inside. They are worth trying at least once. We enjoyed our long dinner and then headed back home (thankfully the accident was clear by this point).
There will definitely be more trips out to Maastricht. There is so much to see and I am already making a list for my next exploration out there.
If you have any suggestions of things to see or do, please let me know in the comments below.
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