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The adventures of the Mel

The not-end of the Netherlands.

NETHERLANDS | Monday, 29 September 2008 | Views [575]

My last stop in the Netherlands was the beautiful Maastricht. Lonely Planet calls it a ‘stunner’ and they’re not far from wrong. A beautiful little town, with, you guessed it, old European architecture and cobblestone streets. Doesn’t matter how many times I see this, I love it every time. Maastricht is the apparently the oldest town in the country, so I’ve read anyway. It is located right down in the south - apparently you can walk to the Belgium border and the bus to Aachen (on the German border) takes about an hour (with numerous stops). I must admit I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t greener – I guess I was expecting something not unlike Interlaken and Innsbruck – surrounded by green and hiking, although not necessarily the high mountains. I didn’t actually get out of the town but nobody could tell me where to hike – their only suggestion was to grab a bike and cycle. I probably should have done this, but my last day I woke up feeling extremely lazy. I am pleased to report that I haven’t done much in the past little while except for read. I’ve read three books in three days. Just trashy crime-thriller novels, but it has been so enjoyable. I’d forgotten how addictive it is!

Anyway….the walk around the town of Maastricht is a really nice one. It’s another fairly touristy place but still has a nice relaxed feel, though for some strange reason more hustle-bustle than Rotterdam. Everybody seemed to stroll around in Rotterdam, but here everybody seemed more intent on getting somewhere. It wasn’t a stressful feel, but still not entirely laid-back. I on the other hand was in no rush. I had a 7-bed dorm to myself the first night, strolled around during the day, and did not do a great deal on the last day. Probably my favourite thing in town was the main bookstore – in a church! I thought it was a great idea. They restore a beautiful old gothic building and stuff it full of books.

Eating was interesting in Maastricht. Dinner on the first night I was ushered into an Italian pizza place that was run by Italians (I could understand what they were saying! A nice change from Dutch where you feel like you should (because of the similarities to English) but can’t understand a word. Plus, they served up REAL Italian pizza – thin base and a focus on few but awesomely delicious toppings. I also had some of the waffles, which many cover in sugar despite it not being needed (from a HUGE sweet-tooth!). Tasty, tasty, tasty. I also sampled the local fare of fries smothered in mayonnaise – sounds not so great, tastes pretty damn good.

The last night I got barely any sleep as the women in my room took it in turns to snore. Not just any snoring. Oh no. It was random, out-of-sync in rhythm AND volume, which made it almost impossible to sleep. I slept with my headphones on and off all night – just when I thought it was safe they’d start up again. And it would wake me up!! I could have throttled one when she asked me bright-eyed if I’d slept well. At least when men snore it’s rhythmic and it can blend into the background (provided it’s not wall-shaking). Or at least you can hit them to wake them up so that by the time they start again you’re asleep. Sigh.

Anyway, I’ve left the Netherlands and am now in Germany, so guess it calls for a summary:

Bottom Three:

3. Not being able to cross it off my ‘to see’ list because I have to come back (okay, so this isn’t exactly a bad thing, but I was struggling!)

2. Pretty expensive

1. Dickheads in Amsterdam. Enough said.

Top Seven

7. Everybody speaks perfect English (though this could be a minus if you wanted to learn the language – only being here 9 days didn’t give me enough time!)

6. Cheap and efficient public transport

5. The diversity of the country

4. The staff (inc. Lexie) and atmosphere at Room Rotterdam

2. Beautiful Delft

2. Den Haag and its Escher museum

1. The Dutch – warm, friendly people who understand the concept of sarcasm.

Maastricht photos


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