Monday, April 27, 2009

Maastricht with Jack & Mary

After the night of Batavierenrace partying, on Sunday afternoon we took the long train ride from Enschede to Maastricht in the southeastern tip of the Netherlands.

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Although Maastricht is only about 220 km (~136 miles) southwest of Enschede, there is no direct north-south train between the two. As a result, we had to travel about 100 km (~62 miles) out of the way via Utrecht resulting in a trip that ended up taking more than four hours. By the time we arrived in Maastricht it was after five in the afternoon, but thanks to the long days, we still had enough time to walk to the city center and see several old churches before dark.

Our hotel could have only been more convenient if it were located in the train station. Alas, it was a few hundred yards across the street. The Grand Hotel de l'Empereur was extremely nice and well kept for the price (got to love Expedia!).

Maastricht Station

Grand Hotel de l'Empereur

During the short walk from the hotel to the city center we passed a side street leading to St. Martin's Church and crossed the Maas River.

Sint Martinuskerk (St. Martin's Church)

Maas River

From the river it wasn't far to the Vrijthof square where Saint John's Church and the Basilica of St. Servatius are almost literally butressed up against each other. Both were closed to visitors that late in the day, but it was still awe inspiring to admire the size of the tower on St. John's Church. The cathedrals of Europe are truly amazing works of engineering and devotions to faith.

Sint Servaasbasiliek (Basilica of St. Servatius)

Towers of the Basilica of St. Servatius.

Stained glass windows of the Basilica of St. Servatius.

Sint Janskerk (St. John's Church)

The massive tower of St. John's Church.

After admiring the churches, we decided to have dinner at one of the many restaurants facing the square. We sat down to enjoy a delicious beer made at the Grand Cafe D'n Ingel. The beer was cool and refreshing with a taste that was a cross of Dutch lager and Belgian white beers, appropriate for the mixture of cultures in the border city of Maastricht. We followed with another round of beers and a fantastic meal. I chose to be adventurous by selecting the kangaroo and ostrich steaks. They were moist, tender and not that dissimilar to beef.

After dinner, we were all very full and tired from the meal and a long day of traveling. It had begun to rain so we took a taxi back to the hotel and called it an early evening.

Yesterday morning we awoke to a cold, dreary and occasionally rainy day. We all slept in and were slow to start which ended up being good as the skies cleared in the interim. After checking out of our rooms and storing our luggage at the front desk, we had a quick bite to eat at a sandwich shop around the corner. From there, Roxi and I headed for the train station for our return trip to Enschede. My parents decided to spend another few hours in Maastricht taking a tour bus around the city to learn some of the history of the disputed oldest city in the Netherlands. From there they continued their European journey to Bruges, Belgium. They will be continuing on to Paris today and then to Mainz, Germany on Friday. We will rendezvous with them in Cologne on Saturday for a trip to the homeland of my mother's grandparents in Geilenkirchen, Germany on Sunday.

We had a great time with my parents in Amsterdam, Enschede and Maastricht and are looking forward to meeting up with them in Germany this weekend, but for now, we are glad to be back home where we can rest for a few days!

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