Being on a travel break seems like the perfect opportunity to catch up on almost five years of my blog posts: I still have so many stories, photos, anecdotes to share, including my trip to Maastricht! To make sure I write, I have a list and a filing system: I leave all the photos of a trip on my computer as long as I haven’t posted an article dedicated to this destination. Once the article is up, I save the photos on an external hard drives to free up space on the laptop. But photos are piling up and the posts are not written… It’s time to get back to it!
After this introduction, let’s talk about our topic of the day: visiting Maastricht in the Netherlands. Although I hated the year I spent in Hungary, I made great friends there. The type of friends who are not afraid to cross countries to visit each other.
So when I was back in Paris between two trips and two jobs, I took a week off in October 2016 to go to the Netherlands to visit three people dear to my heart, met in three different places, but all gathered in the same country.
I spent the week between Maastricht, Eindhoven, Hilversum and Amsterdam. Maastricht was the first stop, after a disastrous trip with Flixbus.
Day 1: Visiting Maastricht
I must have arrived in Maastricht City Centre around 2 p.m., and to celebrate our reunion and catch up on news, a waffle seemed just the right thing.
I have no idea of the names of the streets or the buildings, because the map of the city is not free at the Tourism Office (which is frankly not the best decision when you come to visit a fairly historic city and with lots of points of interest such as Maastricht).
We walked around the city centre a bit and climbed to the top of the tower of Saint John’s Church, Sint Janskerk. When buying the tickets, we desperately tried to speak Dutch, in vain. The gentleman at the counter, when he realized that we were French, immediately switched to French and made us pay the reduced rate… that was nice of him.
We continued to walk around Maastricht, we stopped to drink tea and eat a piece of cake in an old church converted into a bookstore (Selexyz Dominicanen, Dominicanerkerkstraat 1).
And then, because my friends have the same interests as me, we went to eat dinner (in the photo below you can see bitterballen, a Dutch specialty) and we then headed towards my friends’ house as golden hour and sunset on the river were happening around us. We ate at a restaurant called Burgerlijk, Rechtstraat 37.
Day 2: Forest and the American Cemetery of Maastricht
That day, it was very sunny and warm, and we decided not to go back to town but to explore the countryside. We planned to cross a forest to reach the American Cemetery of Margraten.
It was a very fun day (with its share of solemn all the same, but I will come back to it): we were still not very prepared: we left with an incomplete offline map from Google Maps… We didn’t get lost, but we could have avoided walking 20 km and a lot of detours.
The American Cemetery’s entrance was not the best on Google Maps back then, so better to check out the official website for directions.
It was a very beautiful and very quiet place. There is a pond of reflections, lists of names, flowers, flags, fall colours. The rows of crosses are very impressive.
And then on the way back (walking on the road this time, less scenic but faster) we were treated to a nice sunset.
Day 3: a solo day in Maastricht
For my last day in Maastricht, I simply wandered around, aimlessly and without a map! I love this feeling: discovering a new city when everything is calm, when there aren’t too many tourists, on a Monday morning.
Maastricht is the perfect place to do so. The city seemed almost British, with its red bricks and cobbled streets, but also very European, mixing influences from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. I didn’t visit anything that day, I just walked and walked, finding canals, a park, city walls, cafes, cute houses, squares, bicycles. Everything was photogenic, autumn sublimes the city even more.
Should you visit Maastricht?
Do I recommend you to visit Maastricht? Yes ! There are many things to do in Maastricht, as confirmed by the Tourism Office website. A day is enough, but two would allow to explore the surroundings more freely. Everybody speaks English or French so not speaking Dutch or Flemish should not be an issue!