We went for another decadent breakfast and then enjoyed wandering around the Friday morning market. It exudes a buzz and is very busy. The market is clearly a successful one which has everything including, fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, toiletries, flowers, clothes and copious amounts of fabric and sewing stalls. Obviously, the Dutch love to sew because the amount of fabric stalls frequented by locals was extraordinary. Quite envious of the market because you could acquire much of the weekly food shop there.
During the afternoon, we strolled into the local park, visited an old mill and sat and had a cuppa in a busy square. The sun was shining and we enjoyed bitterballen and beer too. Once we languished in the sun, we didn’t really want to move.
My overall impression of Maastricht was very good. Lovely place, with great architecture (historical and modern), bars, restaurants, parks, river and shops. Very relaxing place to visit and easy to drive to from Calais. A great holiday with plenty of food, drink and walking. One day we walked over 19,000 steps and on the quiet, easy days, we ended up walking 15,000 steps. There is hardly any traffic although you do have to watch the bikes. This makes it easy to wander and explore. Yes, a super place to visit and recommended.
We caught a train to Valkenburg which is a beautiful city and a fascinating place to explore. Before the train journey, we popped into a bakery for coffee and croissants. The shops and eateries in this area are so stylish and a joy to visit.
Wandering around the streets of Valkenberg was glorious with quirky architecture, castle overlooking the town and the ‘caves’. Apparently, the castle belonged to the illegitimate son of Duke Philip, known as the bastard of Burgundy. Much of the buildings are known to be similar to Burgundy, for this reason. The Burgundian lifestyle still means enjoyment, delicious food and extravagance. There are areas full restaurants where you can stop have a drink and a meal and watch the world go by. We did this for lunch and it was so relaxing and felt quite decadent and wonderful.
The castle is unique in the Netherlands because it is the only one built on a hill. We did a tour of the caves which was weirdly creepy but interesting nevertheless. The whole tour was in Dutch and we were given a paper with the main information. This was OK, but as it was so dark, we had to use the torches on our phones. I felt quite disorientated because I’ve always disliked caves but it was interesting. We learnt about the block cutter’s workstation, the Valkenburg Castle, the American army during WW2, the Royal House, and the sad tale of two boys getting lost in the caves and found perished in 1993. The tour guide turned his lamp off to demonstrate the darkness. At this moment, it became clear how you’d be lost without a lamp.
Overall, a great day out. Particularly enjoyed wandering around the old town and the lovely lunch whilst watching the world walk by.
We went to a lovely cafe for coffee and croissant for breakfast. Really enjoyed the place and they even had a glass fridge full of bottled beer. I’d love one in my home! Then headed towards the River Maas for some photos and across the bridge for even more photos. The sky was very grey and atmospheric so great for photography. We walked along the cobbled streets admiring the architecture and local life. You certainly have to watch the cyclists, some of which text as they cycle.
They have some curious shops full of funny bits which I’m sure maybe useful…somewhere. Socks with ‘i hate everyone’ on and suction tools for getting boiled eggs out of hot water. Always fun to see shops in other countries. Never buy much because cannot be bothered to cart it home. Can you?
By midday we stopped for apples and water before climbing the red tower to enjoy the view. Steep claustrophobic steps ensued. Phew. We managed it…somehow! The red tower is called Sint Janskerk and is 17th century Gothic. The red tower can be seen for miles and a wonderful, unusual sight. The limestone tower was said to originally be covered with a coat of ox blood but has been restored with normal paint. After our arduous climb we were rewarded with sweeping views of Maastricht. Quite incredible.
After this we plonked ourselves in one of the local cafes and ordered tea and bitterballen. We joked how this will become a daily 3 o’clock habit. Must say I thoroughly enjoyed wandering around and then enjoying family chatter in the cafe watching the world go by with tea and bitterballen. In the square children chased birds, bikes whizzed passed and there was a hilarious woman posing Angelina style while her hubby was trying to photo her. It did look funny watching her pose, leg out, arm on hip, holding brolly as her man was getting soaked taking the photo.
During the evening we had another jolly family meal and a wander around the narrow cobbled streets.
This is going to be our first family holiday for years and it is all very exciting. We are going with our offspring and their partners. Maastricht is the place we are visiting, because my daughter’s husband grew up there as a child and wants to show us the place.
We set off bleary eyed in the car with cases and a jointly prepared picnic. The journey was relaxing because my son-in-law kindly offered to drive. During the journey enjoyed one or two naps and watched the English, French, Belgium and eventually the Dutch countryside rushing by. We stopped for lunch which was ham or cheese rolls, tomatoes and coleslaw. Homemade cookies, made by son’s girlfriend and omg they were delicious. We sat outside, and although freezing, it was fun and we were pleased to eat because all ravenous.
We arrived, parked in the hotel carpark and set off for beers and bitterballen. We found a bar and relaxed for a couple of hours and then returned to the hotel to register, unpack and refresh for dinner. Must say, already impressed with Maastricht with its cobled streets, beautiful architecture and vibrant, busy bars.
Dinner was a huge plate of Satay chicken, salad and chips. When I finished, I did think about choosing some healthy options, at some point, during this adventure.
Can’t wait to explore the city.