Travel Blog - Team Member on Tour in Maastricht/Netherlands
Let me introduce myself briefly. I am Inga, a Senior member of the team at Enviroblog.net (https://www.enviroblog.net/contributors), born in Germany and live in Australia for 34 years. Travelling to Europe is therefore on my agenda when possible. I recently returned from a trip to Europe with travel stories to tell. In this blog I will take you to Maastricht, a university city on the southern tip of the Netherlands. The place is distinguished by its medieval-era architecture and vibrant cultural scene.
Now come along; enjoy the story with idyllic pictures!
View from the historical Sint Servaasbrug (Bridge of Saint Servatius). Maastricht and it’s people are indeed charming
Historical Sint Servaasbrug, named after Maastricht's first bishop who died in A.D. 384, this stone bridge is the oldest bridge in the Netherlands - (flickr.com photo credit Dennis Jarvis)
With almost 24 hours flying time behind me, leaving from Brisbane in Australia via Singapore, I finally arrived at Düsseldorf Airport in Germany. I picked up my earlier arranged hired car and my first adventure began - visiting Maastricht in the Netherlands; reaching my destination - the hotel “Amrâth Grand Hotel de l'Empereur” - after a comfortable one hour and thirty minutes drive.
Opposite Maastricht train station, this upscale hotel in an Art Nouveau-style building is a kilometer from the art exhibits at the Bonnefantenmuseum and 4 km from cave tours in the Maastricht Grotten Zonneberg.
Maastricht Railway Station
Maastricht, the capital city of the province Limburg, has over 120,000 inhabitants and is a real tourist city. Yearly it attracts over 3 million visitors. The city has had a truly multicultural influence throughout its history, and as a result many different languages are spoken there throughout time. Prominent citizen “Andre Rieu” with his beautiful classical music is an additional asset and attraction. He performs with his “Johann Strauss Orchestra” and brings joy to millions of people all over the world. Needless to say that I am one of his fans and therefore inspired to visit “his” city.
As the best way of sightseeing, in my short time available, I chose a combined “bus/boat tour”, first through the city and then with the boat along the river “Maas”. This included a visit to the caves, also known as the Marl Caves of Maastricht/Grotten Sint-Pietersberg. The Maastricht Underground is a collection of underground caves, the origins of which go back to the 13th century. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caves_of_Maastricht)
I can honestly say that one day only in this charming city is definitely not enough as there are so many attractions waiting to be explored. Despite only having the one day available, I made the most of it and nevertheless enjoyed the time in Maastricht tremendously.
I enjoyed the tour through the heart of Maastricht in an old school bus on a route along the old city walls, beautiful churches, the cozy Wyck district with buildings from the beginning of the 20th century, the new architecture district Céramique with the Bonnefantenmuseum, the Gouvernement (where the Maastricht Treaty was signed) and the St. Pietersberg.
Maastricht is not only one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands but also one of the oldest cities. Almost 1500 buildings throughout the center of Maastricht are protected.
In its cobbled old town is the Gothic-style church Sint Janskerk, and the Romanesque Basilica of St. Servatius houses, a significant collection of religious art. On the banks of the Maas River, bisecting the city, lies futuristic-looking Bonnefanten art museum. Maastricht is a great city with many historical structures and squares. But there’s one place in particular that cannot be missed visiting, and that’s “Vrijthof Square”. It has attracted people since medieval times, when the pilgrims came to see the grave of Saint Servatius. These days, Vrijthof is known for its outdoor cafes and events.
Vrijthof Square cafes and restaurants
View towards Vrijthof Square
My day-tour continued on a boat on the river "Maas" with a stopover at the Marl Caves of Maastricht/Grotten Sint-Pietersberg. The caves of Maastricht aren’t actually a natural phenomenon. Some 800 years ago, Limburg started digging for marl (sandstone and limestone). This resulted in a gigantic network of about 250 underground corridors in Maastricht and Valkenburg. In total, the caves span over hundreds of miles.
The boat sails over the famous river “Maas”, where the city also owes its name to; a unique part of history with picturesque scenery passing by.
Strolling around I discovered plenty of traditional shops offering unique local products, traditional dutch cheese for example. I much enjoyed the atmosphere, and relaxing over a cup of coffee in one of the lovely cafés is practically a must. While walking around the city, you can discover most unusual and original gastronomic facilities.
As Maastricht is located near the border with Belgium, culinary traditions of this country couldn’t have failed to influence the formation of local traditional gastronomy. Simple and hearty dishes are also very popular in Maastricht, so restaurants specializing in the regional cuisine will offer different variations of roasted meat with potatoes for example. Maastricht is one of the few cities in the country where it is possible to try many different varieties of Belgian beer as well. I decided for a cosy Italian restaurant and enjoyed a tasty vegetarian lasagne accompanied by a soft red wine.
Some impressions on my walk back to the hotel...
Surely a day to remember. I hope you enjoyed reliving my time in Maastricht with me.
Following are earlier travel blogs for you to enjoy:
https://www.enviroblog.net/post/travel-blog-team-member-on-tour-in-austria-part-1 - Lake Wolfgang near Salzburg in Austria
https://www.enviroblog.net/post/travel-blog-team-member-on-tour-in-austria-part-2 -Salzburg in Austria
https://www.enviroblog.net/post/travel-blog-team-member-on-tour-in-germany-archipelago-helgoland - Island of Helgoland in the North Sea in Germany
Holland Tourism - Official guide (viewed 22.09.2019)
Wikipedia, Maastricht Sep 2019 (viewed 23.09.2019)