More Than Just Where a Treaty Was Signed: Charming Maastricht

Onze-Lieve-Vrouweval, Maastricht, The Netherlands, Meuse River, Maas, architecture, history, city walls, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel, city walls,

The charming town of Maastricht sits in the “tear drop” southeastern corner of The Netherlands by the Meuse River (“Maas” in Dutch, hence the town name). a stone’s throw from Belgium and a hard ball kick from Germany, as it were.  The town is known these days more because of the European union project since Maastricht is were the sane-named treaty launching the European Union was signed here in 1992.

I went to visit a college friend who was residing there as an ex-pat because I happened to be working in Frankfurt at the time.   The town is an old town, settled by the Romans who built a bridge across the Meuse River in the 1st century AD.    Maastricht also sat an an important point in Charlemagne’s empire around the 9th century AD which later evolved to the Holy Roman Empire.   The city has been ruled by French, Spanish, German, dukes, princes, bishops, and, of course the Dutch.  The city almost ended up in Belgium when Belgium separated from the United Kingdom of The Netherlands in the 1830s.  Finally, it was the first Dutch city to be liberated by the Allies in WWII.  All this to say that, though you may not know much about Maastricht as me before I went, it is an old and quite historical place.

I found the locals to be quite friendly.  I recall how the old owner of a pub my friend frequented told me when we went there to hang out and have a beer that he loved Americans because they liberated his town from the Nazis.  This was over 50 yrs after the fact and he must have been a kid when it happened but the feeling was fresh and strong.

The town is quaint and beautiful, what other adjectives can I use?  Walk its streets as does everyone there and shop or just look around )like in the high-end Stokstraat street).  Admire the architecture and details (like what they used to joist furniture and other stuff up to higher stories of the buildings).

Going up the 70m tall red bell tower of the Protestant Church of St. John’s (St. Jan) is a must.  St. John (as in St. John the Baptist) was built in Gothic style around the 12th and 13th century and it provides great views of the town below and the neighboring Roman Catholic Basilica of St. Servatius (St. Servaas) with its twin towers, built on the site where the saint was buried in Romanesque style also around the 11th and 12th century.  Walk around their grounds and then end up in Vrijthof Square, visiting a museum or hanging out a café.

I hope that more people venture beyond ever-popular Amsterdam to discover towns like Maastricht to get a more complete view of The Netherlands.  Take a look at the gallery of photos and tell me what you think!  Click on a photo to enlarge it

 

Great Drive Series – Frankfurt to Maastricht

Germany, drive, church, mountain, river, photo, Canon EOS Rebel,

Among the many ways to travel and explore, few things beat driving around yourself, whether it be Tuscany, New Zealand or across the U.S., there is a freedom that comes with being on your own, able to stop at will for a photo, to rest or… to relief yourself (yes, I said it …).

I have done some great drives and I thought I’d start a short series on these drives and, hopefully, hear back from you on your own favorite drives along the way.

Today, I share my drive to/from Maastricht, The Netherlands and Frankfurt, Germany over a dozen years ago.  I was in Frankfurt for business for a few weeks and decided to visit a college friend who was an ex-pat in Maastricht.  I rented my car in Frankfurt and made my way, in about 3 hrs, to Maastricht on the famous autobahn.  The autobahn between some cities in Germany fails to meet the wild expectations we have in the U.S. about fast speeds as there is too much vehicular traffic on some of the routes.  But some parts of the route I took where free and clear just for me.  That and along the Mercedes-Benz upgrade they gave me were the perfect pairing for a FUN drive.  On the outbound leg of the trip, I drove northwest towards Bonn and Cologne (Köln) on the A3 and then west on the A4 past Aachen straight into Maastricht.  I wish I had had time to explore Aachen, having been a residence of Charlemagne and where many Holy Roman Emperors were crowned back in the day.  For that matter also Cologne and Bonn.  So much too see and so little time…

Maastricht, Frankfurt, drive, map, A3, A4, autobahn, Germany, travel

The outbound route I took

On the way back I took a different route based on my friend’s suggestion as the landscape would be much more rewarding.  It was indeed!  I don’t recall the details of the route (which cut at some point across the incredible Mosel River) but maybe someone will recognize some of the locales from the photos and let me know more precisely where I went through!

Germany, drive, church, mountain, river, photo, Canon EOS Rebel, Germany, drive, mountain, river, photo, Canon EOS Rebel, Germany, drive, mountain, river, photo, Canon EOS Rebel,

I highly recommend taking the “road less traveled”.  In this case, not the A3!   Western Germany, near the border with Luxembourg and France, is simply a beautiful place to visit, explore and drive.  Get lost, take your time, and sample this area!

 

%d bloggers like this: