When you think of The Netherlands (which is not Holland, but we´ll talk about that later) you might probably think of hectic Amsterdam at first, then maybe some tulips, cheese and wooden shoes. And although you’re not really mistaken, there is a whole lot more to see in this stunning country.
As you go south, things begin to change; the flatness isn’t so flat and the dutchness isn’t as dutch; if we go very south, all the way to Limburg, we will find a bit more of a mixed culture, due to the fact that this province is situated literally in between Germany and Belgium.
Ten years ago, I had the chance to live in the very, very south, where they mostly speak with a soft G, as you might imagine the dutch language usually sounds kind of rough, but not here; depending on which border is closer, either the German or the Belgian, people have different accents and even dialects that can totally change only by kilometers of distance. I still find this quite thrilling. I wanted to tell you this first, because if you go to South Limburg you will probably not notice all of this when you are a regular tourist, but if you pay attention, this might even change the way you experience the trip.
There are many, many places in the South of Limburg but the biggest city around and the capital of the province is Maastricht. Maastricht is one of the oldest and historical cities in the country; as soon as you get there, you will kind of have the feeling to be taken back in time.
This used to be my favorite city, before I met Utrecht. But a few days ago when I went back to Maastricht, I instantly remembered why I used to love it so much. If you are crazy about the Parisian style and all things pretty, but also like the Dutch essence, then this is the place.
Let’s begin somewhere
We will begin the tour at the train station; I believe that even if you don’t go there by train, it is quite worth it having this place as a start point, because of the view (PS, nowadays it is being renewed, but still, the surroundings are quite cool).
This time I had company, so we booked the coolest hotel right in front of the station. If you like the easy, hipster, modern concept hotel you’ll love Ka Boom. Their amazing style combines comfort and looks; besides, their prices are quite reasonable.
Walk through Stationsstraat (as the name says it: Station Street) where you might have the feeling of being in a cozy, charming neighborhood of Paris. You’ll pass some fancy stores like Hermés, and some other normal, cute stores, so feel free to do some window-shopping… or just go for it. I must confess, the first thing that charmed me was the amazing shopping on this city, so if you are also into shopping, believe me, you will adore this place.
So, besides the shops you will find yourself walking next to some adorable cafés and elegant restaurants. For the true gourmands, make sure to have a good search beforehand if you`ll like to indulge yourselves with amazing dinner.
We had the most special and delicious meals at Harry’s. This place is effortlessly graceful, and the menu is just perfect. Make sure you reserve on time so you won’t miss it.
The other side of the bridge
Continue the tour through the street and don’t hesitate to stop and take pictures. At the end you will find the Sint Servaarsbrug, the bridge that will connect you to the very center.
I would advice you to stop and take a look before you immerse yourself downtown, take a detour to your left all the way to the Stadspark, try to make a nice walk around it all and appreciate some of the Onze-Lieve-Vrowewal, is exactly where you will appreciate the clash between the medieval remains of the city with the prettiness of the Jeker river ‘s neighborhood and the soothing calm of the nature getting along with the city life.
When you finish the tour it will be a good idea to take a nice break, and what could be more perfect than trying the authentic Limburgse Vlaai (the most amazing pie you’ve ever eaten) made right where the mill is? At De Bisschops Molen you will have the chance to see how the mill works and you will be able to try freshly baked products made with the very same flour grinded in there.
You can now proceed to the city center, which is actually pretty much already where you are. Feel free to get lost within the small streets; you will find the most amazing and picturesque corners, buildings and of course shops.
Eventually, you will arrive to de Vrijthof, which is the main plain and the very heart of the city. Take your time to take a good look around, the plain is guarded by a couple of very different churches and it faces off to a street full of cafés and terraces that will definitely invite you to sit and contemplate the beauty of it for quite a while.
If you are like me, one who loves and appreciates fashion, when you are in Maastricht be observant enough, the true locals have a very unique sense of style. It is a mix of elegance and preppy-ness with the carefree flare that really pops up from us regular mortals.
To the Market
As this is only a tiny idea of a tour, I will leave you guys at the Markt, where the main attraction is the beautiful building of the City Hall right in the middle of a huge plain full of (yet again) quite some stores, cafés and restaurants.
Most Wednesdays and Fridays the Markt becomes a real market, where a big amount of stands surround the City Hall. Fresh fish, cheese and flowers are to be found, among of course, many other interesting products.