Maastricht is on the River Maas (or Meuse if you prefer the French version), which forms a part of the Rhine delta. The city claims to be the oldest town in the Netherlands (haha – see the post about Nijmegen). But really, all these towns along the rivers have had occupants for thousands of years. They may not have had stone houses for a time, but you can bet people lived in these places. Many towns have Roman connections. Here’s a potted history of Maastricht, with reference to the debate about which town is ‘oldest’.
Be that as it may, Maastricht played host to the discussions where the first European Union documents were signed. And it’s the home of Andre Rieu. It’s a lovely town, with interesting cobblestoned streets and wide public squares. On a Sunday morning the restaurants were putting out the chairs ready for the afternoon crowds. Vendors set up their stalls as the church bells pealed. Pete and I arrived at the central square just as the cafes were opening up. This was important, as we both craved a visit to the little room, so we bought a cup of coffee at a cafe. It was the usual strong Dutch brew, served black with a little plastic container of milk on the side, and a biscuit. The loos were nice, too.
We went looking for a supermarket to buy some more aspirin and some brown Listerine. Or if we couldn’t get brown, then at least some real strength blue. (It’s a mouthwash). After we’d tried a few stores, we gave up and asked. Just about everyone in Holland speaks at least a little English. A nice young lady pointed us at a supermarket. But it seems Europeans don’t like brown Listerine. They only stocked the blue kind. And we never did find the litre bottles we buy at home – 500ml only.
We were only here for four or five hours, but it was pleasant wandering around enjoying the sunshine. The ship sailed after lunch. The captain carried out a spectacular 180 degree turn in the middle of the river (the locals turned out to watch) and then we made our way towards Germany on the narrow Maas canal.
Next stop Duisburg.