Last saturday my friends and I decided to go to Maastricht. From Leuven is really easy to go there and we thought it would be exciting to go to the Netherlands and visit such an important city. Troughout the history of the European Union there have been a large number of important cities where took place european conferences, meetings and treaties. Maastricht was the city where the European Community change its name to European Union as we know today. It was the first time that the member-state governments and representatives talked about an "european citizenship" and they also discussed about vital issues like judicial cooperation, subsidiarity and monetary union.
As a european citizens we wanted to come to Maastricht and see what happen with the city to had been chosen for the Treaty. In fact, there's nothing really different or special there but it's a nice city to visit. I don't want to write as a guide, because the article on wikipedia about the city has a lot of useful information. I'm thinking about how was our day there, how we feel there and what we enjoyed most. Firstly, I have to say that I feel really proud that we can go by train to the next country without no border control, we just had to go to Liège and take another train and ultimately we just spend an hour and a half to arrive to Maastricht. It was probably the coldest day I've ever had since I arrived to Belgium. The city it's not so far but I could really feel the temperature falling down. We haven't really planned the trip so we went from the Station (it's a nice building but I prefer Antwerpen station) to the Tourist Office and we decided to do a walk tour. It was getting colder during the morning and we didn't see the sun in the hole day so we walked around the city and we could really enjoy some sightseeings like the Helpoort or the Basilica of Our Lady. Through city streets I found some little charming shops with curious gift or home decoration items.
The white cloudy sky started to rain each half an hour, but we finished our walking tour around a nice animal park, where I could feel sorrounded by nature. Now I know why people say that the Netherlands means green and feeling peaceful... because you are in a city and in the forest at the same time, and that's great! You can choose what you prefer every day. I'm sure that it would have been interesting to go there in a weekday because normally it's full of students and, as happens in Leuven, the city changes a lot. But it was definetly alive and full of people in the shopping centre, where we could find a nice and cheap restaurant to rest a bit.
One of the most funny and surprising place was a bookshop which was inside a church. I'm not sure about the name of the street but I think it's quite famous. Inside the big religious building I could find amounts of books in different languages
What I found really interesting was all people speaking Dutch, I couldn't really understand them but I knew at least some words from the language course and I hope it will be useful in the future. Maastricht was rainy all the afternoon and we spend some time in the big Market, in the main city centre, plenty of food stalls (sweet snacks or the typical Frituur, which means fries and not really healthy things... but they tast always good, that's the problem!) But I think that the most strange and new experience was to have a warm chocolademelk (hot chocolate) in a Coffee Shop. Yes, a dutch Coffee Shop, and I just have to say that they ask us for our ID card. I'm not joint smoker and anything like that but it was surprising to stay there. That means also the Netherlands. And I was talking with a friend from Norway about the politics in this country, because there is allowed so much things that normally are forbidden in european countries (most people know about the famous red district in Amsterdam).
Despite the cold and the rain we enjoyed our trip to Maastricht and it made me feel different. I could discover a small part of one of the powerful european countries and I would like to know more about that. It's unlike any other place I have visit so far. And it's attractive and, of course, it smells a bit different :)
Oh, the pictures will be uploaded soon! Blogger is doing maintenance!