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  • Day8

    Sep 27 - Maastricht

    September 27, 2019 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    This morning we docked about 9:00 a.m. in Maastricht (pronounced Mahs-treech), located on both sides of the Meuse (Dutch = Maas) River, adjacent to the border with Belgium. Maastricht was the first Dutch city to be liberated by the Allied Forces - Sep 13-14 of 1944. The city is well-known for the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 that formed the European Union and paved the way for the Euro.

    The sun is peeking out and it’s fairly warm - a good morning for a walking tour of this interesting city. We set out with Carla to explore. The city began when the Romans built a stone bridge across the Meuse here. The bridge, named for St. Servatius, is still standing, albeit it now has a section that can be raised to allow ships to pass. The city was controlled by many people over its turbulent history - the Romans, the Spanish, the French and the Germans. Maastricht joined the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815. All these cultures have left indelible marks on the city.

    The Basilica of Our Lady Catholic Church, built in the 11th century, dominates the city. It houses a beautiful shrine to Our Lady, Star of the Sea. Beneath the adjacent square, the remains of the original Roman settlement were unearthed.

    According to legend, the Armenian-born Saint Servatius, Bishop of Tongeren, died in Maastricht in 384 where he was interred along the Roman road. The Basilica of St. Servatius is an important pilgrimage destination. Located right beside the Basilica is the Church of St. John the Baptist, the city’s main Protestant church since 1632. It has a distinctive red tower - the red colour, until recently, was created using ox blood.

    We walked along the outline of the original city walls to Helpoort ("Hell's Gate"), an imposing gate with two towers, built shortly after 1230, the oldest city gate in the Netherlands.

    This is the hometown of André Rieu - he comes back frequently to put on concerts. Music lovers pack the main square to enjoy hearing their hometown idol.

    We stopped at Bishop’s Mill that continues to grind spelt into flour for the attached bakery using only water power. The smells from that bakery were heavenly.

    We stopped at a fabulous bookstore - Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore - it’s located in an old Gothic church built for the Dominican priests - and is now a union of the spiritual and the secular. I doubt there is a more spectacular bookstore anywhere. Although the altar has never been removed, this church will never again be used for the celebration of mass.

    Some of the most expensive shopping in all of the Netherlands is here in Maastricht - second only to that of Amsterdam. We stumble across a Hudson’s Bay store - it’s stocked very differently than the stores in Canada. We were relegated to exploring the Friday morning smarket outside the town hall with its riot of colours, sounds, smells and textures. There was everything- meats, fruits, vegetables, bread, clothing, leather goods, fabrics (I had to restrain myself) and of course, cell phone cases.

    It’s now time for a late lunch (1:00 p.m.) and time to set sail for our next destination and our next (third) country of this trip - Xanten in Germany. We will actually have some free time this afternoon. What to do???

    Had clear soup followed by warm strawberry cobbler for lunch. Fabulous. Pace yourself, Maureen.

    No pics yet - internet is simply too weak when we are sailing. Will try later.
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