I love Maastricht. It’s nice. Oh, and it’s expensive. But maybe that’s just me being spoiled by the Ukranian standards I experienced last summer. The prices are actually pretty normal for the Netherlands. Maybe that’s the reason why I never take a holiday in the Netherlands. Even so, I loved every minute of my visit to Maastricht last weekend. I felt like somewhere I had crossed the border into Belgium or Germany. But this is also part of the Netherlands and it made me realize how diverse my little country is. In this article a short list of all the things I loved in Maastricht. And in case you have one to add to the list, let me know in the comments.
Love it: the Rechtstraat
One of the first neighbourhoods you’ll see when you arrive by train in Maastricht is the Wyck. And that’s not pronounced as ‘wijk’ but as ‘wiek’. Something I only learned after my trip. Wyck is truly a great area, because it’s filled with lovely restaurants. Especially the street ‘Rechtstraat‘ has several nice cafes and restaurants. You can come here for Spanish tapas, Thai curry or the juicy hamburgers at ‘Burgerlijk’. If you want to go local, you can do that at Cafe Ceramique and order some ‘zuurvlees’ (sour beef stew). They also have a vegetarian option! I’m not a huge fan of the Dutch cuisine, so I chose an Indonesian restaurant called Gadjah Mas. And I didn’t regret it. Loved every bit of the vegetarian rice table!
Love it: Dominican church
Bookstores are nice. I love browsing and snooping in the history section. Sadly a lot of bookstores had to close these last years, because a lot of people did what I did. They browsed, but they didn’t buy anything. Or they bought it online. In Maastricht they came up with a solution for this. Why not create a one of a kind bookstore no one has ever seen before? And so they did. In 2006 Dominican opened a bookstore inside an old Dominican church. It was an instant success. I mean, it’s not every day you get to pick a book while standing on empty graves and looking at some old frescos on the wall. Moreover, this ‘book church’ has a cafe right up on the choir. So you can take a break and get a cup of coffee before going back to browsing. A funny detail, the seating area in the middle of the choir is shaped like a cross as a reference to the location.
Love it: the Jekerkwartier
The Jekerkwartier (Jeker Quarter) is an amazing historical neighbourhood right in the centre of Maastricht. The name is a reference to the river ‘Jeker’ that runs right through it. The area has a lot of characteristic streets, cute houses and a couple of impressive medieval fortifications. Take for instance the ‘Lang Grachtje’ and the ‘Klein Grachtje’, two streets where you can find parts of the first city wall dating back to the thirteenth century. I say first, because two centuries later the city built a second city wall as Maastricht was expanding and it had to protect itself from attacks. Even Wyck got its own city wall. The city wall in the Jekerkwartier is still in pretty good shape, considering it has been standing there for almost 900 years. Originally the wall had a length of 2,5 kilometer and was connected by 7 gates. Only one of these gates is left nowadays: the Hell Gate. It’s now the oldest gate of the Netherlands. You would think the gate had an exciting story, but sadly there isn’t. It’s named after a nearby forgery or bakery that was called ‘In den helle’. Of course, you’re free to create your own exciting story.
Love it: the ‘vlaai’
Of course, you cannot leave Maastricht without eating ‘vlaai’. And I’m a real cake lover, so I was thrilled to get my hands on some vlaai. I chose to eat at the Bishop’s mill in the centre. This is an old bakery that uses the power of an eleventh-century water mill to grind spelt. The bakery prepares 100% spelt bread and different flavours of vlaai. But if you’re more in the mood for a carrot cake or a brownie cupcake, you can also head over to cafe Taart. A great cafe with a homely feel and a good selection of pies.
Interested in the history of Maastricht? Then I recommend taking a Free Walking Tour. These tours take place every weekend between 1 November and 1 April. It’s free, they’re in Dutch and English and the tour guide will take to all the great neighbourhoods. I definitely recommend taking this tour!
Did you ever consider visiting Maastricht?