Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Maastricht: Holland’s Culture and Lifestyle City

The city of Maastricht lies in the river valley of the Maas where the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium meets.

See Maastricht on the red spot in the map.

Founded by the Romans in 20 AD and a former bishop diocese, this once upon a time fortified city has fought and survived countless assaults and sieges of armies and kings in the 16th to the late 17th centuries. After the defeat of Napoleon in the famous Waterloo battle, Maastricht in 1815 became a part of the united kingdom of the Netherlands.

Please check MY DUTCH FOTO ALBUM to see the beauty of Maastricht [foto’s are not arranged and labeled yet, so my excuses].

Points that makes Maastricht UN-DUTCH:

TOPOGRAPHY & CLIMATE – The area is not at all flat! They have small hills and valleys! The climate too is at least 2C to 3C warmer and dryer. Since the city is more inland, you do not have the ubiquituos pesky Dutch sea wind here. Arriving in Maastricht is like having a mild placebo effect of having left the Netherlands. Not quite but it felt more like France, haha.

I can’t leave Maastricht without posing by the River Maas. This medieval Sint Servaas Bridge is Maastricht’s emblem of recognition and was built in 1280.

LANGUAGE – The locals there speak a dialect called Limburgs named after the region it belongs to, Limburg. The official Dutch language they learn in school. I noticed too that they have this somewhat strange accent. I thought for a moment and wondered if it was Flemish accent, from the Dutch speaking Belgians in the Flanders region; but it was not, though quite close. But suffice to say, I got pretty much diverted and had a good chuckle on their pronunciation of the Dutch “e” as “i”. It reminds me of the linguistic clash back home, the Tagaloge” vs Visayani”. Hah!

Enigmatic arches in bricks and the St. Servaas Church. Colorful flowers hanging in the balcony.

WOMEN - A known fact: In Maastricht, the women are beautiful. Walking in the streets of the city is like being transplanted live in calye Madrid and rue de Paris. All those coiffed up women in exquisite sophisticated ensembles with their matching spruced up hondjes [little dogs], was such a breath of fresh air. I know I am being rude, but frankly, I thought they weren’t Dutch women at all. What gives, after living in the midst of the Y-chromosomed Dutch women, I was really taken aback by the display of glam. Have regretted not frocking myself up to the max! Damn.

The Helpoort [Hell’s Gate] dates back to 1229. It was perfect weather and more reason to sit under the sun in Vrijthof square.

SHOPS – Why well, of course they have better shops than the rest of the Netherlands. Otherwise where will the women buy their fine clothes? In fact the PC Hoofstraat in Amsterdam; where the nobles, socialites and celebrities in Holland shop, cannot compete! On that note, I am so annoyed because we don’t have anything like it in Utrecht. And Dutchman wasn’t much of a help too, he didn’t waste a minute in pointing THAT out to me. Argh. *claws at him*

Shopping is woman’s best sport. Cafes are all over Maastricht. Did you know that there are about 350 of them in this small city?

GOING OUT – Finding a table in let’s say the terras of Vrijthof is like looking for that libidinous itsy-bitsy T-back panty in a mountain load of laundry. For the record and comparison, this kind of dilemma never happens in other parts of Holland. I swear! Not even in good ‘ole Amsterdam. Like they say, the southern people know how to purely exonerate their zest and lust in living life to the fullest. They love going out, entertainment, dining out… ah, the perfect Burgundean lifestyle as the rest of the unswerving Dutch’s would say.

A running joke in the Netherlands: Maastricht is not anymore part of the country. It’s very un-Dutch. Now I know why!

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