Dwight’s been working long hours and every Saturday since we’ve been here. Saying that Schwelm is not the greatest little town would be about as accurate as saying that clowns are cuddly.
The other week he said he would try and leave work around 3-4 and we could travel somewhere, outside of Germany. Why you ask outside of Germany? Well, the entire country shuts down on Sunday. Seriously, everything is shut down. You get a few restaurants that stay open, but that’s it. It’s really weird and I don’t think I could get used to that. Anyways, I pulled up Google Maps and started looking at towns within driving distance for an overnight stay. I’d type in a city and see what all the sites said about them. I ended up choosing Maastricht, Netherlands after this pretty cool right up from the Lonely Planet.
“Spanish and Roman ruins, sophisticated food and drink, French and Belgian twists in the architecture, a shrugging off of the shackles of Dutch restraint – are we still in the Netherlands? Maastricht is a lively and energetic place, with appeal and allure out of proportion to its size. The people are irreverent, there are hordes of university students and the streets are steeped in history. No visit to the Netherlands is complete without a visit.”
Yup, with only a hour and half drive, we were going to go there. I found a cute little boutique hotel right in the middle of everything called Hampshire Design Hotel. It was funky, modern and very comfortable. The minute we got there we changed and headed out to find some food and see what it was like. The very first thing I noticed there were bikes everywhere and everyone was riding their bikes everywhere. Totally cool vibe.
The people are irreverent, there are hordes of university students and the streets are steeped in history.
Eventually we stumbled upon a great Spanish Tapas restaurant called Tapas y Mas. It was authentic tapas without a doubt. The best surprise was the Moroccan flavored ribs. Spain has a lot Moorish influence and most people don’t realize how it also part of Spanish food in the south.
After dinner went and found a little hole in the wall beer joint that was supposed to have over 100 craft beers from the Netherlands and Belgium called Cafe Take One. Oh. My. God. was this place amazing. Pete and Mary, the owners, still sling beers from 4 – 12, 5 days a week after doing this for 30 years. They ask you what you like and then they start giving you their choice. They will never lead you wrong. One of the cool things we learned was that they don’t pour the yeast bottom into the glass, they save it and put it in a shot glass to drink before your first sip. This is supposed to open up your palate and really appreciate the first sip.
Maastricht is a lively and energetic place, with appeal and allure out of proportion to its size.
Every single beer was fantastic! I hope it stays exactly like it is and the tourists don’t take it over. My favorite beer was a hoppy little craft beer from Belgium called Hopschepper.
The next morning we immediately got up and went for a BC (before coffee) run around town. It was beautiful and very quiet. This town really has a lot of character!
After our run, we decided to walk around to find some lunch. We went to a place that was very unique. Some of the patrons were still going strong from the night before. It was pretty entertaining.
We even found some fantastic waffles. The vendors were everywhere and people would line up for them. I don’t blame them because the aroma travels everywhere and well, they are waffles with chocolate, powdered sugar and whipped cream. There is something seriously wrong with a person who does not like this 😉
Maastricht is awesome! If you ever get to travel there, I highly recommend it. It is everything the Lonely Planet said and more. I’m definitely looking forward to the next time we go over there to eat, drink, run and ride our bikes around the Dutch countryside!