Maastricht is commonly held to be one of the loveliest cities in the Netherlands, and Limburg is the only place with hills, so when Dutch Boy got a night in one of a chain of hotels as his Christmas gift from work (he actually got to choose out of a catalog), we knew where we wanted to go – Houthem, a small village two train stops from Maastricht. We reserved for Saturday night and then added Friday at the last minute as it dawned on us that otherwise we’d certainly get there too late to see anything on Saturday given our normal travel patterns.
As it was, we planned our departure to coincide with Sprocket’s bedtime both to let him sleep in the car and to avoid the afternoon/evening traffic jams. After only a few scenic detours due to some interesting directions from Google maps, we got there close to 11 pm and went to bed pretty soon after that.
Saturday morning, after a nice buffet breakfast with a gaggle of bridge players playing a tournament at the hotel, we headed into Maastricht. We bought two pamphlets with walking tours from the tourist info booth, with plans to do both the Sightseeing Walk through the Old City Centre and the Fortifications Tour, but only got halfway through the second one before it got late and cold and Sprocket got entirely fed up. But it’s true, Maastricht is a lovely, lovely place. It really felt like we were in a different country though, between the lack of canals, the wooded feel, the actual changes in elevation and a somewhat different architectural style.
The cold tired Sprocket right out and he went right to sleep for the night when we got back to the hotel. After being informed by a woman we met on the train that there actually weren’t any good restaurants in the village, Dutch Boy successfully found pizza in a nearby touristy town.
In the morning, after another nice brekkie with the bridge players, we braved the cold and intermittent snow to go wander in the woods and actually climb a hill! (not much by BC standards, but I’ll take what I can get) Quite a nice little walk, after which we warmed up with hot chocolate in the hotel restaurant before heading off for consecutive visits with Dutch Boy’s grandparents, who live close to where we were, and his parents (and dinner!) before heading home with an again sleeping Sprocket.
For pictures of the weekend, click here or on the photo below: