Maastricht & Nijmegen
Trip Start Sep 11, 2008
23Trip End Dec 19, 2008
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This weekend was one of fascination and relaxation. On Friday, my art history teacher took a group of us to the city of Maastricht, one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. Maastricht is both quaint and majestically medieval, but even better than the aesthetics is the fascinating history behind the stunning city. Had we ventured here alone, we would only have marveled at its beauty, but thanks to Rob Duckers (our art teacher; pronounced Dookers), we gawked at the structures because of their aesthetics and because of their stories. He is a curator of some museums and thus full of information that other tourists are not privileged to obtain. Also, the fact that he paid for our coffees, lunches, and drinks made the trip even more worthwhile. (We tried, we really did, but he refused our shiny Euros each time!)
We were officially in Maastricht after going through a brick medieval archway called "Hell's Gate" that was attached to the city walls and fortifications
The second church was especially enthralling. This gothic church is named after Saint Servatius, who was the first bishop of Maastricht. It is the only church in the Netherlands to be built over the grave of a Saint. Unlike the first church, this one had several large windows, providing for lots of light. The décor was even more impressive and the space even larger. Because Duckers is a curator, we were allowed into certain areas, such as the east-crypt, which are generally not open to the public. Every single painting, engraving, and decoration had a story behind it, and we got to hear them all thanks to our fabulous teacher. For example, did you know that in the early centuries, Moses was depicted with horns on his head because there was a mistranslation into the gospel -"Moses' face was radiant" was mistranslated into "Moses' face had horns" or something along those lines. So, there was a statue in this church of Moses with horns! After exploring the church itself, we went to the attached museum of religious relics. We saw Mary Magdalene's skull, the bone of Doubting Thomas' arm, and pieces of wood from Jesus' cross. Now, it's nearly impossible to prove if these artifacts are the true relics that they claim to be because they are so old. Either way, it was amazing to see. Most of the relics were contained in gold and jewel-studded vessels. I felt as if I had walked into a huge treasure chest.
We ended the excursion with drinks and "bitter balls" (delicious appetizer) at a café
Contrary to what my father believes, I am actually learning and doing work along with my travels. All four of my classes are very interesting. True, aside from plenty of reading, my workload is rather light at the time. Most of my classes seem to relate to one another, and each enriches my travels. Each of my professors is from a different area in Europe -Germany, Netherlands, Poland, and Belgium -and I enjoy each of them as well. I take plenty of notes and pay close attention everyday. So there, Dad!
I realize I haven't discussed much of what goes on during the week. Well, to be blunt, not much. When I'm not in class during the day, I'm either doing work for classes or relaxing in the room. Wednesday night is "American Night" at the bar in town. My mom asked me, "What is American Night? Apple pie?" That would be delicious, but there's no pie involved. It's simply a fun night at the bar when they play American music. The majority of my Castlemates congregate on one side of the room while a handful of Dutch boys hover in the corner watching us. These boys, along with 95% of the Dutch males we've seen, wear their hair spiked up with dollops of gel -circa 1990's
This was a rather long update! If you've made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read it all! Next weekend we go to Paris -I'm very excited about this since I can sort of speak French.
Love and miss you all!!
Tot ziens, (Goodbye),