Just over the Border into the Netherlands

Trip Start Dec 22, 2010
Trip End Jan 10, 2011

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Flag of Netherlands  , Limburg,
Friday, January 7, 2011

After breakfast this morning, Josef (from the chocolate museum) stopped by and brought us a big box of various chocolates. All different types including some made from camel milk that he obtained when he did a 4 week tour in Dubai Egypt to study their chocolate.  We showed him some pictures of Alaska and he wants to make plans to come to Alaska for moose hunting someday.  We would certainly love to show him our beautiful state. He is a very nice gentleman and he makes some really great chocolate too!

Since we wouldn't be leaving for Paris until very late tonight (12:30 am actually) Johanna, Robert and I decided to take a drive over to the Netherlands for the day.  Our destination was Maastricht which is just over the border from Germany and took a little over an hour to reach. 

We stopped, or rather we turned around and drove back again, to get a picture of the sign welcoming us to the Netherlands. We also found a sign that said "100% Bob" so we had to get a picture of Robert in front of it. We are unsure of its actually meaning in Dutch, but it was still fun. I did see a lot of windmills, not exactly the kind that the Netherlands (Holland) is typically associated with. These were huge windmills with three blades used for generating energy.  They were actually quite fascinating to watch.

Our first stop was at a chapel called Saint Theresiaplein. I was able to get some pictures of the outside and of a cemetery beside it, but unfortunately it was closed so I could not get any pictures of the inside. 

We were having some trouble finding the center of town, so we stopped at a quaint little meat market to ask for directions.  The nice lady there informed us we were much better off leaving our car there in the parking lot and taking a bus. This way we wouldn’t have to find and pay for parking. We took her advice and jumped on the next bus.  By the time we got to the center, we decided it was time for some lunch so we stopped at a place called Shacksons.  It was a cute place with older pink booths and lots of fun things on the walls.  The dining area was on the second floor which offered a great view of the market square below. Johanna insisted that we try the “special French fries” which she said was a specialty here in the Netherlands.  This consisted of French fries covered with a mixture of catsup, mayo and onions.  Robert and I also had some sausage with the same toppings.  I have to admit, the combo was rather tasty.

Our next stop took us to a large cathedral called St. Servaas. The gentleman at the entrance informed us this location was a church and treasury. Treasury in this instance meaning the holding place of many treasures.  It was a very old structure with some rather unusual items.  One room held several busts of head carvings with a piece of jawbone and teeth in a small glass fronted space in each one.  As none of us could read Dutch, we could only assume the jawbones belonged to the persons represented by the busts.  There were also multiple small statues in the room each with a small piece of bone in them.  There was one statue of someone named H. Theodadus, the Bishop of Maastricht year 610. The statue depicted a man with a knife through his head. We all wondered if this was to show the way he died. 

Then we took a walk around the market square and did a little shopping for a souvenir. Afterward we stopped in a local grocery to find some pudding that is only in the Netherlands which Rudi asked Johanna to bring home for him. This pudding is in a container like a milk carton and is chocolate and vanilla mixed. Guess we will have to try it.

We were looking for a cache but since none of us could read the description written in Dutch, we were having a difficult time. We stopped in a kitchen supply store to ask a question about it and it turned out that the kitchen supply store was once a bank and the cache was hidden in the old safe in the safety deposit box #16.  The lady who worked there knew about the cache and led us downstairs to the old safe. We really lucked out in asking her about it.

Oh, and here is a little bit of information I learned about the Netherlands. It seems marijuana is completely legal here.  They even have cafes where you can just go and order various types right off the menu. Or if you don’t want to go to the café, you can just stop by a vending machine and it will come right to you through a tube system.  I learned about this from Johanna and from a family who is hosting a student from another country and wouldn’t let him go with friends to the Netherlands because of this.  Interesting tidbit. Also, if you look for a mug or stein here, you will find them with Netherlands and the marijuana leaf right on them like it is the state flower or something. Anyway…..

Martina was planning some dinner for us, so we started back to the house. We made our way back to the bus and our car, but were having some trouble finding our way out of the town and back to the main highway.  We considered stopping to ask for directions and thought it would be quite funny to say, "Can you tell us how to get to Germany?" We ended up turning on Robert's GPS and having it point us toward Johanna's house and just kept driving in that direction until we found the highway back. It took us a few turns but we were eventually successful. We will have a late dinner and then pack up our things to meet the bus at 12:30 am to drive to Paris. We plan to sleep on the bus, we’ll see how that goes……….
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