Day 20: Netherlands, Maastricht

One of the other reasons we love Maastricht so much, besides the people, the culture, Andre Rieu and the bruin cafes, is being able to cycle safely everywhere. We love to get our trusty steeds out and take to the roads with the wind blowing through our hair (well, some of us anyway!!).

We had 3 requirements for this visit.

1) to go to our favourite Bruin Café, De Konijnspiep (The Rabbit Pipe/Warren), for a jenever (or maybe 2)

2) to find a new Bruin Café

3) to go to De Bobbel restaurant for mussels

We left after a warming lunch of a lovely homemade Durban Curry under our belts, made with a shoulder of lamb that I’d been saving for just such an occasion, and served with cauliflower rice and sambals (the gorgeous Mr T’s speciality – yes! he can cook…..he just doesn’t).

The Netherlands is such a civilised country for cycling – there are specific cycle paths or mini roads alongside most roads with their own road markings – centre lines, stop and yield signs – and even specific traffic lights. In town where the roads are shared by trucks, busses, cars, scooters, cyclist and pedestrians, it’s still the same. Cyclist, in fact, seem to take priority as vehicles are happy to coast along behind them before finding a safe place to go around, or waiting for them to turn off. There’s no red faced motorists swearing at them, no waving fists or abuse, hooting or driving passed as close as possible to try and scare them. Cyclist ride 2 chatting next to each other whilst vehicles drive patiently behind them.

In town there are plenty of places to park your bikes, including secure lockups costing the princely sum of ….nothing! Just deposit your bike there, check it in, hang onto your ticket and collect to go home. Which is exactly what we did.

Wednesdays & Fridays is market days in Maastricht so we were lucky enough to be here on the right day. Having been before, we set ourselves the onerous task of just wandering around before “suddenly” finding ourselves at the door of De Knijnspiep or The Rabbit Pipe, our favourite bruin cafe. Well, it would have been rude not to go in for a visit. And to have a jenever ….. which turned into 2. Water chasers for me and lager chasers for the gorgeous Mr T.

It really is a very quaint and eclectic pub but there’s always fabulous music playing quietly in the background and we weren’t disappointed.

Time for tea/supper (delete as appropriate!) as the afternoon “beer” buzz set in and we drifted back to the market for some seafood to soak up the alcohol. Fresh (yes, raw!) herrings and onions for me, my absolute favourite and I’m in good company, because a favourite of the Dutch as well! Deep fried prawns and allioli for himself.

And we drifted off to find a new bruin cafe, Cafe de Pieter, close to Basiliek van Onze-Lieve-Vrouw. Also quaint, also filled with locals, sand on the wooden floors, an upright piano in the corner and, of course, an ice cold bottle of Jenever for our pleasure.

Several relaxed hours later with the buzz topped up, we unlocked our bikes and made our way to requirement no. 3, De Bobbel, for moule frites.

We had been blown away last year by this particular restaurant and their mussels and we have spent months raving about them and hankering after them. But in the interim time, although the waitress has remained the same, the restaurant just as fabulous, the chef has changed …..and the mussels have lost their lustre. They were really good, don’t get me wrong and we had a great meal, they were just no longer outstanding…..

Ah well, such is life on the road. Kissing a few frogs just makes the princes that much more worthwhile.

Funny sights around Maastricht

Sights around Maastricht

PS: For a bit more touristy information about Maastricht, use the search option to the right and search for Maastricht for our 2017 visit.

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