OK, trick question. Look at this photo and tell me where it was taken.
Nope, not France.
Not Belgium either.
This cup of coffee was my way of saying good-bye to the Netherlands (within an hour of drinking it, I was on my way to Belgium by train), although ironically it looks less like a Dutch cup of coffee than any I had all last summer. And that’s because I was in Maastricht.
When it came time to say good-bye to my German friends, I headed west, and decided to break my journey, so to speak, in Maastricht. I wanted to spend one last night in Holland. And I had just enough time for a long, exploratory walk in the late summer evening, and a whirlwind tour the next morning of three churches, two of which are still in use, and one which has been converted into the most beautiful bookstore I have ever seen.
Maastricht has a distinct look that sets it apart from the rest of the Netherlands. It is next door to Aachen, in that same tiny little corner of Europe where three countries come together. This part of Holland has been occupied by the Romans, the Spanish, the Prussians, the Austrians, and the French. The last time the French were here, a little general by the name of Napoleon was in control of the region.
I knew even before I arrived in Maastricht that 24 hours would not do the city justice, but I stopped in anyways. Next time, I will be sure to stay long enough for a proper visit.
Oh, and a bit of trivia that you might find interesting, given all the speculation about the future of the European Union: it was 25 years ago this year that the Maastricht Treaty was signed (in Maastricht, of course) by 12 European nations to indicate their intent to create an economic and monetary union.