Leiden, Liege and MaastrichtLeiden
Wow, it's been a few days! I made it to Leiden on Tuesday night. It was so great to see Joanna. She was one of the first people I met when I was in Guatemala. She is doing so well and her town and apartment are so quaint. I had low expectations of Leiden- when we were in Guatemala, she hadn't started her job there and wasn't excited about the town at all, but when I got there I loved it. The train ride to Leiden was also very scenic- lots and lots of windmills, daffodils and tulips. It's springtime in Holland!! I really wish I could have spent more time in Leiden. I think it's always healthy to experience the smaller, less touristy towns as well.
Me + Joanna in Leiden. (Notice the windmill in the background....)
Leiden at dusk
The Wednesday Market in Leiden
Joanna and I had a great visit. I went with her to the train station the next morning, Wednesday, and she went to Switzerland and I went to Liege, Belgium. I know now why nobody talks highly of Belgium. I was to meet Mike and Machado at the Liege cathedral at 3pm. (Mike lost his cell phone, otherwise this would have been a lot easier...)
So, I get to Liege and it's not really a tourist town. It was kinda scenic- a hilltown with lots of old, old, mostly underpreserved buildings but there are no tourist offices, maps or English speakers (kinda fun to practice my French that I haven't practiced for 8 years!) To make a long story short: what I got from my broken French conversation was that I was to get on the #4 bus to the city center. So I did. But I never found the city center. So I just got off randomly after my intuition said that something was wrong. I walked in whatever direction seemed "right." Magically, after a few blocks I saw a sign pointing to the city center. So I followed it and found one of the streets that Mike had said we were to meet on. By this time it was 2:55 and I had no idea that I was even going in the right direction... so I just hauled ass down the narrow Belgian street, again in what I thought was the "right" direction... eventually I came to a square, at the corner of Rue de Cathedral and Place de Cathedral. It was 3:03pm and I was sure Mike and Machado weren't going to be there. But they were. I still cannot believe that we all made it. Neither can they.
We all agreed that Liege was not a place we wanted to stay for long, so we took off for Maastricht, Holland. Navigating in their little rental car- Citroen C2 (smaller than a VW Beetle, especially with all of our stuff)- was just about as scientific as my process of finding them in Liege: "Oh, that looks like the right way." "Maybe we should turn here." "I think we are going in the right direction."
I don't know how we got to Maastricht, let alone OUT of Liege, but we did.
Downtown Maastricht was MUCH better than Liege. We found a really adorable hotel (WITH A BALCONY- ALWAYS a plus!) on the main square. The weather was gorgeous and everyone in the entire town was outside- riding their bikes, sitting at the outdoor cafes or walking around. We drank and ate at our hotel's outdoor dining area for hours- until the sun went down and it got cooler (and when the table of young girls left behind us....)
Nope, he's actually mexican.
Mike & I in Maastricht
Hotel de la Bourse
Balcony de la Bourse