Thursday, March 29, 2007

Leiden, Liege and Maastricht

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....)

Adorable Leiden!

Leiden at dusk

The Wednesday Market in Leiden

Liege, Belgium
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.

Maastricht, Holland
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


At 9:01 AM, March 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi- You certainly do have friends in the right places. How wonderful that you went to Guatemala and now have these lasting friendships abroad. As organized as you are, I'm sure winging it to find Mike and Machado was harry but it will make a memory. Your intuition seemed to work well.
AAH! Springtime in Holland-it sounds awesome.
Love Grandma

At 1:00 PM, March 29, 2007, Anonymous Comma-Q said...

hey Super!

The Q + Deana received your postcard from Berlin today (3/29). From the sounds of things you're having a fine time - I'd personally like to see more pictures.
So you're traveling alone? are going to be ok? (i'm kidding, stay calm). Thanks for providing the running commentary, the virtual vacation is fun. Ben+crew

At 11:08 PM, March 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ate at Ling Garden tonight.

-- Andrew

At 9:15 AM, March 30, 2007, Blogger nicole said...

I know!! I planned on posting photos, but it's too hard when it takes so much time and there is no USB port on the cafe computers! Plus- I have soooo many photos- I must have 500 now! I will post relevant photos when I get back. Sorry! I ate falafel on the street. Best falafel I've ever had.


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