“He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him.”— Dutch Proverb
After a grueling 21 hours of flying, layovers, and shuttles, I finally made it! Maastricht is by far one of the cutest cities I’ve ever seen! I promise I’ll post better pictures once I actually spend more time in the city, but the way that the city squares and cobblestone roads are lit up by beautiful holiday lights and open terrace restaurant/bars is unlike anything I have seen in my life!
During my first full day I tried pudding vlaai and stroopwafels, two Maastricht delicacies. I was jet-lagged and half-awake the entire day, so I barely took any pictures (I promise to do better). Vlaai is essentially pie, and the one I got to eat for breakfast today was custard-filled (or as the Dutch call it- pudding). It was a lot lighter than I thought it was going to be, and the taste of the pudding reminded me a little bit of the Chinese dimsum custard tarts.
In the afternoon, we also went through the Maastricht caves (see the pictures above). The caves are actually a massive network of underground limestone and flint tunnels that helped people safely travel and live during world wars. The walls of the caves were etched with charcoal paintings and advertisements that have although have withstood several decades, can be easily wiped away with one touch. The limestone that the caves were made up of kept the underground caves super humid and dark, which apparently is where both mushrooms and bats thrive. The bats were hibernating since it’s winter here, but they were only the size of a small mouse, and maybe the size of an adult hand with its wings extended. There’s also a whole trail above the caves that people picnic at, which I can’t wait to discover when it’s warmer.
Some of the things that I have learned about the Netherlands/ Europe so far:
- People like to take their time, especially with meals. Waiters never bring the tab to your table; you have to go up and ask for the tab yourself.
- Staying hydrated is not a thing; people drink alcohol in place of water. I bring my water everywhere and always order water at restaurants out of habit, which nobody else does. One of my friends ordered water at a restaurant and it ended up costing more than my other friend’s soda!
- Everyone really does speak English (Thank God!) I exude foreigner vibes so people have been very nice and patient with me.
- Roads in the Netherlands are super narrow because there are bike lanes and people park on sidewalks and not the streets (which I learned when I thought a car was coming for me).
School hasn’t started yet, so I still have quite a bit of time to continue navigating my way around!