Mornings have been difficult to adjust to while here in Maastricht. I’ve been finding myself waking up much later than when I would normally be waking, usually around 10am. With that, there is a 7 hour time difference between home in Kansas City and the Netherlands; so I’m still feeling like it’s 3am and I need to be in a deep sleep, despite the sun shining fine and bright through my window.
But with my first full day of living in Avant Garde, I decided to take the opportunity of not needing to accomplish anything by walking through the whole of Maastricht. My goal was to travel by foot all the way to Zuyd Hogeschool and back to Avant Garde, seeing as many sights as possible along my journey. At the time of my departure, I had a bus map that showed the routes of all the city buses, but it was little good in the way of finding specific streets and other small locations. Elsbeth had helped me the day before with marking certain locations on the map, such as that of Zuyd, the Station, and the supermarket we had visited the day before. With my backpack strapped on and bus map in hand, I set out for the center of Maastricht!
The walk from Avant Garde to the Station is a long walk for sure, covering a vast distance, but with little distractions to hinder my journey, it felt fairly brisk. I at first wasn’t too sure of the location of the Station, I had only the vague idea of where it was located from the few times I rode the bus. But my intuition of the Station’s location proved to be correct, so I knew immediately where I needed to head to cross the Maas.
The day of my walk turned out to be very beautiful, the skies barely cloudy and the sun shining brightly. Seeing the river in full sunlight was absolutely splendid; the coloration of the water was nowhere near as dark as what the Missouri River is at home, but not perfectly clear either.Still quite a beauty to behold.
I made my over the river and through the shopping district; I had little interest in seeing all the shops, they’re not anymore different than what can be found on the Plaza or Zona Rosa. What I was really interested in seeing was the Vrijthof – the main square of Maastricht if you caught it in the last blog post of mine. Rather than it being blocked off, the whole of the square was finally open, which proved to be totally wicked. Large buildings encircled one portion of the square, with various bars and restaurants taking up the rest of the ring. I took the time to take it all in, viewing much of the fine architecture with wonder.
Many of the buildings that had looked upon in Maastricht most certainly had to be over 100 years old – a few of the cathedrals themselves probably even dated back before the time of the writing of the Declaration of Independence. When I, as an American, start realizing that I’m in a country far older the my homeland, I suddenly feel so young and amateurish. It’s an experience only an American can really have outside of the United States.
I departed Vrijthof and continued westward and northward through the city, hoping that I will eventually hit Zuyd Hogeschool. I passed through many interesting places, stopping to take the sights in and enjoy the scenery. But as I kept on walking, I started to get the feeling that I wasn’t getting any nearer to Zuyd. I eventually reached another church, where I had to make the decision if I wanted to go left or right. I took the left route, which essentially took me in a big circle back to Vrijthof, adding much time onto my journey. It was only the next day that I learned how close I really was to Zuyd, had I taken the right route, I would have soon found myself at the school.
I took a brief reprieve in Vrijthof, stopping to grab a sandwich and fries at a nearby McDonald’s. I am pleased to report that the Mac Shack’s here in the Netherlands are just as affordable as they are in the United States. (Though I must note that because the US Dollar is notably weak, I am in essence paying a tad bit more here than I would be in the US, but not much to complain about).
With food in my belly and feeling refreshed, I headed back to Avant Garde to end my journey for the afternoon. During the duration of the trip, I had worn a pedometer on my belt to measure the number of steps I had taken. 13,277 was the final tally from leaving my room and returning after 3.5 hours. Doing some quick math, the average male stride is usually around 2.5 feet (possibly a little bigger for me given my height, but I’ll leave the estimate as is), so take the number, multiply it by the number of strides, and divide the result by 5,280: the final distance I walked was around 6.3 miles, or roughly 10 km for the Metric System fans (read: everyone that isn’t American).