Facebook is a blessing- and before you jump out at me and say that I’m already way too addicted to the social network, hear me out.
You see, after I got admitted to the university way back in January, I liked the university’s page on Facebook, and one thing lead to another, and suddenly there was a group for the incoming masters students. And it was with a large number of those people with whom I spent my first full day in this exciting place.
Although the day started off as very cloudy, the sun came out just when Caroline, of CaroinMaas, came over and we went out to the bus stop to go to the city center. We also knew that some people on the Facebook group had decided to meet so we informed them that we’d be joining them.
And thus began what I will call the ” Forever Walking” period of my life.
After taking the bus for the second time in my life- even though I’m no stranger to public transport- I was able to see where I will be studying or the next year for the very first time not on the pictures. And I loved how it all looked! But more of that later.
We stopped at the Maastricht Central Station and started walking towards the Vrijthof to meet the others, but it wasn’t long before we found them standing in the middle of the road trying to decide where to eat. And it was an incredible mix of people from different nationalities, cultures, and personalities, all coming together to do their master degrees in one city. It’s safe to say that we hit it off instantly, as we started walking (again) towards a place that we all could agree on.
And that walk involved going up the Saint Sevaarsbrug, a bridge that connects the two parts of the city, which have been separated by the Maas River, after which the city is named. I was so fascinated by this, I took picture after picture- mostly of people randomly walking, and also some of the Dutch architecture.
I would like to add, before I go any further, that I am absolutely taken by the buildings here. Well they’re not buildings per se, just really small houses in which people’s lives are fitted, like little boxes and compartments.
Moving on. We finally decided on a little bistro by the Maas, and when we sat down and ordered I discovered something that Environmental Health me loves: if you order tap water at the restaurant, it’s free. And seeing how clean tap water is in the Netherlands- yeah just like in Beirut- you tend to forget bottled water even exists. Well unless you’re me, and you keep an empty bottle in your apartment which you keep filling up so you won’t have to use cups- but I digress.
After the lunch, where I had a delightful goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and rocca sandwich, we headed to the park. And that’s where I started snapping so many pictures, the guys in our group confirmed their theory about me being some sort of a digital queen. Also some jokes were thrown around about us not being tourists but rather explorers, or something.
The park is lovely. For reasons I don’t understand though, there are cannons right at the entrance to it, but that also maybe has to do with the fact that there’s an old fortress right next to it. Then, after what seemed like an endless walk, we finally got to the adjacent zoo- Did I mention we sort of took the wrong way, which is why we walked so much? Because we did.
This part of the park is seriously lacking in animals but is filled with sculptures, one of which is dedicated to a dude from the Three Musketeers, who according to one of my friends, obviously had some sort of modern technology for his hair. Why that statue is there, is beyond me, I wasn’t listening when they said so.
And there’s also this.
Strange, sad, and just really odd. It’s like a reminder of all the animals that have gone extinct. Although I doubt giraffes have, or if they are really present in the Netherlands. The group was so baffled by this, that we stayed there for about 5 minutes cracking jokes and trying to come to an understanding.
From there, we headed towards the Markt and the Vrijtohf, where the prettiest cafes, the cheap fast food shops and carts- in fact the McDonalds in Vrijtohf has become a standard meeting place- and all the big name shosps are. There’s also a big shopping center with what has to be like the 4th H&M store I saw in that area. This whole location is cobblestone, so you can walk freely without being hit by car- oh wait, there are bicycles. Never mind!
Our group dwindled to nearly five by then and we sat in a cafe for some drinks and also because it was starting to rain- again. My standard order, a 7Up, came like this.
On the other hand, my friend Xanthi ordered something like orange juice, and it was the most unfortunate name I have ever seen.
Oh well, what can you do?
But that still wasn’t the end of the day…