“Why would anyone want to leave this place?” I smiled and thought to myself at that very moment. I had only learned to cycle a few days before and decided that the best form of practice would be to cycle around the city.
I was by myself on my bike, on the Hoge Brug (the name of which I have just learned), with nothing but the Meuse River beneath me, the central park in front of me, and the Ceramique District behind me. I had walked this bridge many, many times before but this was my very first time up there on two wheels.
I felt exhilarated and fulfilled, finally doing something that I had never done before. It was only made better because of the constant tranquility Maastricht was in. Something about being that high up with the water beneath you and the town surrounding you makes you forget about your upcoming exams or thesis worries.
But it was that park at the end of the bridge that really got to me, every single time. Coming from Beirut, a city where green spaces are dwindling quickly, the park was something I appreciated greatly but never really took advantage of.
I loved the fact that you could just cycle through the bridge, then trudge it down the stairs and find yourself in the middle of a park. One with ancient fort remains no less.
I wanted to be one of those people who took a snack, a blanket, a good book, and some sunglasses and just spent the day reading and taking in the sunshine.
I, of course, forgot that this was the Netherlands where people celebrate when the sun does come out.
But that’s not to say I did not love it and admire the beauty, though it was also very simple and very tiny to the Vondelpark in Amsterdam, for example. I always thought that it just tied the new and old parts of the city together and I always came back to the very first moment I set foot there- feeling like I was on the this whole grand adventure.
To not undermine the beauty of this memory, i won’t mention anything about the creepy structure of the girl cuddling a dying girrafe and being surrounded by statues of extinct animals. There’s no need for anyone of us to think about that. Or wonder why it’s even there.
But if you’re so compelled, here’s a picture:
One of my favorite memories was during my first week there, during the INKOM introduction week, was this massive barbecue we had there. I remember being very paranoid about the food because it mostly included pork- but once that issue was resolved, I remember feeling happy to be surrounded by so many different people from different parts of the world. Oh and they were serving ice-cream. Who can complain about that?
Did I get to walk hand in hand through that park with someone? I did. We didn’t just walk, we cycled, we talked, we had ice-cream And for a while, that’s all I ever wanted in the world. Maybe I was too charmed by the tiny lovely town and its tiny lovely park.