After seeing Stromae in concert on Saturday, running a cross-country meet in Bastogne on Sunday, and then working for two days straight on scholarship applications and French homework, Wednesday I took a break in the form of a trip to Maastricht with my host mom.
Since it was my first time in the Netherlands, that brings my country count up to 9.
We left Beckerich under a blue sky, but by the time we arrived in Maastricht, the sky had turned grey. It was the day after the Carnaval celebrations, so there were decorations and confetti all over, though not as many people as I'm sure were there the day before. It was quite calm.
We left the car in a parking garage in the center of town and walked around for a while. This church with it's red tower was intriguing, so we went in, only to discover that it is a bascilica containing the "Treasure of St-Servais."
By treasure, they mostly mean bits of dead saints. There were several halls with gilded or ivory ornaments and relics, ancient silks, and even a crypt downstairs.
This is a gilded statue of a saint containing his actual teeth in a glass case on the chest of the statue. Some of the other relics contained a full set of teeth like this one, or perhaps bits of bone or hair. It seems an odd way to remember people, and one would imagine the Church wouldn't exactly condone the act of chopping up their saints. Then again, the history of the Church isn't exactly clean (think Spanish Inquisition), so I suppose it's not all that surprising. Just as long as they don't continue with that behavior now...
The most famous relic at St-Servais is this silver arm which apparently contains the arm bone of the disciple Thomas.
This is the crypt, which is empty. Odd, the one place where you would actually expect there to be bones, there is nothing.
Moving upstairs, check out this doorway as we enter the church itself. That must have taken quite a long time to carve...
...and even the floor is dizzyingly intricate.
Here's part of the bascilica, as seen from the garden.
And here is the red tower (which you can see in the far left of the second picture), making a nice contrast to the grey sky.
After leaving the bascilica, we crossed the river into the older part of the city. It was nice to see a river, but this one has nothing on the St. Lawrence.
On the way over, we met this little statue...and tried unsuccessfully to take what he's offering.
Later on, we met this man, but we decided to let him keep his hat.
We walked all the way to the train station in Old Maastricht before turning around and heading back to the other side of the river.
You can definitely tell you're in the Netherlands...look at all those bicycles! It's normal in Flanders and relatively common in Brussels to have a bicycle (in Flanders, it's weird if you don't), but it's rarer in Wallonia. There are more hills in the south, which makes it more difficult for biking. But it is so common in the north that bicyclists have their own lanes and traffic lights.
It started to rain as we got to the center of town, so we didn't stay long.
Still, it was a nice first trip to the Netherlands. Hopefully, next time it won't rain...
If you would like to see all my photos from the day, you can just click here.