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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Trip Report Short Maastricht Trip Report

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My (non-Dutch) in-laws decided to have my MIL’s [significant] birthday in Maastricht, because of their longstanding friendship and former business connections with a hotelier and businessman there. We stayed at the Hotel Derlon on the Onze Lieve Vrouwplein, a small town square that is pretty much completely filled with outdoor tables from the surrounding hotels and restaurants. Though our trip was in the second half of October, the citizens of Maastricht took every opportunity to sit outside—though, like France, this is perhaps because of laws against smoking indoors. We enjoyed our stay at this sleekly modern, well-located hotel; I have posted a slightly more detailed review in the hotel review section.

Maastricht is a charming small city in a southern pocket of the Netherlands well and truly sandwiched between Belgium and Germany. Mr. DangerGirl and I jogged along the river Maas several mornings and one day he ran to the Belgian border. The city has Roman origins; there are excavated ruins in the basement of the Derlon and remnants of city walls from various centuries throughout Maastricht. We had a tour of the city hall, which is decorated with fabulous tapestries and paintings of allegorical representations of the city’s history. (Sorry, I honestly don’t know if they regularly give tours or if this was a special arrangement by my FIL’s friend.) There are many pedestrian-only or pedestrian-friendly shopping streets between the river and the other two main town squares.

We visited the American Military Cemetery at Margraten, which was nice, but (unsurprisingly) very like others in Europe. The small, high-ceilinged chapel is stunning but unless you are looking for a particular soldier, I would not choose this to visit over others. (Note, I also wouldn’t choose NOT to, but if you’ve been, for example, to Normandy, this will not be new.)

We ate Italian food the two nights that were not arranged as part of the birthday celebration. In fact, other than the rice pudding pie (can’t describe it any other way) we were served at city hall and the syrup waffles (YUM!), I don’t think we ate anything particularly “Dutch”. Il Giardino near the Derlon was quite good; I had tortellini soup with a very flavorful broth and spaghetti carbonara that was nicely seasoned without being too salty. Hubby and I had frites with mayonnaise and curry ketchup for lunch one day. The other dinner was in a pizzeria off the town square; tasty and reasonable but I don’t remember what I chose from the typically European pizza options.

MIL’s birthday dinner was at the Hotel Derlon. Their kitchen did a very nice job of putting together a multi-course meal for our party of ~20 while a much larger party was dining in a different room, plus the regular restaurant was serving upstairs. We had a smoked duck amuse-bouche, venison carpaccio, salmon on a “bed” of sautéed leeks and cream sauce (there was also a meat option for the entrée) and chocolate cake-type dessert. (My memory of most of the ends of the evenings is hazy due to the consumption of lots of wine.) Service throughout the dinner and entire weekend was perfect, though I am of course cognizant that we were there under the auspices of the hotel owner so others’ experiences may be different.

All in all, we really liked Maastricht and would definitely recommend its inclusion in a trip through Northern Europe. It is very close to Liege (easy Thalys trains from Paris), closer to Brussels than Amsterdam, and some members of our group did a day trip to Aachen while we were there.

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