Monday, 12 March 2007

Maastricht with no restrictions

River Maas
Yesterday we went on a trip to another country to meet some friends. In one hour and ten minutes - the time it would take to get from my home town of Norwich, Norfolk, to neighbouring county town and arch nemesis, Ispwich, Suffolk, we had crossed the border from Germany to Holland. And with considerably less suspicion. We had packed our passports, but nobody wanted to check them. Now, I know that a lot of Norfolkers - and I dare say Suffolkers - have suggested that a passport control system between the two counties could be a beneficial thing. Here, it seems, there is a more enlightened attitude.

Our destination was Maastricht. A beautiful Dutch city on the River Maas. While we travelled there from Germany, our friends travelled there from Belgium. So Maastricht proved to be a useful mid-way point.

If you're around my age or older you probably think of the Maastricht Treaty of 1992* when this town is mentioned, but actually it has much more going for it than that. It's a very old town and as such has beautiful architecture. For example, a 13th Century bridge spans the River Maas; there is a magnificent Romanesque church in the main plaza; and Dutch gables abound.

We spent a beautiful day walking around looking at the sights. But mostly sitting down in sunlit plazas, sampling Dutch refreshments, including traditional apple flan. Yum. It was so warm that my freckles came out.

All in all, a very continental Sunday!

*In the interests of good journalism I did actually look up the details of the treaty, but I must admit that within two minutes of commencing my quest I felt like I was ready for a nice sleep. It was only 10 am. However, if you want to find out more, here's a useful site: Eurotreaties. Don't all rush at once now, or you'll bring the site down!

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