|So I had to see another town in the Netherlands, just to see what the rest of the country was like. It would be easy to come and just see Amsterdam, but I think a lot of places get overlooked. So I did some research and decided Maastricht would be the place. It has many nature reserves in close proximity to it, and it was described to me by someone as being an open air museum. And we were NOT disappointed. Maastricht would be my favorite place we have been so far, except it is hard to forget Ronda and Granada. But it was wonderful. We got off the train, and decided to lock our bags in the locker at the train station, just so we could be a little more mobile. We had plans to couchsurf with a new friend, Marten. We rented some bikes and just rode around the city all afternoon. It gave me this feeling, like I could live like that forever, like when you are nine years old, taking the world on, zooming along on your bike. We REALLY need more bikes in the US. I know a lot of people have already caught on to this, but it seems clear that it would be a much better country if we all just biked around more. It seems too simple to solve big problems, but I am convinced.
Back to Maastricht... It is this beautiful city divided by a river, with several bridges linking the two sides. And literally everyone rides their bike. They have these amazing buildings, blooming trees and neat cobbled streets. Not too many tourists either, a nice change of pace. So we finally met up with our host Marten, and enjoyed our first home cooked meal in a LONG time. It was so good too, this chicken curry that had the perfect spice. Marten has lived in Maastricht for a long time, and he is a very cool person. We just talked and talked and then his friend (another couchsurfer!) Reka came over, and we kept on chatting through the night.
We woke up early the following day and made plans to ride to the nature reserve in Sint Petersburg, which was supposed to be really pretty. That is an understatement. We rode around on these rolling hills, passed an old, old church, a beautiful cemetery, this cool old farmhouse, flowery meadows, secret caves that the dutch built to protect themselves a looooong time ago. It was just so fantastic. And we only saw a couple other people the whole time we were exploring. We managed to find our way back to town and had a yummy late lunch. We biked some more, checked out some shops and tried to see all we could.
That night, we had a Meatball Competition. Paige and I made American Meatballs (really a rip-off of the traditional Italian style, but oh well), Marten made Dutch meatballs and Reka made Hungarian meatballs. It was like the perfect evening. Our judges were Reka`s roommates, Sophia from Greece and Patrixia (hope I am spelling that right) from Italy. I knew right away mine weren`t going to win, but that is a typical American way to look at it, so what I will say instead is that we were all winners, because it was meatball night and it doesn`t get much better than that.
The next day we went back to some cool spots and then hopped on a train (or several trains...) to Hamburg to see Svennie!