My Trip to Maastricht, the Netherlands in 2011

(Please scroll down to read my report!)

# Destination: Flag: Date: Comment:
1 Brussels
21/09/2011 LHR to Brussels
Hire car to Maastricht
2 Aaachen & Monschau
22/09/2011 Cathedral Treasury &
Picture Postcard Town
3 Maastricht
23/09/2011 Basilica Treasury &
St. Pietersburg
4 South Limburg
24/09/2011 Susteren, Sittard, Meersen &
5 Ardennes
25/09/2011 Caves at Han-sur-Lesse,
Dinant & Namur
6 Eiffel Massif
26/09/2011 Kornelimünster, Nideggen &
7 Maastricht
27/09/2011 Ramparts, Natural History &
Bonnefanten Museums
8 Brabant
28/09/2011 Gallo-Roman Museum,
Tongeren & Main Square Louvain

Dr. Kim Veltman - my generous host in Maastricht!

Dr. Kim Veltman - my generous host in Maastricht!

My report

I have just got back home after seven glorious days staying with Dr. Kim Veltman in Maastricht (**) in the Netherlands. I drove up to town, parked my car on Brian's drive and took him out for a lovely Greek meal. The British Airways Airmiles scheme is changing in November so I used my points to get a free return flight from London Heathrow to Brussels National Airport. I indulged in joy riding on the new electric 'pods' at Terminal 5! In Brussels I hired a Ford Ka from Hertz and drove to Maastricht via Liège. Kim has a lovely four floor, three bedroom semi-detached house in a nice residential suburb within walking distance of the Maastricht city centre.

On the first full day he took me to see the treasury (***) at the Cathedral (**) in Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) Germany. We saw the famous Lothair Cross (990 AD) and Charlemagne's silver bust (1350 AD) complete with crown, amongst other treasures. In the afternoon we walked around the picture postcard town of Monschau (**) and climbed up to the castle. On the way home we took tea with Kim's Aunt & Niece who have both been the Mother Superior in a Convent.

On the next day he showed me around the treasury (**) of the basilica (**) in Maastricht. We saw St. Servatius's shrine (1160 AD) and his silver bust complete with bishop's mitre, amongst other treasures. In the afternoon I climbed up St. Pietersburg (*) for a fine view of the great river Maas/Meuse. That evening Kim threw a lovely dinner party for his friend Nino and me.

On the third day we toured the sights of South Limburg including the basilicas at Susteren & Meersen. I also walked the ramparts of Sittard but unfortunately the archaeological museum at Stein was closed. In the afternoon I toured the caves and castle at Valkenburg.

On the next day we drove via Liège across the Ardennes to the famous caves (***) at Han-sur-Lesse (*). I enjoyed the tram ride to the entrance and marvelled at the extensive natural cave system. We drove home via Dinant (**) along the Meuse valley to Namur (**). The cable car to the Citadelle (*) has disappeared so I made do with a walk around the old town at the confluence of the Sambre and Meuse rivers.

On the fifth day I visited the picture postcard perfect towns of Kornelimünster (*) & Nideggen (*) in the Eiffel Massif of Germany. The latter still has its town walls with four magnificent gates, a Romanesque church and a castle perched high above the Rur valley. I saw the two Rur (not Ruhr!) dams and several more interesting towns. On the way home I visited the Dreiländerpunkt triple point where Belgium and Germany meet the Netherlands.

On the next day I walked the ramparts (*) of Maastricht before visiting the Natural History & Bonnefanten (*) museums. In the evening we ate out in a lovely Thai restaurant in the old part of Maastricht.

On my last day I walked the ramparts at Tongeren (*) and Louvain (**) on the way back to Brussels. In the former my Bonnefanten museum ticket got me into the new Gallo-Roman museum for free. It is in a stunning new building and won the European museum of the year award this year.

British Airways was faultless as always and after spending the night at Brian's in Ealing I drove home to Bournemouth. Undoubtedly one of my best holidays ever!

___________ Michelin Stars __________

*** Merits the journey (Mérite le voyage)
** Worth a detour (Vaut un détour)
* Interesting (Intéressant)

Dr Kim H Veltman wrote the following in his autobiography:

Martin Lee is a splendid character. We met in Commonwealth Hall. He was studying Geography. Martin is immensely kind, has a wonderful laugh, and is wonderfully generous. He was the first to show the hidden beauties of England’s landscapes. When he moved to Keele University for further studies, he took me to Cheshire, the Cheddar Gorge, and the Peak District. He is a great hiker. I always felt slightly out of condition, as I struggled to keep up with him. Where I would see an escarpment of stones, Martin saw several chapters of pre-history. It was like having an augmented reality tutor as a companion. The landscape became a lesson in the Jurassic, Devonian, Silurian and other eras.

Martin was not interested in the depths of academia in either sense. He developed an interest in computer software, taught courses and wrote a book on Lotus Notes. Then, when he retired, like a butterfly, he had a metamorphosis. He learned ballroom dancing and began giving courses on cruise ships. Soon he was spending more time at sea than on land. The hiking continues. His fascination for travel continues. Martin has found the secret of enjoying life, taking nothing too seriously and bringing joy to other people.