A Travellerspoint blog

Carnival in Maastricht

sunny 5 °C

From Sunday 10 February to Tuesday 12 February 2013, Maastricht, the Carnival capital of the Netherlands, will once again be the centre of vibrant and colourful street celebrations. For three days, the “Prince of Fools” – also known as Prince Carnival – and his entourage will lead the city and the celebrations in accordance with their own crazy protocol, as people come from far and near to celebrate Carnival. Starting on the 11th day of the 11th month, the Carnival itch begins to spread like wildfire as increasing numbers of people start to prepare costumes, materials and floats for the grand Carnival parade (the “Boonte Störrem” in the local dialect).

Maastricht Tourism Board

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During Carnival everyone in Maastricht seems to stop what they are doing and get dressed up. Regardless of age, everyone puts some serious effort into what they are going to wear. Most people do not work some or all of carnival week and most stores are shut, except for larger chain stores and bars of course. The vibe is really different to anything else in australia; theres no scuffles or fights, no massive police prescence and no barriers patrolled by security guards. The atmosphere is so friendly that many people bring their childeren into the town to enjoy the street celebration. Standing on the streets outside cafes and bars, you can buy beer out of a real glass, without entering any sort of restricted area; you can just wander off with a beer down the street and no one will care during carnival.
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The costumes and performances around the streets are really what makes it such an awesome and cohesive event. Its nothing like a themed birthday party where a few guests decide to put in a half assed effort. Instead the majority of people put in a lot of time and money into making thier costume a memorable one, or those at least have a convincing attempt/store bought costume. Hours of face painting go into creating some costumes, with people dressed up like characters from The Hobbit.. Larger groups are particularly noticeable when they dress up together, or a group of well rehearsed drummers or brassband wander around playing these uniquely southern Netherlands songs. Everyone knows the words to these songs and will stop and sing along, or play along as many individuals also take an instrument with them.

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Overall carnival was a great experience, unlike anything I've ever been to before. But I think it is has a very unique vibe held closely by Maastricht and it's neighbouring villages who strive to keep this street festival going in the right manner with strong links to its roots.

Also, had a week of introductory uni classes mostly. Uni is a lot more intense than at home due to shorter blocks. Nonetheless the work is interesting and relevant to practical business life.

Posted by Jack Chaffey 02:15 Archived in Netherlands Tagged carnaval netherlands festival carnival maastricht south_netherlands limburg Comments (0)

Skiing & back to Maastricht

A tiring week

overcast 1 °C

After an awesome week of skiing in France we headed back via bus to Maastricht. Unfortunately I couldn't get any decent sleep on the way back, but a decent breakfast and a bed to sleep in courtesy of my friend Thur & his parents was greatly appreciated. The week skiing was really awesome and was a great way get get to know a lot of people before uni even started.

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The skiing was really good at the beginning and ends of the week but mid week the weather was unseasonably warm, leading to sloshy afternoons and icy mornings. A nice dump of snow for saturday was a great way to finish the week.

Now that i'm back in Maastricht i'm busy getting organised for uni and general living. This included getting a bike sorted, buying sheets & bedding and finally moving into my own place tomorrow.
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I have my first lecture this afternoon which is also exciting.
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There is only a week of uni before we have another break for carnival next week, which should be a heap of fun and lots of partying.

Weather is really cold at the moment and the novelty has worn off!

Posted by Jack Chaffey 03:07 Archived in Netherlands Tagged cold Comments (0)

Maastricht & French Alpes

Skiing!

snow -5 °C

After a few days of getting settled, oriented and organised in Maastricht, we headed to France via bus on Friday night. The bus trip was around 12 hours, but wasn't too bad. This week I've managed to double my count of countries visited. Just on the bus trip here we travelled Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg & France!

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We are skiing at Les Deux (2) Alpes in France, which has really nice long ski runs. The village itself it quite big, and the company who organised it is Dutch, so there are lots of Dutch students here. The scenery is really amazing, and I'll be taking lots of photos tomorrow and will upload them soon. I've still managed to keep up with them on the runs, but their skill level is so good.

The group I am skiing with are mostly Dutch & German students from the student group at uni. They are all really really friendly, hospitable and fun. And speak english very well, which makes life easier.

Posted by Jack Chaffey 13:03 Archived in France Tagged snow skiing les_deux_alpes Comments (0)

Amsterdam and Maastricht

Getting acquainted

overcast -3 °C

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After spending another day in Amsterdam wandering around I took the train to Maastricht in the evening. The trains are awesome, they are fast, clean and comfortable. They aren't that cheap, but are good value, the 2.5 hour trip cost about $30AU. After arriving I was met by Thuur, who has put me up for a few days at his place.

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Maastricht is really pretty, but at a totally different pace to Amsterdam. Its full of old buildings, including the one im staying in currently: a three storey terrace style student place. The historic cobblestone streets have really awesome boutique shops, bars and cafes. First night in Maastricht I met a heap of people who are involved with the student union at this little bar they frequent. The bars have a really nice feel as they are small and friendly, especially cosy considering the cold weather outside everyones avoiding.

The last couple of days in Maastricht I spent getting acquainted with the city, and managed to find a nice room to rent, in a nice little street. I also bought some bits and pieces i needed to live.

I'll be posting up some more pictures in the next few days, as I havent had a chance to take many of Maastricht itself yet, but plenty of time for that.

Posted by Jack Chaffey 07:34 Archived in Netherlands Tagged maastricht Comments (0)

Flights & Arrival

Sydney to Amsterdam

snow -4 °C

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Got to the airport on Saturday afternoon and took my flight to Amsterdam, via Kuala Lumpur. First flight was good, with a spare seat beside me. Second flight from Kuala Lumpur was also fairly good, even though it was 13 hours. Finally I arrived in Amsterdam and made it through customs and immigration fairly easily. My friend Chris met me at the airport and gave me a lift back to his parents house. Was good to finally have a shower and feel fresh!
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I decided I would push through the whole day to try and reset my body clock, and I did manage to make it through until 8:30 pm local time. Managed to knock a few classic Dutch things off the bucket list in the first few hours of being there. First up I ice skated on a canal, in a more rural area just outside of Amsterdam. It was a brief experience but I managed not to fall over or break my wrist. After ice skating we headed back into Amsterdam. In the afternoon ticked off riding bikes around Amsterdam which was really awesome. We took a brief tour around the lane-ways, canals and old buildings in the city centre.

Come 2:30 we ducked into this tiny little bar to watch the Amsterdam (Ajax) v Rotterdam football game. At times it was pretty intense inside this local bar that was tiny and packed to the rafters; and fortunately Amsterdam won. Whilst we were cosily tucked in the little bar/cafe called 'Café de Blaffende Vis' (The Barking Fish Cafe) snow had begun falling outside, so by the time we decided to move on to somewhere else we had to ride the bikes all the way home, sliding around and snow in our eyes. 90_DSC00538.jpg,

We took a short but uncomfortable ride to a nearby pizza pasta place and had a really nice meal. Upon leaving we had a quick walk through a semi deserted red light district; probably because it was -3, snowing and a sunday night. Finally we braved the long ride home through the snow which was intense but fun, trekking along in the night with the snow still falling!DSC00534.jpg

Posted by Jack Chaffey 07:42 Archived in Netherlands Tagged snow winter amsterdam jetlag Comments (0)

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