An old bridge across the river was blocked off as we tried to get to our camping site of Meersen and we eventually found our way after a large detour. The campsite owner was a dour fellow who didn’t like living in the village of Meersen because the people were very parochial and made life difficult if they could according to him. He told us that there used to be a bus outside the site but the council deemed it no longer necessary so we used his services for a fee to get into Wyck, just across the bridge from the centre of Maastricht which is a beautiful little city which was overrun with some of the 12,000 university students who were attending an orientation day in and around the city. The student associations were very vocal where they had set up on the banks of the river and one group running around town in a piaggio ape with a megaphone trying to cajole new students into joining their association. It was a friendly and sober atmosphere but it was early in the day!

Maastricht apart from being a university city attracting students from all over the world is known as a shopping city and there were many tourists doing exactly that. The cafes, bars and restaurants were very popular too. We met up with Tabea a friend we had made in India and she led us to a popular chocolate/cafe which had every conceivable chocolate spoon mixtures. I had a hot chocolate with vodka and lime which was very tasty. She took us to a restaurant which had cleverly built the restaurant below ground around some ancient Roman ruins. Very enterprising.

We had been given conflicting information as to where to get off the train the next day which found the four of us catching the train forwards and backwards to get to the main station over the river in Wyck which was a short walk down the road and over the bridge into Maastricht city.

We walked extensively through the lovely parks bordering the river and found our way to the Waldeck bastion, a fort built
originally in 1690 and to the statue of D’Artagnan. Charles Ogier de Batz de Castelmore, Comte d’Artagnan (c. 1611 – 25 June 1673) served Louis XIV as captain of the Musketeers of the Guard and died at the Siege of Maastricht in the Franco-Dutch War. We learn something new every day! In the Aldenhofpark there was a statue of a girl caressing a dead giraffe. This was surrounded by a dry moat with other statues of animals. Very strange and we could find no explanation for it all.

We caught the train back to Meersen and found a Greek restaurant at which to eat which was lucky as most restaurants out of the city were closed on Monday. A lot of the local shops were closed until 1pm on Monday and closed at 6pm.

We stopped on the way down to Luxembourg across the German border at Aachen or in French Aix-la-Chapelle. We parked in a very ordinary looking part of town but followed the signs to the old town which held a treasure trove of medieval buildings some which had been built for Charlemagne.

From there we headed back into Belgium and to Bastogne, a pretty town now with brightly coloured umbrellas hanging over the main street and a town which figured largely in Battle of the Bulge in WWII.
This was our last stop in Belgium before entering the country of Luxembourg and then the city of Luxembourg.

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