Mike and I have been in Maastricht, the Netherlands, for the past week at the 34th annual International Apparel Federation’s World Fashion Convention. We have been to Maastricht once before, ten years ago, for the same meeting. I loved Maastricht then and was excited to come back this year. As much as I loved Maastricht before, it was even more wonderful this time. So much so, that Maastricht has replaced London as my favorite city in the world!
There is so much to share with my readers about this wonderful city, that I plan to write several blogs about it over the next few months. So, where to start? I think it best to start with the people.
The people of Maastricht are friendly, kind, and gracious. As for friendly, they are not “bubbly,” which many people in the southern United States can be. They are genuine. (I am not saying that the people of the U.S. are not genuine, even though they can be “bubbly.”) The friendliness of the people of Maastricht comes through in their responsiveness, their kind facial expression, and their helpfulness. I did lots of shopping in Maastricht, (not as much buying!) and I experienced this many times. The staff in the stores were not distracted, and they were not on their cell phones; they were engaged with customers.
I remember the first time I travelled to Europe many years ago. I was struck then by one significant difference in the people to those in the U.S. The Europeans were in much better physical shape. That difference was even more obvious on this trip. While we Americans are getting larger and unhealthier (me too!) the Europeans I saw on this trip do not seem to have this problem. One significant reason for this difference is the mobility of the Europeans and the overall more sedentary lifestyle of many Americans. Of course, this is not unilaterally true. There are some states in the U.S where the lifestyle is more outdoors and athletic, such as Colorado. Most people of all ages that I saw in Maastricht were on bicycles or walking. Bicycles were much more prevalent than automobiles.
A great example of Maastricht was experienced in the Most Beautiful Bookshop in the World, the boekhandel dominicanen. This designation was awarded the bookshop by the Guardian newspaper. This is a bookshop in a former church. While the structure is exquisite, the entire experience in the bookshop was beyond expectation. The book offerings were extensive, including those that were of the English Language. I took several pictures of book titles, planning to order them through Amazon once back in the U.S.; I did not want to carry them home. (I did feel guilty about this since I would rather support an independent bookstore, but the ease of ordering through Amazon won out!)
One of the nicest touches of the bookshop was the free gift wrapping, which was offered at every transaction.
Then there was the coffee shop area in the bookshop. This was a lovely respite, with excellent coffee. There was a table in the shape of a cross, lest we forget the original meaning of this structure. Powerful.
Our time in Maastricht was a wonderful experience. This is just the beginning of the story.