Utrecht & Maastricht, The Netherlands
Another grey and gloomy day in the Netherlands, which meant it was probably not the best day for driving to Kinderdijk windmill farm. Twenty windmills, spread out over a couple of kilometres along a series of waterways, definitely called for blue skies and sunshine. I was over the moon that there were so many windmills, an iconic Dutch image I was longing to see more of, but disappointingly none of them were moving - it looked like a photograph. Danny repeatedly expressed his displeasure at the lack of movement. At one stage we saw a man emerge from one of the windmills and push the blades so it would pick up the wind. It rotated a quarter of a turn then stopped. It made Danny's day.
Leaving the uninspiring windmills behind, we drove on to Utrecht. Utrecht had absolutely no sights, but it made the must-see list because of its sunken canals, winding their way through the city down below the street level. Many were lined with bars and restaurants, however they must have been a summertime feature as we only saw one or two open. The only other highlight was a church, with a beautiful garden in the courtyard that we explored briefly. Utrecht was pretty enough, and the canals were interesting, but again it wasn’t the best day to be sightseeing.
Our final stop was Maastricht, where we located a free car park close to the centre. Danny cooked a beautiful curry rice dish for dinner, which he randomly paired with a Bloody Mary. This is one cocktail I am not a fan of, so I let him enjoy his spiked tomato juice all by himself. The only issue with the drink was that we didn't have any Worcestershire sauce, so he used chilli paste instead. He liked it just the same.
The following day saw a return to the sunny weather, making us eager to get out and explore Maastricht. We walked to the tourist office and enquired about tours to the local forts and caves. Apparently there was a whole network on tunnels underneath the city, which extended all the way into neighbouring countries. Unfortunately, November was well out of the tourist season, meaning there were no tours running. It was not the first time we had encountered this, and we were betting it would come up a few more times before we finished our travels.
With that plan out the window we resorted to wandering around city aimlessly, checking out a couple of pleasant squares but not much else. A path running alongside a narrow creek provided a distraction for a while, meandering through a peaceful parkland that still had a few autumn trees on show (most of the trees were leafless now). We stumbled upon a mini zoo, displaying goats, deer, sheep and numerous types of birds. Many locals were offering food to the birds, and they flew in from everywhere for the free feed. It ended up being a lovely area, but I was still disappointed about the caves.
Lastly, we headed out to St Pieter's fort, which of course was closed but we were able to climb the hill beside the fort. I was hoping for a view of some sort, yet all we could see were trees and a few hazy buildings in the distance. Disheartened, we slowly plodded back to the car, picking up a packet syrup waffles on the way as a final ode to the Netherlands.