Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Way With Words

Once again it's my turn at Vision and Verb.
You'll get the title better if you go there first to see what this above collage is about.
I'll just say here that it is the Selexys bookstore in the 13th century Dominican church in Maastricht.

Besides what we did on my actual birthday, that Sunday, June 13 (last post), we spent the day on that prior Saturday wandering around one of Holland's most famous cities: Maastricht.

If you look at this map (click to enlarge) and find Amsterdam, up by the inlet area, and then move south/down to Utrecht, which is getting into our neck of the woods here in Gorinchem, you can then go all the way south/down to the tip of the country on the right hand side to find Maastricht...171 km from home...5 hours of driving. (This isn't Kansas, Folks!)

It was our longest trip to date with Granny Towanda and she did not disappoint. We knew we'd be in for a full day before heading north again to our B&B in Lottum (once again, last post).

As we entered Maastricht, after parking the car and then setting out on foot through the city's "protected area," we were in for a thrill.

I see something like this street-corner café and always think "How European!"
The bicyles, too..."How Dutch!"

In almost every European city center, I'm sure, there is a main plaza and a huge church. In Maastricht's center there are TWO huge churches that appear to have become one...until you find the one narrow street that separates them. Because one is Catholic and the other Protestant, they aren't one, but the tourists don't know it when they see them from afar.

Of the two churches, the St. Servaas (Servatius) Basilica (Catholic) is the largest and the one that is open to visitors. St. Servaas is the patron saint of Maastricht, dying there in 384 A.D. The 0ldest parts of the church date around 1000 A.D. but most of the present structure is from the 12th century.

Now look at this collage below and see what I mean about how the protestant St. Janskerk (John's Church) (in the painted red stone) appears to be meshed with St. Servaas. And see the street that separates them. Hopefully they don't throw stones at each other!

In the bottom row of the above collage are 3 other churches we saw in Maastricht. The two images on the right belong to the The Faculty of Law for the University of Maastrict, located at the former provincial government building, where a Lutheran church (1684) holds its services (according to a sign Astrid saw). The church on the other side of the Maas River is the St. Martinuskerk and the one on the left is the Nieuwenhof monastery where the University College Maastricht now is (15th century). [Don't quote me on any of this...because I did a lot of Googling and still am not sure of it all.]

Besides the churches (that still amaze me after all this time), we continue to see Roman ruins everywhere we go here in Holland, reminding us of Roman domination for 4 centuries. I see history like this and am mind-boggled. These ancient walls and ramparts were built in the 13th century.

There is a debate as to whether Maastricht or Nijmegen is Holland's oldest city. Maastricht never received Roman city rights but appears to have settlements older than Nijmegen's. Some of the paleolithic remains are from 8-25,000 years ago. And the Celts lived here 500 years before the Romans. That's good enough for me.

Tha Maas river is the main waterway, as seen above with the Maas bridge built during the reign of Augustus Ceasar. See what I mean about mind-boggling history! How fun to walk around and see present-day life interwoven midst the ancient structures as though no one ever blinks an eye.

This particular trip I noticed I had taken several pictures of Astrid, so here's a collage of partner in crime on these photo hunts!

Isn't she cute?! :)

I leave Maastricht with this last of those scenes that is soulful to me.
This is what it was like for me on my birthday weekend, doing and seeing what I love.

This coming week we are getting ready for our first week's vacation since my arrival almost 7 months ago. On Saturday we will start our drive to SW France to spend a few days with Dutch friends who now live there. By Wednesday we will start our return home via the west and north coasts of France...totally avoiding the Tour de France and Paris. We plan to visit Bordeaux and St. Michel, both of which will blow us away. But everything along the way, most of it off the main highways, will be a taste of something brand new for me. Can you believe it's at our fingertips?!

I plan to have finished Chapter 5 of my Dutch studies before we leave. That's 5 of 9 chapters in my first of 2 books. I feel like I'm flying. So far so good!

Don't forget my turn at Vision and Verb, for which this post is titled.


  1. Remember the Baptist Church and the Methodist Church, across the street from each other? :)

    Yes, she is very cute.

    I am quite envious of you going to the French countryside, especially St. Michel. Don and I are aching to do that.

    Have you seen the film "Mind Walk" with Liv Ullman, John Heard and Sam Waterston? It's a favorite, though I've just seen it once. I need to rent it again. It is mostly just dialog, and it takes place as they walk around St. Michel.

  2. Oh, sadly Mindwalk is not on Netflix. :( (It is one word, I correct what I wrote previously.) So I'm guessing it will be hard to find, unless you order it online.

  3. I understand what you mean about having reservations about converting a church into a book store, but how majestic it must feel to browse through books under the tall vaulted ceilings. Oops, I just realized that you made the comment on your V&V post.

    Your "How Dutch" photo looks like it could have been a model railroad scene.

    Did you notice that the people from Limburg speak with a "zachte 'G'"?

  4. Such a comprehensive post. I love all the photographs; they are a visual feast.

  5. I love all of your posts. They are such the perfect length to learn about the city and get in my photo fix.

    I must say that the Maas river area reminds me of Basel!!! Do you see that too a bit? Especially with the bridge photo.

    I also have a tie for my fav photo of the bunch, the very last one...

    I'm happy to know you will be taking the scenic route on your vacation, a dream of mine to do next time I'm on vacation in France (did it while I lived there)...

    Can't wait to see some of the awesome finds you see on vacation!


  6. Ruth: How could I forget about our two churches. OMG! I never once thought about them. My best friend went to the Methodist Church and I went to some special mid-week events with her there. And remember Dad doing the Good Friday service there?

    No, I've not seen Mindwalk. I'll have to see if we have it at our DVD store here. Hmmm.

    DB: I must say the bookstore is awesome. You don't get up that high in most churches! Astrid says she knows about the Limburg "zachte 'G'" but we didn't really talk to anyone to hear it ourselves. I sure do love this country!

    Karen: I am a different person with this collage software, finally able to utilize my myriad images in a more productive way, as far as I'm concerned. It has made all the difference in the world. Thanks for your comment.

    ET: The collage software has really helped me use my pictures better, Jen. I'm so glad I finally found it. Thanks, as always, for your support!

  7. Another one of your superb travel posts, Ginnie. It's great that you include lots of factual background as well as your own interesting and thoughtful perspective on each place you visit.
    As for Astrid, what I noticed right away is her agility! A photographer's gotta be able to do deep knee bends and she looks like those are still a piece of cake.

  8. A big smile again...I know a day not laughed is a day not lived, I like to thank Ruth and Deborah for their nice words.
    Your blogs are indeed a visual feast, a joy to the eye, I know I have been there with you side by side (sometimes I had to look around to find you though :D )
    If they ever need a photographer for city Ginnie....
    Our next big trip will start overmorgen (they day after tomorrow) I am looking forward it, we will pass the border of two countries and I have to have my 'French' ready, not that I have the vocabulary of 1500 words, but I am able to keep us alive.
    Een prachtige serie collages, ik ben trots op jou.

  9. You shared a lot of history in this post. It's impressive and fascinating.

  10. Thank you for sharing this with me, Ginnie. I am looking forward to meeting up with the two of you not too distant in the future.