Tandem Tour 2014: Lommel to Maastricht

Lommel_MaastrichtThis is a ride for people who like flirting with national borders; in this case between Belgium and the Netherlands. It is rural and navigated by long avenues and canals. The route takes riders across the border, I presume, in order to visit the historic town of Thorn (below right).  It is called “the White Town”; seemingly, there are 105 protected white houses in the town. The church is also impressive. It is a good place for lunch, too.DSCF0727

After Thorn, it is back into Belgium and due south towards Maastrict. En route riders pass through Maaseik. Maaseik boasts a large central square (below, left) a museum and a couple of churches. It is the birthplace of Flemish painters Jan and Hubert van Eyck whose DSCF0730statues are in the central square.

It was late afternoon when we left Maaseik. We refuelled with ice-cream and burned it off along the Zuid Wilemsvaart (canal) and crossed the border again at Smeermaas. In search of hotels on the approach, we ended up in the main square, Vrijthof, that was hosting the annual raucous food festival. The raucousness came from the huge volumes of alcohol being consumed after the eating. Despite that, we found a quiet room in the adjacent Hotel Du Casque.

Maastricht is busy. The shopping streets on the western side of the river are largely car free. There is not much that isDSCF0732 unique from any other significant town across Europe with the possible exception of the Boekhandel Selexyz Dominicanen (bookshop) in an ancient (1294) Dominican church (right).

DSCF0746The east side, however, is modern but conversely more eclectic. It is home to the fantastic ceramic centre (left; when staying in Maastricht, visitors pay tax on hotel rooms for all of the museums and some public buildings like this one). There is some exquisite pottery inside to view. There is also some peculiar items like the tank teapot (right). DSCF0745

It is also home to the ‘drogerie’ with the most wonderful window Ceramique_restaurantdisplay and a vegetarian restaurant as good as any (left). And not forgetting the railway station with its ceramic sphinx (below right).DSCF0739


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