Sunday, January 6, 2013

Maastricht mid-winter

The city is cloaked it’s post-Christmas grey, cool and drizzling, the river running high and muddy, the streets glistening in early twilight.  People balance umbrellas as they balance on bikes, fearing the sudden wind gust or icy spot.

Koopzondag is still in full swing today, attracting crowds into the Old Center looking for bargains.  The stores seem to be running a Dutch Auction to clear the shelves:  first 20% discount, then 30%, now 50%, tempting browsers to grab items before someone else does. 

I was trapped in a long line at the Bijenkorf to buy my 2013 Calendar (Molen voor elke maand, right): everyone is cashing gift cards ad making exchanges.  In contrast to the US, people are chatty and smiling for the most part.

Christmas is rapidly being deconstructed across town.  The Market at the Vrijthof has been  disassembled, the walls and roofs of the huts piled in flat tacks, the SkyWheel coming down wedge by wedge over an afternoon.  The bars along Kesselskade are taking a break from the Market crowds, and stay dark and shuttered so that staff can get a few evenings off.

Still, the lights remain along the streets and in the trees, I’m hoping they’ll stay for a couple of more weeks.  Carnivale is coming early this year (Feb 8-12) so I expect that the bunting and yellow-green-red lamps will be distributed along the streets shortly.

I’m getting my New Year rolling, business meetings for my projects, appointments with banks and physicians, drinks with friends.  It’s all loose and agreeable, no immediate deadlines to push towards and a much lighter task list.  I still need to get the class lectures prepared and my UK visa sorted, but those feel like distant clouds in an otherwise good start to the year.

Ryanair is running 10 euro flights between Maastricht-Aachen Airport and London-Stansted.  It’s really nice, cutting an hour off of the usual flights via Eindhoven.  They are running full too, so I’m hoping there’ enough traffic for the airline to keep the route running

The only gap is the connection from town center to the airport.  Taxis are 25 euros each way; the 59 bus costs only 4 euros but only starts at 8 am and runs only once an hour.

I’m assured by Veolia that its’ holiday scheduling, but when holiday travelers need to catch the only passenger flight at 7am,  wouldn’t it make sense to add busses rather than cut them?

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