Sunday, January 26, 2014

A few new changes around the old town…

MinckeleerMaastricht has been around since Roman times, and especially in the central core the cobbled streets and serrated gables can seem as eternal as Rome itself.

But, in the Markt Square, I found that Market Forces have finally caught up with Jan Pieter Minckeleers.

Minckeleers is honored as the inventor of “illuminating gas”, the piped natural gas that we use for lighting, heating, and cooking. His achievements are celebrated in a statue in central Maastricht, featuring an ‘eternal gas flame’.  And, for as long as I can remember, this flare has been lit, always.

DSC02954 (1300x1165) DSC02956 (1300x975)

However, in a bow to austerity and market dynamics, the Gemeente has extinguished the flame, adding a toll box that can be used to briefly light the torch for a few euros.  It also yields a ticket for a tourist lottery, but I have not yet seen anyone plug the machine.

I’m not sure how much the city actually saves with this strategy, but it feels unfortunate to link heritage and commerce in this way.  Hopefully, revenues don’t pay for the coin box, and Minckelers will get his flame back soon.

DSC02953 (1300x975)On a happier note, the empty restaurant downstairs has finally been rented again. following the bankruptcy of its predecessor over a year ago.  The folks at The Cle, next door, say it will be French—themed, hosted by one of the finest sommeliers in Belgium.  ‘scheduled to open mid-February, there’s been a flurry of folks through, fixing, fitting, and polishing all week.  The new owners look like nice people, and the event is putting a spring into my landlord’s walk.

DSC02963 (1300x976)Otherwise, the week has been unremittingly cold and wet, fit only for huddling with a Koffie and a Taartje under the blankets and heat lamps along the ‘skade.  Spring can’t come too soon.

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