Today I decided to devote the afternoon to me, so after the Exfactor came over to look at some paperwork that had me quite worried and which I will tell you about tomorrow, I decided to have an afternoon that was solely devoted to me.
The weather was great and there was not a cloud in the sky, so I hopped on my bike and rode it downtown, where I was smart enough to park it in the official bike parking underground. I didn't want to be caught bikeless at the end of the afternoon for a second time and so did a lot of other people, because the underground parking was very full. I think there isn't enough bike parking in his town and they are just going to have to make more of it.
Anyway, the first place I went to was the Hema department store and I leisurely walked around it for a while until I found a purse that just had to go home with me. It is black and has two zippered compartments up front, under the flap, where I can keep my wallet and my camera, so it is perfect. It has a long strap, so I can wear it across my chest and feel secure in the fact that nobody is going to rip it off my shoulder. After I paid for it, I moved down the counter and immediately transferred all my stuff from the old purse to the new one and I walked out of the store feeling quite perky.
Things I didn't buy there were an electric water boiler, a thermal teapot and an on sale duvet cover. Savings...quite a bit.
I blew all the savings when I went to my favorite clothing store and right when I entered saw a multicolored top that just begged to have a purple long sleeved stretchT-shirt underneath it, which I found. Then I went to look at their jackets again, because I had a hunch that more of them would be on sale, and I was right. I tried on about 6 different ones, but ended up buying the one I tried on first, which is a brown leather jacket that was on sale for the price of a potato and an egg, so that had to go home with me also.
You see how these items of clothing call out to me from the racks on their hangers to be taken home by me, that is, if I find the one that is perfect. Once I find the one that is perfect, there is no sense in me hanging it back into its place, it is totally useless, because by that time I have bonded with the item and I find it impossible to let go of it. As a matter of fact, I'll wear it out of the store and have the saleslady cut off the tags while I am wearing it, no matter how hard they are to reach. I figure she's got to do a little bit of work to make that sale.
To celebrate my good fortune, I went to Café Monopole and sat on the terrace there. Here is a picture of it.
I had a cappuccino there with a chocolate and a cookie and a piece of rijstevlaai, which is something you will have to google yourself to see what it looks like. I only ate the filling, because of my gastric band, and that was more than enough. The cappuccino was delicious and I had a fun time watching the people walk by. For afters I had a glass of dry white wine and that went down quite easy too. I do so like sitting on terraces by myself, because I can determine how long I sit there and what I have to drink and how slowly I drink it. I have none of the awkwardness of a woman on her own and none is directed to me.
After that I started to wander around town a bit and took this picture of the fountain on the big square, although now on the picture it looks like a puny fountain, when in reality it has quite a bit of spray.
In the background you can see the Spanish Guard building, left over from when the Spanish ruled here back in the 16th century into the 17th century, until we kicked them out after the 80 Year War. One of my ancestors fought in it and luckily was on the right side. He was protestant. I am sure more of them did, but I don't know about them, I only know for sure about this one because it is documented.
Then I came upon these carnavalesque figures and of course, I had to take numerous pictures of them, because they are not always decked out that colorfully and I don't know for which occasion they were. Normally they are just in their bronze nakedness.
I will spare you the boredom of having to look at more than one of them, so we can move on to the next picture and that one has the oldest private dwelling of Maastricht on it and is now a café called In the Old Ostrich. It is the building on the corner where all the flags are waving for I know not what reason, except to be patriotic and jolly and happy.
You can see how we have such a café culture here, especially in the better seasons on the terraces, but even in the winter time when the weather allows it, we will sit outside with burners going to provide heat and big parasols to keep us from getting wet if it just drizzles.
Anyway, then I walked to Armor Square, which is just a little square that supports a few cafés and shops and restaurants. There's the column with Armor standing on it. I don't know the story behind it, just as I don't know about a lot of Maastricht's cultural history. Shame on me!
And here is a little side street that runs into it that I thought was just pretty and a little Mediterranean looking, especially with the green vine climbing up the side of the building.
Then I got into the expensive shopping area. You can tell, because of the lack of people walking around. They shop more discretely than the rest of us. Here is where I almost ran into André Rieu, the famous violinist and orchestra director and he smiled at me when he passed me, because he saw I had a camera in my hand and no doubt he thought I was going to ask if I could take his picture, but I didn't, because I am not like that. I will never ask someone famous to pose for a picture, I find it highly embarrassing, both for me and for the famous person. So, I walk past them without barely a glance and I don't look around. I walked past Harry Bellafonte that way too.
As a reward for my wandering around downtown I went to 't Pothuiske, where the Exfactor and I went in the wintertime and where I had hot chocolate. I sat at a small table outside.
I ordered a glass of wine and noticed the sign right by my table that announced they had 12 kinds of beer in barrels on tap. That's quite something.
When I walked back to the underground bike parking, I ran into this swinging band and I could hear them from a distance. They were quite good and another one of those inexplicable things that happen in this town that I don't have an explanation for. Things just happen, I don't know why. There is always a party atmosphere. Music happens, bands happen. Clowns appear out of nowhere and stilt walkers and I don't know why. It's all a mystery to me.