The best Carnival? In Maastricht!

Carnival - special event when people dress up into funny and colourful costumes, drink and have fun. Exactly this happens in Maastricht every year and as I am here, I could not miss it. I experienced something incredibly cool and atmosphere in the whole city was just fabulous.

Carnival in MaastrichtCarnival in Maastricht, source: my picture

I was never a big fan of Carnival as I never had a reason to be. Maastricht is famous for holding up to the tradition so the only thing you can do to avoid Carnival is to get out of the city. Not my case. I was curious what it's gonna be. As I reported in November in article The beginning of the Carneval season, the Carnival in Maastricht changes the city. Really. And it was just a small introduction in November compared to current event. Preparations took several days – shops with big show windows put wooden boards for protection, different stuff coloured green-yellow-red decorated in the whole city. But what you could not see were the preparations made by the people – they created costumes, masks and carnival vehicles. I invited a friend who is now for exchange in Brussels to see it and she came with 5 other friends which was awesome. Happiness is real when shared Smiley :) So let's have fun!

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Opening Magic Maastricht with show

Winter time is already here and Vrijthof in Maastricht changed according to that - it provides Christmas market, ice rink and a big wheel. There is also an ice show accompanying the grand opening, let's take a look.

Christmas market in MaastichtChristmas market in Maasticht, source: my picture

I opened my university e-mail and I found a like to events in December. I saw there, that on Friday, December 2nd, there was a festive opening by mayor Hoes of the wintry event Magic Maastricht. The opening is a spectacular show with fairy-like, gigantic stilt-walkers and an acrobatic ice show. It took place on Vrijthof. Hm, Ah.. that was it, I was wondering what was going on, when I went to the . Sounded nice, so just after I finished my last dinner in second period of the eating experiment, I went home to leave my school stuff there, take my camera and to ride to the city centre, so I could be there at 17:30 when the opening should have started. The Vrijthof square was transformed into a large wintry landscape complete with an ice rink, a Christmas market, a big wheel and a grand merry-go-round, amongst other things.

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The beginning of the Carneval season

Today is Friday the eleventh of November and it means, that this year's Carneval season is about to start. Netherlands is quite popular with that, so let's have a look what the fuss is all about. Isn't it all just about opportunity to get drunk?

CarnevalCarneval, source: my picture

Today is for some people special, because someone could think, that today's date is magical. Well, It looks nice I must admit that. But I am now in Maastricht and for people in the Netherlands is today also the beginning of the Carneval season. The official start was announced to be at 11:11 on 11. 11. 2011. Here in Maastricht is the central place Vrijthof, so this is also the place which was prepared for this event. How prepared? There is a big stage, kioks with beer, toilets and also fence all around.

I was not sure, what I should expect and I also didn't want to be there alone, so I met there my Czech speaking friends and we went to the Carneval together. I didn't have any costume, shame on me, but I was just curious. My housemate warned me, that I didn't want to be there, because everybody is drunk there. Well, I am in Maastricht and Limburg people are crazy about carnevals, so I definitely have to see this. When I rode my bike to the city centre, I saw a lot of people heading from the Central train station to the city centre and everybody had a costume. I parked my bike at the library and walked to our meeting point.

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Registration at municipality in Maastricht

In order to be able to get my bank account at Rabobank and get tax discount I needed to get Dutch social (BSN) number, which requires registration of my stay in Maastricht at local municipality. The meeting was scheduled for today.

WorkersWorkers, source: my picture

The first strange thing is, that you actually need to make an appointment for that, and it can scheduled minimum 3 weeks after you ask for it. As I was there on the 3rd of October, I was offered the 24th, but I had planned my visit in Czech Republic for that date, so we scheduled it for today Monday, 31st of October, 9 a.m.

As I missed the green light at the traffic light near my place, I wanted to use the way around as usually so I could save time, but there is some construction work on the street. So I wanted to ride with my bike over the footpath for about 2 meters, and there was a fence on the road. An old nervous guy stopped me, that this ia a place for pedestrians and forced me to get of my bike for these 2 meters. I was really pissed off, because I was in a hurry, you cannot see anyone in a range of a few hundred meters except of these 2 guys, each of them on the other side of the construction (about 20 meters long), forcing people not to ride on bike on the sidewalk. Aahh… This has nothing to do with security as they do not protect anyone, it is only a big waste of money and people get annoyed. But these guys think, how important they are. They also are not pleasant to ask you kindly or reason why. So after this small incident, the rest of my way was ok.

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End of sunny weather – rain attacks

Weather changed. Last few weeks, we had almost summer – warm, no clouds, no wind. Quite an exception for Netherlands, but not any more. Rainy and windy autumn has arrived.

Rain behind the windowRain behind the window, source: my picture

I was really lucky (and everybody here in Maastricht) that the mother nature was so kind to us until now. For about 3 weeks, I could enjoy sun and ride a bike every day without getting wet. I made some bike trips around Maastricht but not to another cities, which I now regret a bit. Today, for the first time, I had to ride my bike in the rain. It's not pleasant, as my fingers and ears are freezing and then I sit in wet clothes in a cold room for several hours. As autumn is there, also wind gets stronger, which makes riding the bike really difficult. Combination of cold, wind and rain is exactly what I dislike.

Somebody told me, that the rain here is usually very strong and short. Well, It seems to be true, but I got really unlucky because it rained only in the time I had to ride on my bike to another part of the town. Great. But I do not want to be complaining only about the weather, because I was aware of that before I came here.

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Exploring Maastricht – my first days

City of Maastricht in Netherlands become a place, where I will spent next months. It's time to explore the neighbourhood and the city itself. We are lucky about the weather, so we have spent in the town not only the day, but we were also curious what the city looks like in the night.

Maastricht – right shore of MaasMaastricht – right shore of Maas, source: my picture

We arrived on Saturday afternoon, when we also made the first visit of the city. Maastricht's population is about 120 000, which is not that much actually, but the city is believed to be the oldest town in the Netherlands. It lies on the river Maas, so there are 5 bridges over the river. Two of them are for everybody also for cars in both directions, two are for bicycles and pedestrians only and one has restricted traffic. The oldest bridge is now in reconstruction. River itself is quite big, bigger than Moldau in Prag I would say. I also see quite a lot of ships there, so the river is used for transport.

I like historical places and the historical buildings all over the city are amazing! There are two main squares – Market and Vrijthof. Vrijthof is often used for concerts and festivals, there are every Wednesday and Friday markets on the Market. Smiley :D How convinient name for ths place in the city centre. There are also a lot of churches in Maastricht, but some of them are used for non religion purposes – like bookstore, kindergarden or place for celebrations. Quite a good idea, because the building itself is kept in a historical condition and the place itself is used very often by everyone.

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