Thursday, 13 November 2014

Ghent and Maastricht

Over the past couple of weeks I have been to both Ghent and Maastricht, the former being in Dutch-speaking Belgium, and the latter being in the (Dutch-speaking) Netherlands.

I found it astounding that only an hour or so away from where I live (and in other places closer than that, too), there can be a city where there is no French, and speaking French will get you looked at very funny. Similarly, in Li├Ęge, where I live, there is only French, and Dutch speakers are not really given the time of day.

We had a lot more success speaking in English and German to get ourselves understood. I think it is unlikely that the people there actually had studied German, but depending on the topic, there can be a lot of mutual comprehension between Dutch and German, so we got by solely on that basis.

Here are some pictures of our day in Ghent. I would highly recommend the castle Gravensteen, which young adults can get into for free or for very cheap depending on their age.

I found that the feel of both cities were similar, probably because of the Dutch language and culture being shared across the region. It was also fun to see how much I could work out by myself, for example this sign saying 'niet roken' (no smoking) is very similar to the German 'nicht rauchen'. Of course, you could just look at the picture, but what fun would that be?

It only cost me around 7 euros for a return ticket to Maastricht which, for anyone who has experienced train ticket prices in the UK, is astonishing. I know the UK is bigger and more spread out, but seriously!

I am pretty sure I turned up in the middle of Carneval (a European festival), which meant that I didn't get to see all I wanted to see on account of party-goers being everywhere, but I still really liked the atmosphere of the place. Needless to say, it only took me a matter of seconds before I was almost floored by a bicycle (especially likely as I expect traffic to be coming from the other way), but hey, it was a great day. Here are some pics of Maastricht:

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