Every city has its quirky side – whether it be from the art, architecture, or everyday lives of its residents.
Maastricht boasts its own small animal park with impressive peacocks, deer and noisy chickens. But perhaps most enthralling is the crow that spends its time perched on the back of the resident goats. For anyone who has a good knowledge of Gothic literature, knows the significance of goats in mythology, or who is just disturbed by the fact goats have rectangular pupils, there is no end to how unsettling this image is.
Round the corner in the park is the artwork De troostmachine, or The Consolations Machine, created by Michel Huisman. Set in sunken cage which was once used to house bears, the artwork shows a naked woman caressing the head of a dying giraffe. A zebra walks around the pit and looks pleadingly up to viewers. The piece was created to highlight the plight of endangered animals, questioning how long it will be before even familiar creatures make it on to the at risk lists.
Periodically the artist dresses the woman, once notably in a wedding dress. But even she is unlikely to be as memorable as the bride captured as she made her way to the town hall round the back of the city’s weekend market stalls.
While the skies were grey, there was still plenty of colour to find.
One of the most popular attractions in the city is it’s branch of the Selexyz chain of bookshops. With property at a premium in the city’s narrow streets, the store opened up in the former Dominicanen church. Taking advantage of the space on offer, the shelves are built high up towards the ornate vaulted ceiling. And the seats of its cafe are set around the altar.
Prior to the bookshop moving in, the church had been used as a bike shed. At least a bookshop feels a little more elegant.
It is also home to great hot chocolate, simply dunk your chocolate-coated wooden spoon in hot milk and experience joy. Yum.
The Dutch love their bikes and you’ll find them in hallways, outside shops and lined up in front of the city’s railway station.