A Dodgy Taxi Driver
On my last trip I was travelling with a friend and so a couple of times we used local taxis to get back to our hotel at night. On the third occasion, picking up a taxi from the rank at the railway station, the driver took us the long way round, using the bridge further down the river.
When I pointed out to him that this wasn't the fastest, or shortest, route he shrugged and said something like "This is the way to your hotel."
When we arrived the meter read 12.85 and I told him that the last time we had travelled this journey we came across the main (new) bridge and the fare was only nine Euros. I said to him I'd pay but that I first wanted a receipt and that I would take it to the tourist office in the morning.
He printed off the receipt (pictured) and then grumpily agreed to accept nine. So I reckon he'd tried to pull a fast one, thinking I'd just got off the train.
So if in doubt about whether a taxi has taken you for a "ride" - do the same: Ask for a receipt and tell the driver that you'll check it with the tourist office.
- Budget Travel
- Beer Tasting
Reading a map!
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, the catchy title of the 1992 bestseller by John Gray, succinctly expresses an ancient dilemma. What--if anything--do men's and women's brains do differently?
The general statement that men and women respond and behave differently under the same circumstances is true; For example, from the crib, male babies tend to be more aggressive and females more passive. As adults, in spatial operations, men have the edge in such skills as negotiating a maze, reading a map, and quickly discriminating between right and left. Men also perform better than women when asked to visualize an object and imagine rotating it. On the other hand, women tend to perform better than men when asked to look at objects of different shapes, sizes, and colors, and then to group them in some order.
This still doesn't explian why Patricia turns the map all around when I'm asking for the road to travel, while I like the map at one point so I can better visualize our position. Help!
- Road Trip
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Internet Cafés Don't Open Until Noon!
In the morning of my second day in Maastricht, I wanted to log onto the internet to check my email. I located two internet cafés -- the first on Boschstraat near the Markt and the second on a small side street between the VVV and the Vrijthof. Neither was open until noon! They both had operating hours from noon to midnight. Apparently, they assumed that, with all of Maastricht's great bars and pubs, they wouldn't have enough customers in the morning to justify an early opening. Or, perhaps, the owners didn't think their employees would recover from their hangovers until noon? In any event, I thought the late opening time at both places was strange.
Wheeling luggage on cobblestone streets
It is a relatively short walk from the Central Train Station to one of the pedestrian/bicycle bridges over the river. However, if you are wheeling luggage, that walk is made more difficult because many of the streets and sidewalks in Maastricht are made of cobblestone. Bump, bump, bump, bump, .... This bumpy walk almost made me regret not taking the rip-off taxi ride from the station.
Taxi Rip-Off Alert!
When I got off the train in Maastricht with my luggage, I walked to the taxi stand outside of the station. In Dutch, I told the first taxi driver in line that I didn't speak the Dutch language. He spoke a little English, so I asked him how much to my hotel (and gave him the address). From a map, I knew my hotel was only a couple of kilometers away at the most. His reply was 12,50 EU. I knew that this price was too much, so I said forget it. Then, I walked to the last taxi driver in the line and asked him how much the fare would be to my hotel. He said that it wasn't that far, and that the charge should be 7,50 EU. However, he said that I would have to take the first taxi in the line because that was the rule. Not wanting to be ripped off, I decided to walk to my hotel.
In a less-developed country, you come to expect taxi rip-offs of foreigners. But in an upscale city like Maastricht in the Netherlands? The city should definitely crack down on this dishonest practice because it gives a bad impression to visitors. Also, I recommend that the city institute a flat-rate taxi cab charge from the train station to city center destinations like some cities such as Toronto have done for trips from the airport. Or, at a minimum, Maastricht should require taxi cabs to charge a uniform, metered rate based on the duration of the ride.
It's not compulsory, but there are coffeeshops in The Netherlands (Haarlem, Rotterdam) that use fingerprint recognition. This is basically to prevent minors and undesirable clients from buying. The fingerprint database is not useful for the police, as only date of birth and 47 recognition points of the fingerprint are registered.
The VOCM (Official Association of Maastricht Coffeeshops) has a website with one page in English. See link below.
And click here for a press article in Dutch.
Or click here for an article in English
Signs in Limburg dialect!
Those of you familiar with driving in USA will know 'out-of-state' destinations on signs are clearly marked. For example, in Massachusetts you'll see signs to Portsmouth NH, Providence RI, etc..
Try to get to Aachen or Liege from Maastricht and you won't see signs to "Aachen D" or "Liege B": you'll see a sign like the one pictured.
"Aken" is Aachen in Limburg dialect. "Luik" is Liege in Dutch!
I imagine that the construction we saw literally all over the city was temporary but it really spoiled our visit to Maastricht, every direction we looked we saw scaffolding, construction cranes and construction fences. I'm not sure if this was part of an attempt to beautify the city for a particular purpose or if it all just coincidentally was occuring at the same time...
If you decided to be a good temporary resident of the Netherlands and teach yourself some Dutch, you will find, in Amsterdam for example, that those nice tapes of yours correspond exactly to what people are saying, and you may even be able to function on some level.
But when you come to Maastricht, forget about it. The people in Limburg speak some crazy dialect you - and many non-Maastricht Dutch people along with you - will never understand.
Certain areas of the city are restricted for parking. Business' and private persons have to purchase a license to park here. Even if the space is available do not park there, since it means your car will be towed away and only released if you pay the fine. Hence if you see this sign - don't park there!
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
Tourist Taxi Tax!
No matter where you go in the world you are sure to find a horrid taxi. I was recently on a VT meeting in Maastricht, and I had to return to check in at the hotel as I was too early to do so earlier in the day, so I got a taxi to the hotel, and it cost me $4 euros, and a hour later I got a Taxi from the taxi rank outside the train station to the same location I left the VT posse. I noticed that the cab driver set the higher tariff on the meter!? The fare came to $8 euros... I didn't want to cause a scene and refuse to pay the fare, but I just said to the driver..oh this must be the special tourist tax, as it only cost me 4 euros earlier....?!
Maastricht is a very safe...
Maastricht is a very safe place to stay. No extreme crimes, no every day-robbery or killings. Of course there are, like everywhere else problems with pick-pockets and you must have some good locks on your bike. Maastricht has no particular unsafe ereas and in the center there are policecars riding during the night, so during the night it is not dangerous to walk your way from the pub to your hotel on your own. (But don't get too drunk, though, otherwise the police will get YOU!!!)
DANGER DANGER DANGER!!! Be careful when you travel to this absolutely quaint and welcoming city! Chances are its charm wins you over, you'll get addicted and you'll want to leave everything and move there! ;-)
The sign in this pond reads: No entry.
Basically it says that you are not allowed to enter the pond by court of law. Which is weird, because you normally only see these signs at private houses for instance. Sometimes you see - no swimming aloud - for instance at a pond. But never: no entry.
Beware of the beer
If you are in Maastricht be careful with drinking too much high octane beer and then trying to find you way back to your room.I wandered around Maastricht until 0400 trying to find my room.I would walk around a bit then stop into another bar and have another round.The local police even asked me if I was lost and I told them no I was a drunk Texan trying to find my room.They asked me were I left my horse and they drove away laughing.
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