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A Winter(wonder)land Cloaks the Vrijthof

winterland maastrichtThis weekend Maastricht’s annual Winterland fair opened on the Vrijthof; offering carnival rides, a Christmas market, and loads of gluhwijn. A large man-made ice skating ring dominates nearly a third of the square and a ferris wheel towers over the event, making it impossible to miss from nearly anywhere in the city.

Dan and I visited Winterland on both Saturday and Sunday. Partially so we could sample the food stalls; mostly because I forgot my camera the first time. I’m under strict orders from the husband not to ice skate with my hand in a cast (I haven’t been on skates since my teen years), so we restrained ourselves to eating and shopping.

Christmas Market
A large portion of Winterland is dedicated to a sizable Christmas market selling everything from coats to bells to electronic decorations. The stalls are housed in a series of circular buildings with white, snow-like peaked rooftops and linked to each other in sets of two or three. I was thrilled that the shopping was indoors. Saturday’s rainy weather would have placed a damper on any serious gift shopping. Wares at this event seem to lean more towards the handmade and small business variety than the Velvet Cave’s market in Valkensburg. We may be doing some shopping for family at this market, so I will refrain from sharing my favorite things.

WInterland 2009 Santa Display

I won’t refrain from sharing our snacking experiences. We tried all sorts of sweet and savory treats; our favorite was a sort of deep fried potato patty served with appelmoe (apple sauce). They were crunchy with a soft interior. The oily, salty taste of the patty was delicious with the sweet, cool apple sauce. We also tried some warm Belgian chocolate, oliebollen, krokets, and fries (without mayo). All tasty. It was a little odd that most of the booths and menus appeared to be in German rather than Dutch, but we are very close to the border.

Gluhwijn Snowman Mugs
Another great holiday treat is gluhwijn; a sweet, warm spiced wine traditionally served around Christmas in several European countries. I love mulled beverages of all stripes, so this is right up my alley. I’ve even heard rumor of gluhbier? I’m not sure what that would taste like. The Winterland gluhwijn is served in collectable mugs ranging from the cute to a, somewhat, classier frosted glass. We got a pair of snowmen mugs. Who could resist their slightly kitche charm?

Despite the wet weekend, I had a lot of fun. Could this be the start of a new Potter tradition? Time will tell.

Check out more Maastricht (and regional) Holiday events on Crossroads Magazine.

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