This website ceased updating on March 19, 2012 and was archived on January 30, 2014. Links may be broken/misdirected and emails will not be replied to. Please use your best judgement when using this website. For more from the creator, visit

That’s a Wrap

And that’s all folks. Thank you very much for reading Maastricht Minutiae and sharing your questions and comments with me. I cherish my time in Maastricht, even the difficult bits, and being able to keep this blog and help others along the way enriched my experience. I hope to be able to visit the area again and hope all of you continue your international adventures.

Maastricht Minutiae will stay online for an indefinite period of time while I work on putting it and its content to bed. I hope to donate it to the Expat Archive Centre in Den Haag and with luck they will be able to maintain the website archivally. This means no new updates, but the content that exists will be available for future historians, researchers, and curious folks.

If you’re interested in following me across the pond, I am starting up a new website at This will be a personal and professional website where I catalog my projects and talk about my work and play. If we venture out of the Boston area, as seems likely, I’ll certainly be off blogging about location again. I hope to see you there.

Three Things I Already Miss

Since we’ve moved back to the United States I’ve had a bad case of comparison-itis. I suppose it’s only natural. After all we’re always looking for the familiar to hold on to, and while the Netherlands never fully became home for me, a lot of little things did rub off. I suspect that I’ll quickly normalize back into American culture But in the meantime, here are three things that I miss (and thing the United States would benefit from).

 1. Coins

Ok, so they would be dollar coins here, but I cannot believe America hasn’t gotten on board with the $1 and $2 coin concept yet. They are convenient, small, and the dollar is small denomination these days. The first time someone handed me back a fist full of dollar bills I wanted to demand coins. Why would I want a bunch of paper artificially inflating my wallet? We’ve even had the laughable $2 bill in this country. I’m getting use to it, but seriously America. The $1 coin’s day has come. Let’s switch over already.

2. Tax Included

I’ve always though tax included in the price is a great idea, but I really got comfortable with the idea while we were in the Netherlands. I know it would probably be tricky, with state sales tax being so variable, but the EU does it with the VAT. Tax included means I’ve completely forgotten how to do percentage math in my head (plus I think they changed the rates in Massachusetts just to confuse me). It also means nice round-ish numbers and fewer of those tiny denomination bills taking up space.

3. Beer

Ok, I know we brew a lot of beer in America, but Maastricht is kind of prime beer country situated as it is between Belgium and Germany. My favorite American brews are simply not as flavorful and interesting as the ones I could get in Maastricht. And don’t get started on the mass produced stuff. Hmm… maybe I should start an export business.



The people. All my friends.  I’m missing you guys. If I could bring you all with me I would. Of course, you might not all want to live on the Cape.

Bikes, Books, and Haircuts

Did I say I wouldn’t be writing about Maastricht anymore? Oh well. I lied. A few things have come up that I thought you all might be interested in. So here goes.

Bike Lessons

If you’re like me  you knew how to ride a bike when you came to the Netherlands, but you didn’t know the first thing about Dutch traffic rules or bike repair. Assume you’re on board with that comparison you also just jumped on your bike and muddled your way through new traffic signs, bike paths, and odd right-of-way situations while wondering what sort of illegal things you were doing on your daily commute. Enter the Maastricht Bike School. Just started up, Stuart is teaching a 3 part workshop about 1) How to ride a bike safely, 2) The rules of the road, and 3) Bike repair. Had this been around when we moved here, I would have signed up immediately.

I haven’t taken the workshops, but I know the owners and their great people. The courses are taught in English so if you’re new in town there is no reason not to get up to speed.

Books 4 Life

I recently got the heads up about another second-hand bookstore in Maastricht: Books 4 Life. Run by volunteers out of the basement of a UM building, they sell all sorts of second hand books (and will take donations too). The proceeds are donated to OxFam, Amnesty International and other charitable organizations. I haven’t been in person, but if you’re looking for some English language books for cheap it may be worth a trip.

(Free!) Haircut

This is probably of only limited value, but for a little longer you can get a free haircut at Toni & Guy as they train their newest stylist, Charlie. I went on Wednesday and am very pleased with the result. Charlie is currently training on short women’s haircuts (classic bob and shorter), so if that sounds up your alley, give the shop a call and arrange an appointment. If you have long hair or want a male haircut, Charlie told me she might need more models for those areas in the future. The number for Tony & Guy is 043 32 33 433 and they are located at Boschstraat 90 in Maastricht (generally in the area of Markt Square).

Hair Styling photo by ansik on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons-By Attribution license.

Bonnefanten’s Art Loan program

This article was originally published at Maastricht Region: to Live.

Want something special to hang over your fireplace (or big screen TV)? The Bonnefanten Art Museum in Maastricht has an interesting art lease program that will lead you something perfect for your space.

The first space I saw loaned Bonnefanten art was in my office building at the University of Maastricht. Some of the pieces were from an exhibit I visited at the museum last year, so it was interesting to see the pieces in a very different context. The artwork also really dresses the building up. The fact that I like modern art doesn’t hurt either.

The Art Loan program at the museum is based on a monthly membership automatically debited from your account. The level of membership you have determines how many works you may borrow at any given time and the total value of those items. Surprisingly these fees start at 5 euros per month; actually a reasonable rate for even the average contemporary art fan. All artwork is insured by the museum, so borrowers are only responsible for damage due to negligence.

You can learn more about the Art Loan program at the museum on their website or visit one of their Art Lease locations if you’re interested in getting a subscription yourself.

A Barefoot Walk in the Woods

This article was originally published at Maastricht Region: to Live.

I love being barefoot. In the summer I minimize my footwear as much as possible, and even in cold weather I’d rather be out of my boots than in them. So when my colleagues and I were surprised with a Blotevoetenpark visit as our Dag Uit activity, I admit I was pretty excited.

A “Barefoot Park” is more or less exactly what it sounds like. It is a natural space where you take off your shoes and hike simple trails through a variety of substances to enjoy being more connected to nature. Being barefoot is suppose to be quite good for your health (with some explanations more believable than others), and some people even run Marathons barefoot. Personally I like the feeling of mud swishing between my toes, so any activity that includes that already rates high on my list. It turns out that these parks are all over the place, so let me tell you a bit about the one in Brunssum.

The park in Brunssum features 4000 meters of trails featuring a variety of obstacles. Some of these are simply boxes filled with different types of stones or mulch.  Others are shallow(ish) pits filled with muddy water. Many were poles and posts of wood you were meant to walk on as you wandered through the woods. To keep things a bit fanciful, wooden faces and fairy dolls were scattered through the trees.

The most challenging part of the park was a series of posts you could use to cross a small pond from one side to the other. I suspect it was designed for people taller than myself, but we all made it across without any spills.

If you visit the Blotevoetenpark in Brunssum as normal visitors, you can expect a 1.5 hour visit on average with coffee/tea and snacks available when you’re done. If you go with a group, you also get a variety of trust-building exercises and a longish lecture on foot palmistry. If I were you, I’d forgo the lecture.

Personally, I’m ready to go back and will happily pay my 6 euros for the chance to wander barefoot in a natural setting again.

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