Type of Place: Cafe
Location: Vrijthof 15; 6211 LD Maastricht
We always call it “the ostrich place” because I can’t pronounce the name, but In Den Ouden Vogelstruys is actually a famous cafe that some believe is the oldest in Maastricht. The building with the golden ostrich on it has been around since 1309 and it is believed that some sort of food was served out of this building as early at the 1700s. The name itself comes from an ostrich egg reliquary that was kept in the St. Servatius Church. Exotic in its day, the shell drew pilgrims from all over to see it.
In Den Ouden Vogelstruys is a typical Dutch cafe located directly on the Vrijthof. It is very popular with locals and tourists alike, which can sometimes make it difficult to find a table. I’ve only been there for coffee, but it has a nice atmosphere and the inside is cozy and dark for those days when it’s too cold or rainy to be outside. It is also the only cafe on the Vrijthof with a menu in the local dialect rather than Dutch. Fortunately it isn’t too difficult to figure out. Next time I visit, I’ll be sure to try the vlaai.
Type of Place: Bookstore
Location: Dominikanerkerkstraat 1; 6211 CZ Maastricht
The Selexyz Dominican bookstore is located in a beautiful refurbished cathedral and features a nice Coffeelovers cafe and a moderately large collection of books for sale. The English collection is small, so you may have to dig if that’s what you’re looking for. Watch the video to learn more.
As promised in the video here are a couple pictures of the bookstore’s interior:
This video needs a transcript. If you’d like to help, please drop me an email.
One of the (admittedly few) things Maastricht is really missing for me is a good comic book store (I’d like to have a Jo-Ann Fabrics too, but at least there is the Wednesday market for that). When I lived in Boston we had a nice one within walking distance, and the city as a whole has a respectable number, plus a zine library for the underground set. Here? Nothing. I’ve learned that there use to be one, but it was closed due to the economic downturn a few years back.
So what’s a comics enthusiast to do?
Brussels is packed with comic book shops, but honestly it’s too far away for us to do regular trips. Instead we only have a few options if we want to visit a physical store.
As I’ve mentioned before, De Slegte here in Maastricht is sort of our local replacement for a comic book shop. The availability is fairly eclectic, a good thing for me. And a bit old, which can be good or bad. Although they don’t have the “feel” of a comic shop, the mix of European and American titles is pretty good and we don’t mind getting the discount books occasionally.
Located in Sittard, which is mercifully not far by train, Atomik is a comic shop proper with a large selection of old and new material, plus board games, role-playing games, and even a computer gaming room. We’ve only been over once or twice, but its a nice space with lots of material to browse. They have a handful of recent American comics in addition to the regular Dutch ones and even a small selection of indie comics/zines. Unfortunately they are only open a few days a week during the summer.
A recent Google search also turned up Comics 2000, which is apparently a shop in Valkenburg. They’re website indicates that you may have to “register?” to shop with them, but with a proportated large collection of comics, models, and other collectibles it might be worth a look. If anyone with better Dutch could clarify if that’s register for the online rather than the physical store, I’d love to know.
Do you know of any comic or hobby shops I’ve missed in the area?
Type of Place: side-street of restaurants.
Location: Koestraat, near the Onze Lieve Vrouw Square and Cathedral; 6211 Maastricht
A little something different for this week’s “Places”, Koestraat is not a single location, but rather a short, foot-traffic only street lined with restaurants. If you’ve grown tired of the tourists at the Vrijthof and want something a little different than the classic Dutch fair on the Onze Lieve Vrouw square, Koestraat offers a quiet, more intimate setting for dinner or drinks.
Dan and I typically head to Koestraat to eat at Thai Ichi, one of our favorite Thai restaurants in Maastricht, but this narrow street has a nice variety of other eateries available. There is an Indonesian restaurant, tea shop, a couple pizzerias, and more. Of particular note, although we haven’t eaten there yet, is the Beluga Nxt Door. This cocktail bar and restaurant is the “little sister” of the Beluga, a well-known 2 Michlien Star restaurant here in Maastricht. Most of the retaurants also have a little outdoor seating, which narrows the cobblestone street further and keeps foot traffic slow and (most) bikes out.
At the end of Koestraat, you’ll find the Bisschopsmolen, an active water powered grain mill and bakery. Pop inside for a tour or just to see the large waterwheel in the back. Seeing the mill is free, although the tour may not be.
Type of Place: Bookstore
Location: Grote Staat 53; 6211 CV Maastricht
Books can be more expensive here in Europe than they are in the US and, at least here in Maastricht, comics can be hard to come by. That’s where the three packed floors of De Slegte on the main shopping drag comes in.
De Slegte is a large used and discount bookstore chain. The location here in Maastricht carries a substantial mix of used fiction and nonfiction books, including a small selection of used English-language texts. Fiction books are organized by genre, with a section for English titles seperate from the Dutch ones. The Dutch titles are all over the place, but the English titles are mostly mystery and romance. Nonfiction books are, naturally, arranged by subject and the languages are all mixed in. While the prices are not rock bottom, you can frequently pick up a (comparative) deal on all sorts of things if you look hard enough.
They also have a small selection of antique quality books which, naturally, are quite expensive.
For the expat population, De Slegte is also a good stop for your Dutch learning textbooks and language dictionaries. Since there are always people going in and out of the classes, you can sometimes grab what you need for significantly less that it would cost at a regular bookstore.
For comic nerds like me, De Slegte is also the only place in Maastricht with a decent selection of European and American graphic novels and folios. Mostly in Dutch and English, De Slegte has a good representation of comics, although they do not stock American-style floppies or current releases. We use it to check out European titles we’ve never heard of before.
De Slegte is open Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am – 6 pm (opening late on Mondays and closing at 9 pm on Thursdays) and is well worth the occasional stop in to see what’s new.