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Places Around Maastricht: Aldi

Type of Place: Grocery Store
Location: several; Most central is at Plein 1992 25; 6221 JP Maastricht

Maastricht has lots of places you can buy food, but there are times when you need to something to eat and you don’t have a lot to spend. Aldi is a small, discount grocery store available in many cities throughout the Netherlands. Unlike larger chains like Jumbo and Albert Heijns, Aldi doesn’t have its own brand and products are simply shelved in their packaging boxes. But if you can get around the cut-rate look of the stores, the deals inside are well worth your time.

I find the best way to treat Aldi is to learn what products you like and then use the store to supplement your regular grocery shopping. Personally I purchase paper products, vegetables, and dairy there, but only rarely pick up fruit and never get the lunch meats. Their produce can be very hit and miss and while you can work around that with a bag of carrots; hand fruit needs to be fresh or you’re just wasting money. I can’t stand the spaghetti they have in stock either; its too thick. On the other hand, their frozen pizza is half the price of similar pizzas at AH and taste nearly as good as the take-away stuff from the restaurant downstairs, so we always buy frozen pizzas there if we need a quick dinner. After shopping Aldi, I take advantage of the greater variety at my local Albert Heijn to fill in the rest of my grocery needs.

In addition to food, Aldi frequently has a mix of non-food products ranging from shirts or gardening goods to laptops. I presume this is overstock from some store or another and occasionally worth a look. As with the food, what you buy will be determined by the quality you need and whether or not you can overlook the lack of variety that a discount shop has.

Logo is (c) Aldi

Places Around Maastricht: Carnival Costume Edition

carnival costumesType of Place: Costume Shops
Location: Around Markt Square

In honor of the Carnival season, I thought this late-breaking costume edition was appropriate. As the actual event draws near several costume shops have popped up in the center of Maastricht; three of which I have visited and will touch on below.

Rode Neus

Located on Grote Gracht 48a, Rode Neus is a temporary costume shop taking up three whole store fronts and filled from tip to stern with all sorts of costumes organized by theme and color. In addition to some off the shelve halloween fashion wigs and scary props, they carry colorful furry coats, shiny ruffle shirts, and big plushy, one-piece animal suits. The popular “Ren Faire” garb is as available here in a variety of styles and price points; making many of the costume styles accessible to a range of people. The prop selection is nice, but if you can’t find what you need definately skip over to one of the other shops for a quick look. Rode Neus does not take PIN or credit card.

Carnival Shop in ‘t Panhuis

In ‘t Panhuis, located on the Markt Square near the McDonalds, is the only permanent carnival shop. It is a long, dark, and narrow space with has costume wigs, props, and add-ons (like wings and hats) to spice up your main costume. The rest of the year the shop carries sewing material and a range of Dutch gifts such as fake delft pottery, tulip bulbs, and clog-shaped slippers. Some of those regular wares are available this time of year too, so if you need some props or are sewing your own costume this is well worth a stop.

Carnaval Shop

Carnavalsshop ‘T Mooswief

‘T Mooswief is the temporary brother of in ‘t Panhuis located on Hoenderstraat 5-9 near the river.  The store is smaller than the Rode Neus, but makes up for its size with an excellent selection of fabrics in the back for those who wish to make their own costumes. This is one of the only times you can buy fabric in a store in the center of Maastricht; the rest of the time you must go to the Wednesday Open Market. The costumes in this shop are, unfortunately, rather disappointing; mostly remnicient of polyester Halloween fare. However, the wig selection is different from the other shops, so if you’re looking for just the right hair piece it can be worth the trip.

What Should I Wear

While colorful and foppish 18th century(ish) Dutch garb appears to be very popular, nearly anything goes for Carnival costumes. Unlike Halloween (which is the only other dress-up holiday I’ve celebrated), the costumes focus on fun, silly, weird, and crazy things, rather than frightening ones. Some of the best costumes; particularly the ones in the parade, are very creative and require a team of people to pull off. Many people wear masks or paint their faces as well. Check out this flickr stream for a little inspiration.

Places Around Maastricht: Kattenhotel "de Gelaarsde Kat"

Type of Place: Boarding House for Cats
Location: De Beente 28; 6229 AV Maastricht

One of the biggest problems with traveling on vacation is finding a home for our two cats. Especially over the holidays when we don’t want to impose on others. For the period over Christmas and News Years this year, I took advantage of advice received at and booked a room for our pets at Kattenhotel “de Gelaarsde Kat” (Puss in Boots).
“De Gelaarsde Kat” is a cat-only boarding house near the University Hospital. It is associated with a veterinarian office, Dierenstkliniek Kusters, so we knew that they could care properly for our pets and provide any medical services they needed. The kattenhotel asked that we have vaccinations up to date and that both cats had been pretreated for fleas. While they do provide food, our cats are on a special diet and so we brought their specific food with us.
Inside the boarding house is a nice set up. Each cat (or pair of cats if owned by the same person) had its own moderately sized cage, litterbox, and feeding area. During the day, the doors to the cages were propped open to allow all the cats to get some exercise and interact. There is even a fenced-in outdoors area on a porch. Our cats have never been outside or with other cats, so it much have been quite the experience for them.

cats on my suitcase

"You're going where? We don't think so!"

In the end I was pleased with their service. Both cats were happy to see us when we went to pick them up and if anything looked like they’d dropped a little weight (a good thing). Agatha was perfectly healthy and had gotten over the stress of the location. Einstein came back with a bit of a cold which has since past. He also had a tiny scratch on his nose. I don’t know who put it there, but since he is twice the size of all the other animals at the boarding house, I can’t imagine he came out worse in that tussle. We will take our cats back there again on the next holiday.
The Kattenhotel “de Gelaarsde Kat” is open 6 days a week and boards cats year around. They serve Royal Carin food, both dry and a little wet. The prices start at 8 euros per night per cat, with discounts for more cats and longer stays. Please visit the website for more details or call. The staff does speak English (and Dutch of course).

Places Around Maastricht: La Papiers

La Papiers in Maastricht

La Papiers in Maastricht

La Papiers is an example of a small shop that has conformed to the odd spaces left by generations of architects and builders in old cities like Maastricht. Located along the river Maas, this small paper and stationary shop has taken up residence under a double staircase leading to the top of the old city wall. As you stroll by, the only thing you’re likely to notice is the small, unassuming sign atop a bright red door. But when the store is open, it is like looking into a surprising and magical space built under the wall.
Once inside the store you will find a small and eclectic stationery store. When I visited, the store had a variety of holiday decorations and cards in nostalgic and rustic designs. The store also carries large sheets of decorative paper that could be used for wrapping or paper crafts and a selection of stationary for all occasions. Handmade paper boxes and journals are also available. Finally the store has a selection of offbeat, attractive jewelry at the counter.
I’ve not actually made a purchase at La Papiers yet because I do not yet have a need for this sort of decorative paper and all the communication I do these days is by e-mail. Still I have a very special place in my heart for paper and all the ways it is used, so this shop is a small gem that appeals to my creative side. It is probably the sort of store I will visit if I am looking for a very specific type of paper for a project or to purchase a gift for another paper-lover.
(Open hours to come.)

Places around Maastricht: Amazing Oriental Aziatische Supermarkt

Amazing Oriental

Watch for this banner to find it.

Type of Place: Asian Grocery Store
Location: Mosae Forum, underground
Brand-new in October, Amazing Oriental, is a moderately sized (for the Dutch) Asian grocery store located near the Markt square in the underground level of the Mosae Forum. The new shop is clean and bright with a “fast food” stand at the entrance for lunch on the go. They have a nice selection of prepackaged, frozen, and fresh foods, and the vegetables tend to be ones you won’t see in your regular Albert Heijns. Many of the products appear to be Indonesian in origin, but there is also a variety of food from any other Asian country you can think of. Of course you can get a great deal of rice in bulk and Amazing Oriental carries some beer and wine as well.
In addition to the food and drink aspects of the store, an aisle of cookware and dishes will ensure that you have all the right tools to prepare a small feast. The prices are reasonable and probably comparable to what you might find in the regular grocery stores.
vegetarian fish

The oddest item I found at the shop: a "vegetarian" fish

Being a fan of Asian cuisine and a cook that likes to try new things occasionally, I was pretty excited about Amazing Oriental opening up here in Maastricht. I was spoiled in Boston by having a large Asian grocery store just a 15 minute walk from home. It was a great store, but fishy smelling. Amazing Oriental does not have a fish or meat counter, so it ought to stay a pretty pleasant shopping experience. In fact the strangest item I found in the store is only shaped like a fish. Once you have picked up everything you can there, you can swing by Jumbo next door and wrap up the rest of your grocery shopping. I look forward to shopping more at Amazing Oriental and maybe even making my super miso soup in the near future.
This blog article is dedicated to NaNoWriMo 2009. Please sponsor me and my goal of write 50,000 words by making a donation to the Office of Letters & Light.

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