The town of Maastricht was put on the map after the treaty was signed for the European Union. Until my first visit, I had the wrong impression that it was a place for politics, like Brussels.
Unable to attend the market design conference held there, I decided to go before the conference to meet a speaker. But my three day trip became one of great emotional intensity, for it was a trip down memory lane for my friend who studied at the conservatory and a reunion with musician friends.
Probably the southernmost Dutch city of significance, Maastricht is not BIG by any standard. Dubbed the Paris of Holland, the old town of Maastricht is irresistible for any fashion shopper. Designer stores abound - and for this time of the year - huge sales lure the faint-hearted. I, for one, could hardly pay attention to the conversation of my new friends.
After a quick snack of herring sandwich, we walked on the cobbled streets to the old prison gate. The wall led us to the conservatory where a trio was rehearsing. We walked inside as if we were studying there.
For those that stayed, Maastricht gave them access to Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and France. For those that left, Maastricht is remembered as a place of music and trade-offs. To stay or to leave, that was the question.
9 July 2001