On the 30th of August, we spent half a day in Maastricht, marking the first time I’ve left Belgium since the COVID-19 pandemic. We started the day with a guided tour of the North Caves in the St-Pieters hill, a bit to the south of the city. The first tour of day starts at 11 ‘o clock. We were a bit early, which allowed us to have a coffee and to walk around the ruin of  Fort St-Pieter, offering a nice view over the city’s skyline.

We were part of a small group of 13 people. The guide toured us for about an hour through the man-made labyrinth, showing us charcoal drawings on the walls and the vault created in second world war to protect art from the violence and destruction. Rembrandt’s The Night Watch was rolled up and stored there for three years. We had three lanterns, one for the guide, one for last person and I carried the third one in the middle of the group. Without the lanterns, logically, it’s pitch black which the guide let us experience for a brief moment, to the exaggerated horror of some. Incredible that people have worked in these corridors for centuries, carving marlstone and hauling it out of the depths. Today, there still is one mushroom farm operational.

13th century St. Servatius Bridge over the Meuse river.
The first fossil of a Mosasaurus was found in these caves.

We decided to keep the car parked at the Fort. With €6.50 for a day, it offers quite cheap parking compared to the downtown parking garages. and go on foot to our lunch reservation at Harry’s Restaurant in the city center on the other side of the Meuse river: a nice twenty-something minute walk, which led us along the Jeker river and the Nolens park.

At the restaurant, we stared with some oysters and choice three dishes. These are small/medium sized and the concept of this open kitchen restaurant is that you pick two to five courses out of seven options, to create your own multi-course experience. We settled on three courses each. Only our first course choice was different: gnocchi for me and Beef tataki for TingTing, followed by Red Snapper and Guinea Fowl for both of us. Great meal, very fine, delicious food. I heartily recommend this restaurant.

Saint Jan`s church (not the bookstore)

After lunch we walked the city center visiting the ‘most beautiful bookstore‘ located inside an old church, which is indeed quite nice, and enjoying the overall atmosphere of the city with lot’s of people strolling the shopping streets and enjoying food & drinks on the many terraces. Although these looked inviting, we had a hard deadline to meet with the closing time of our smallest son’s daycare. So we headed back to the car and back to Belgium.

A nice day, in a nice city.

Den Haag

Aware of the terrible traffic on Holland’s motorways we made sure to arrive early in Den Haag (The Hague) and did so a little bit before 8 AM. We parked the car in the underground parking of the Spui, right in the center of Den Haag, under the New Town Hall. The parking is a bit expensive with 30 euro for a day, but the location and access to it, are marvelous. Across the Spui square there is the New Church, with it’s remarkable hexagon shape, but it was not open for visitors. We walked north to the Binnenhof where the first and second chamber of the Dutch parliament are situated, and the Hofvijver a large pond with a fountain.

Mauritshuis & Torentje
Mauritshuis & Torentje

From the edge of the pond we had a nice view of the ‘Torentje’, the official office of the Dutch prime minister and the Mauritshuis, the art museum that houses the Royal Cabinet of Paintings. We wanted to visit this museum, but it opens at ten and it was still before nine. So we had time to wander around a bit. The long drive to Den Haag and walking in the cool summer morning air had aroused some hunger, so we decided to try the breakfast at ‘t Goude Hooft, an inn with a large terrace, a bit to the south of the Binnenhof. The breakfast was extensive, with a selection of cheeses and cold cuts, croissants, fruit, coffee and a glass of prosecco, and delicious.

After breakfast we walked northwest to the Prinssessewal and the Paleistuin, a nice park next to Noordeinde Palace, the working palace of the Dutch King.

Noordeinde Palace
Noordeinde Palace

The park is nice, but nothing special. We heard the sound of hoofs, not surprising since we were near the royal stables, and saw a carriage with an eight-span in the street. Eight muscular black Friesian horses going for their morning exercise. We waited until the horses had disappeared through the gate of the royal stables and moved on to Noordeinde.  A street lined with art shops that brought us to the front of Noordeinde Palace.

We arrived back at the Mauritshuis at ten and were thanks to our e-tickets the first to enter the exhibition. To me, the five most remarkable pieces here are The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, View of Delft, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Rembrandt’s Self-portrait and Night Scene.  And my favorite is View of Delft by Vermeer.

After visiting the museum, we noticed the cheese market on the square besides the Mauritshuis. Due to the large breakfast, we left the cheese for what it was, and strolled through the city to the house of Spinoza, where the philosopher died in 1677. From there we headed north, crossing the Grand Market, to the Grote Kerk, the protestant church named for it’s high tower and the Old City Hall, with it’s distinguished red colored shutters. Like the New Church, the Grote Kerk was also closed for visitors. We continued further north and after about twenty minutes we reached the Peace Palace, which houses among some other institutions, the International Court of Justice.

Peace Palace
Peace Palace

Both the palace as the palace gardens are beautiful, but they are not accessible for visitors. We were now halfway between the city center and the Municipal Museum, the second museum of Den Haag we wanted to visit. The museum exhibits a collection of Piet Mondriaan and others of ‘De Stijl’ art movement. In the entrance hall we were greeted by a Panamarenko statue.

We walked back south to the 1813 square, commemorating the Dutch Independence after Napoleon, and had a drink at the Hooigracht. After this alcoholic intermezzo we visited the Escher Museum, dedicated to the Dutch graphical artist M. C. Escher. A bit to the east of the museum lays the Malieveld, a very large grass field, where we enjoyed some Poffertjes, traditional Dutch small pancakes. Having seen everything we wanted in the center of Den Haag, we went for the car and drove a few kilometers to the North Sea beach at Scheveningen. Here we concluded our visit to Den Haag with a mango-coconut ice cream, that we ate in an ice cream parlor while looking at the North Sea.


Den Haag is a nice and clean city, ideal for a one day visit. The churches are closed, and bakeries very hard to find, but you’ll trip over art shops and there are several museums and art works that make it a journey worth to take.