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DAY 148 - Friday 25th September - Maastricht to Westerlo

'Groundhog Day (well more like Groundhog Night)'

A quiet evening, chapters of my book read and soon turned into bed, sleeping with not a stir in the night, not even the flickering of the street lamps disturbing me as I snored away...well that was until Ellie at 1am was standing right on top of my as i lay, licking my face and stamping her eagerness on me to wake on up. This could only mean one thing...she needs to toilet!! So as its cold out, and getting colder inside, with slight hesitation i resist getting out of my sleeping bag in the hope that she just wants a cuddle...nope definitely wants out! Body out of the warm ish sleeping bag and into the cold interior, jumper on, coat on, joggers on, socks on, boots on...yes yes Ellie i'm rushing i promise, just because you can rise and toddle off with a permanent coat as your only clothing!

Ellie's lead on, door sliding open and off we go but as we are on an industrial estate we are on a mission to find the holy grail of that tiny bit of grass to use as a toilet, as only grass will only do for my girl! After a desperate Ellie finally finds her very spot i see now what the pressing issue was and its an upset tummy after seeing what liquid has just come out the far end! The deed is done and we head on back to sleep to re-energise ourselves with this interruption as we have an early start to begin our adventures as dawn comes. 2am Groundhog Day, Ellie standing right on top of my as i lay, licking my face and stamping her eagerness on me to wake me up. Really, really, are we really really sure?!? So body out of the warm ish sleeping bag and into the cold interior, jumper on, coat on, joggers on, socks on, boots on, Ellie's lead on, door sliding open and off we go. Another grass spot is found as you can't go to the same place twice.

Yep she certainly did need the toilet once more and once more the tummy is still upset bless her as my brain racks back and forth to remember what she may have eaten today to cause this. The deed is done and we head on back to sleep...3am Groundhog Day, Ellie standing right on top of my as i lay, licking my face and stamping her eagerness on me to wake me up. Am i reliving the dream, are we seriously still needing the toilet?!? Seems so, so body out of the warm ish sleeping bag and into the cold interior, jumper on, coat on, joggers on, socks on, boots on, Ellie's lead on, door sliding open and off we go.

Yep toilet was required once more, what is it that she's eaten?!? This happened a couple more times in the night to early morning so at 7am we just got up to get ready for the off as weren't allowed to be here after 8am anyway. Mind you being in an industrial estate isn't one in which i was planning on wanting to spend my morning in anyway! With a car pulling up to the shop, manager looking personnel, we get in gear and to head away at 7.30am and back to the said castle. We sit waiting for the gates to the interior car park to open as we sit outside and then i ask, 'what time does it actually open?!' As i sit and wait i'm still not sure that this is what i'm meant to be seeing but a castle is in my head for some reason in Maastricht to see. Is there more than one i suddenly think, that old classic?!

As i look around its still not quite sitting right, its called a castle this place and its in Maastricht but its really nothing impressive to see from the car park views at least; and as i look into the distance, over the other side of the river, higher up in the mountains, i see another castle type looking building. Could i be on the wrong side of the river....hmmm, I'll hold that thought until the gates open here and then it happens, it is the moment of truth, the gates are finally open! I decide to take a little walk on through first, without Ellie, just to have a look around. Hmmm, not quite what i was expecting but there is a road/pathway in which I could head over to the other castle type building on the other side...but i can't see a bridge.

Next i decide to head back to drive on through the gate as there was apparently another car park further up but as i followed the path i suddenly slam on the brakes...now this doesn't make sense at all. There was an e-z up, a marquee as it were, getting dressed with tables, looking like it was setting for a wedding...right on the roadway!!! I was just too tall to drive on under it but it didn't seem best to do so and i saw nothing ahead other than moving further away from this castle called place and no bridge to get to the other one i could see in the distance. Abort the mission, abort, abort, abort!!! What next to do.....

I sit and think....and think....and think....this could take awhile!! Hmmmmm, what to do. One idea springs to mind and i grab the old sat nav and input places to visit nearby and another castle in Maastricht seems to pop up, popping up in the direction of the other one over the river...could it be, could it be that i'm at the wrong one?! So getting petrol on route (gutted now having to pay Netherlands prices) we head on off to the other castle and 20 minutes later sat nav says that i've arrived but i'm not really seeing anything. We are technically where the other castle is that i saw in the distance but on closer inspection there isn't really a speculator sight to see so i head back to whence i came.

Back at the car park and not really knowing why i've come back to here, i decide to head to the nearest McDonalds as i'm still not wishing to spend money on data allowance, definitely gone over the budget and with Mel still to come for a mini break need to hold back so i need free internet! All i need to do is just find out as to why it is i am here as i deleted the screengrab of this town thinking the Netherlands was done and dusted on my phone. Hitting their car park the wifi signal isn't quite reaching the van and so i need to head into the toilets to hide myself and get the webpage back of what the top 10 things were to do in the Netherlands. One slight issue, the toilets are not hidden from the counter like the others so i get a hello from the server as i enter and go past her to the toilets, the guilt is set in and i feel like i have to buy something now on the way out.

Okay, website found and nope its certainly not what i'm meant to be seeing, and its certainly not even a castle i'm meant to be here for!! Its not a church, a monument, a building, a park, a canal, a harbour...what's really here to see is...wait for it....a Square!! McDonalds free wifi done and i manage to sneak out without anyone at the counter for me to feel guilty for using the toilet for no food purchased. Mind you over the years of going into McDonalds and not using the toilets in 90% of those times then i'm due some freebies i feel! Into the outskirts of town and we find a spot to park up which wasn't too bad. With a quick look at the sat nav before it shuts down to point me in the right direction I should be heading onto by foot we find this beautiful Square in the old town of Maastricht, paved with old cobblestones and surrounding trees. There is an impressive Saint Servatius Church situation within alongside Saint Jan's Cathedral.

As you walk around you do so in Spanish and Roman ruins, sophisticated food and drink, French and Belgian twists in the architecture, a shrugging off the shackles of Dutch restraint even though we are still in the Netherlands. As we head back to the car, after putting a couple of hours on the meter, we walk over a rainbow zebra crossing and past a church that has been renovated to a very contemporary and highly priced 5* hotel with expensive cars sat outside with drivers in caps. Upon reaching the van i remember that today is in fact a Friday and it's only a week until i'm on the ferry to head our way home, 1 week after 21 weeks of exploring the western part of Europe, it seems to be going oh so quickly now. Oh wait, hang on, that also means that its one week to go until i'm back to work!!

Now what to do next as it's time to slow on down so that we don't get to Bruges too early for Mel and after a really rubbish night with Ellie's toiletry needs i think we should head to a campsite and lay low to relax. There is a place found and after getting there at only 12pm i think an afternoon nap is in order with the hope that the internet will keep me entertained and blogs to be updated before i get home. Ellie does some more squirts and i hope that its all out of her system now, so that we can sleep through the night.

Posted by emmabrown1014 08:17 Archived in Netherlands

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