All paths lead to Maastricht

I spent my final week in Europe in the city I love best with the people I love most – Maastricht.

Eight exchangers planned to meet back in Maastricht after our individual summers of backpacking. Most of us had intercepted paths once or twice along the way – but everyone came back to Maastricht with stories to share. I came rolling into Maastricht after an overnight stop in Cologne, Germany:

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We all meet by the Maas Lake and spent our first afternoon outside in the sun cheering as each new face made it to our meeting spot.

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Over mint lemonade and stroopwaffles we laughed, cried, and lived through the adventures of each other. Pat rocked up with painted toes:

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Pat’s blue toenails are actually quite a bizarre but accurate representation of our summers. Each of us made it back to Maastricht slightly different. Subtle differences – all with a little more color and experience in our lives. In the schemes of the strange, exhilarating, and boundary-pushing few months, Pat’s toenails fit right in. With all the unique cultures and differences we experienced, we welcomed an odd toenail color. Pushing boundaries is pushing one’s perception of “normalcy” and when boundaries are expanded, so too are the differences between people that one can accept. It is such a wonderful perspective to accept people as they are, and grow from differences. In that sense, traveling is an accepting nod at Pat’s blue toenails. Traveling is bipartisanship. Traveling is embracing cultural differences. Traveling is loving others as they are.

I’d call us professional hanger-outers after the week we spent together in Maastricht. Kate captured some of our “hangout” existence on her photo blog, The Analogue Future:

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We spent lazy mornings in Annie, Casey and Jimmy’s apartment eating fruit and one morning really awful pancakes courtesy of Kate and me. During the afternoons, we roamed Maastricht; walking on the cobblestones that led to the places we had grown to love throughout the city.

The Meuse River:

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The Vrijthof

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Selexyz Bookstore – located in an old converted church:

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The Old City Wall

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De Hoge Brug leading to Center Céramique (Modern bridge)

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City Hall in Markt Square

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Asseblief for now, Maastricht, and thanks for an incredible half year. I could not have hoped for a better city to call home. More importantly, I could not have a better group of friends to call my family in Maastricht. Prost to growing together, to experiencing life together, and to all the adventures that our futures hold!

Cheers, Maastricht!

Posted on by Reagan J Payne in Part II, Uncategorized

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