The city of Maastricht is quite different than other Dutch cities and we found the architecture is more French inspired. The city really gets into the spirit of Carnival with festivities kicking off Sunday at noon with a grand ceremony in the square. The Prince of Carnival arrives and raises a large Dutch marionette lady as a symbolic gesture accompanied by much pomp and circumstance with the city major and policticans.
After the official kick off, there is much drinking of beer and a major 3 hour parade through the main streets. Groups respresenting different interests, marching bands and individuals parade in costume drinking and cavorting along the way. It is quite entertaining although since our toes were freezing we had to escape before the end into a little heated area of an outdoor patio to warm up.
Wij dranken bierjes (We drank small beers) and visited many rowdy crowded establishments. We finally gave into the cold at about 6 and went back to the hotel. We decided to go for dinner and managed to find an open restaurant (many are closed). We ended our night with a bottle of wine (cause we just couldn't drink anymore beer) then made our way back to our hotel to fall in bed. Very fun! Next year we hope to convince a group to go and also that the weather is much better!