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The province of Limburg is located in the southeast of the Netherlands. It shares its name with the Belgian province of Limburg. These two provinces used to be one, but were divided when the Netherlands and Belgium became separate countries. During the period of 1830 to 1839, large parts of what is now the Dutch province of Limburg were in fact Belgian.
The people in Limburg speak a regional language, called Limburgish, which is not just a dialect. The Dutch government recognised it as a regional language in 1997. This language is also used by a lot of the regional artists and bands. To make it even more complicated, Limburgish changes from village to village.
The southern part of Limburg is the the only part of the Netherlands that has actual hills. Here you can also find the highest point of the Netherlands at 321 meters above sea level. This point is the Vaalserberg, but it is also known as the 'Drielandenpunt' (Three ountries point) because it is at the point were the borders of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands meet. Until 1919 it was a point were the borders of 4 countries came together, the tiny state of Neutral Moresnet was the fourth country of which borders met at the Vaalserberg. In the North it borders to the Dutch provinces of North Brabant and Gelderland
As a blue ribbon the River Meuse (in Dutch: Maas) runs through the province from South to North, making it a major waterway for transport.
Limburg is an ideal place to get on your bike. There are many beautiful routes, which goes through the beautiful nature of the province. There is a special map for bikers which uses dots. By connecting the dots, you can create your own personal route for the day. This map is available at the tourist information shops throughout Limburg. The network even connects to routes in Belgium and Germany.
Ten kilometers north of Venlo, lies the little town of Arcen. The main attraction of this town are the Kasteeltuinen (Castle gardens) that surround the castle. In the gardens there is also a little zoo.
Venlo is the location of the Limburgs Museum (museum of Limburg). This museum tells the (recent) history of Limburg, but also has a lot of special exhibitions. It is located near to the trainstation.
Museum van Bommel van Dam is located next to the Limburgs Museum, this is a modern arts museum, with a very good collection, and good exhibitions.
The Sint Christoffel Cathedral is located at the market square. In 1410 works started on this late Gothic church. In 1661 the church got the label of a Cathedral, replacing an other church. In World War II, the tower was blown up by the Germans, one day before there retreat. After the war the tower was rebuild, although to a different design that the original tower. An earthquake in 1992 caused damage to the church. On top of the tower, stands a golden statue of Saint Christopher.
In Landgraaf you will find Snowworld the longest indoor ski slope of the Netherlands, and they even claim to be the longest indoor slope in the world. It is opened 365 days a year, so you go skiing in summer. There are 5 slopes, one of which is an official FIS slope, on which each year a run of the World Cup snowboarding takes place.
Carnaval is an event that takes place 40 days before Easter, and is held in every city, town and village. Carnaval starts with a festival in Venlo on Saturday, which is broadcast by regional and local TV and radio stations. On a number of stages artists bring their typical carnaval music. (which in general is folkmusic/polka, with lyrics in the local dialect)
The parade is the highlight of these days. Every town, no matter how small, has its own parade. Some parades have a theme, others don't. In some towns there is a farmer's wedding (usually on Monday or Tuesday), which is a fake wedding that takes place, and is just for fun. During the Carnaval people dress up (like Halloween in the US) and drink a lot. There are parties until early in the morning for a few days straight.
The O.L.S. is a gathering of marksmen guilds of both Dutch and Flemish Limburg. In the early afternoon there is a big parade through the town that organises the O.L.S. After the parade, there are prices awarded in all kind of categories ranging from the best marching band to the most beautiful Queen (every guild has a King. That's the man who won the marksmen contest of their own guild). The 6 chosen marksmen of every guild compete with each other to be the best marksmen of all guilds present. In 2007 there were 159 competing teams. They need to aim at small cubes mounted on a high beam, and each member of the team needs to shoot off 6 cubes. If they miss one cube the team can't continue. The team that doesn't miss wins the contest. The contest always continues a week later on Saturday, with a select group of contenders, as it gets too dark before there is a winner on the first day.
The O.L.S. is held on the first Sunday of July and is held in the town that won the marksmen contest the previous year. Last year's winner stages the festival, so the location changes every year, depending on who won the shooting contest, so it can be in either the Netherlands or in Belgium.
In Landgraaf you find the oldest open air pop festival: Pinkpop. It is one of the major music festivals in Western Europe, and always features a line up of modern rock and pop bands.
During the summer there are a lot of festivals in the province. In Venlo you will find the Zomerparkfeest, a 4-day festival at the end of the holiday season, with a broad programmation. (and important, for free). A little bit smaller is the ZOKS-festival in Blerick, that takes place at the end of june. Bospop in Weert aims to please to lovers of Bluesmusic and rock- (and sometimes metal) music. In Elsloo, just north of Maastricht, in july you will find Coninckxpop also a free festival with some surprises in the line-up.
In 2013, the Dutch throne was passed on to King Willem-Alexander and what used to be Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) will from 2014 become Koningsdag (King's Day). The date will be changed to the 27th of April, which is the king's birthday. In 2014 however it will be on the 26th of April because the 27th falls on a Sunday. On this day the streets of almost every sizable town in the country come alive with activity.
Limburg is, on average, warmer during the summermonths and colder during the wintermonths compared to averages in the Netherlands on the whole. It's mostly between 22 °C and 25 °C during the summermonths (daytime) and around zero or a few degrees more during the coldest winterperiod.
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Limburg has an international airport, near Maastricht and shared with the German city of Aachen, the Maastricht Aachen Airport (MST). Ryanair flies to/from Alicante, Pisa and Girona, Sky Airlines flies to/from Antalya, Transavia to/from Dalaman (Turkey), Faro, Heraklion (Crete), Kos, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Rhodes and Tenerife-South, and Amsterdam Airlines to/from Ankara and Kayseri.
The north of Limburg is not far from the Eindhoven Airport and Airport Weeze. For people the bigger airports: Düsseldorf International Airport or Cologne are the easiest ways to reach Limburg as they handle more flights than the other ones. Transportation to and from the airport in Amsterdam takes up to 2 or 3 hours depending on the means of transport and destination within the province.
Just like the rest of the Netherlands, trains will get you to the bigger cities and towns.
The main connections between Limburg and the rest of the Netherlands are the A2 motorway, that goes north to Eindhoven and eventually Amsterdam, and the A73. The A73 starts in Nijmegen and connects to the A2 south of Roermond. The A67 runs through the north of the province from west to east linking Eindhoven and Venlo, and continues into Germany where it is renamed to the A40. The border in Venlo marks the start of the German motorway A61 that runs south-east towards Cologne, Koblenz and Frankfurt.
The train route for Limburg is pretty basic. The trains from the north enter Limburg on the Western side of the River, and go to Venlo. From Venlo you can go to the east into Germany, to the west to Eindhoven or further south towards Roermond. In Roermond, you can once again go to Eindhoven (via Weert), and south to Sittard. In Sittard you need to know if you go to Maastricht or Heerlen, as this is the point where the tracks split up. From Heerlen you can go further to Aachen, and from Maastricht it is possible to go Liege.
Having a car allows you to get off the main routes, which can be an advantage if you want to see some of the smaller towns. In this part of the Netherlands you have to accept that buses and trains can't take you everywhere.
Buses run throughout the entire province, but the number of rides in the weekends can be a cause for problems if you want to visit a small village. Some buses have to be reserved upfront. The bus company might send a taxi or small van, if it is not profitable to send out a bus.
If you have your own boat you can visit the cities and towns on the river Meuse. In Maastricht it is possible to take a river cruise, and in the northern part a water taxi links the towns along the Meuse from Belfeld until Bergen (only in summer).
The specialty of this province is the vlaai. Vlaai is a pastry, with a diameter of maybe 30 centimetres. Vlaai can come in many shapes and tastes. It can be layered with all kinds of fruits (and decorated with whipped cream), it can also be layered with a pudding, which again can be decorated on the top.
Nowadays vlaai can also be bought in other cities in the Netherlands, but nothing beats eating vlaai in Limburg. It is very usual to have vlaai at birthday's, receptions and other celebrations.
Internet cafés are not as widespread as you would expect, but you can easily find one in the popular cities. Most hostels, hotels and camp sites have several computers, so you can keep connected with folk at home. Here is a list of internet cafés that could come in handy for travellers. Otherwise, most libraries have lots of computers and prices are around the €2-3 per hour range, although sometimes it can be even more expensive.
Wireless internet access using wifi is becoming more popular and is usually available at most hotels and increasingly at train stations. Also in trains (at least in most first class wagons, but also more and more in second class) and some buses you can use wifi. Finally, places like McDonald's and Starbucks have free wifi, and smaller individual business like cafés and restaurants are on the rise too offering these services. More often than not, these service tend to be free of charge, though there might be a limited time you can use the internet.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country code for the Netherlands is 31. The outbound international prefix is 00. The general emergency number is 112, like many other countries.
0800 numbers are toll-free and for 09xx numbers are charged at premium rates. Mobile phones have numbers in the 06 range, and calls to cell phones are also priced at higher rates.
From internet cafés, it is also usually possible to make long distance international calls. Like in other countries, telephone booths have almost disappeared, though some are still found around public transport stations, where you can use a few coins to make calls. It is only recommended for local calls.
The cellular phone network in the Netherlands is GSM 900/1800. The main providers of cell phone networks are KPN (Dutch only), T-mobile and Vodafone, who cover the whole country. Other operators, like Hollandsnieuwe, Simyo or Tele2, use one of these 3 networks basically.
It is best to buy a SIM card when in the Netherlands for use in your cellphone, as this usually works out cheaper than using the one from home. If you are planning to study or work in the country and stay for several months, buying a cellphone is the best option. A simple one, sometimes with €10 worth on it, can be bought from around €25. The simplest smartphones are around €75.
The rate for sending a postcard or letter up to 20 grams within the Netherlands is €0.64 (2014). Since 2010 there are stamps available for domestic post which no longer include the value in €. Instead, there are stamps available with either a '1' or a '2' as a substitute for value. The '1' can be used for letters and postcards up to 20 grams, while 20-50 grams require you to use the '2'-valued stamps (or two '1'-valued stamps of course).
Sending items to other EU countries and the rest of the world (there is one price since 2014) will cost €1.05. Stamps are sold at post offices, supermarkets and smaller shops/kiosks; often the place where you buy your postcards can also supply you with stamps.
Sending parcels abroad is more costly. A standard-sized parcel between up to 2 kilograms will cost you €9 for destinations within the EU and €18 (both without Track & Trace) to the rest of the world. Prices with Track & Trace start at €13 and €24.30 respectively. Parcel service is available from major post offices only; standard-size boxes are on sale there as well. For sending parcels, it might be just as competitive and fast to use a company like TNT, UPS or DHL.
If you need to receive mail while moving around, you can have it sent poste restante (to be called for) to a post office of your choice, where it will be kept for a month. If you come to claim it, bring a valid ID, and make sure to have told the sender that the name on the envelope must be an exact match with that in your passport. For addresses of post offices, as well as more information, consult the TNT website.
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