Living large on a living barge – 9

by Tom Miller

Tom and family are touring Europe by barge. This is the ninth in his series of reports on what is to be six months per year of cruising the waterways there.


A tight fit through the Maastricht tunnel and an even tighter harbor ahead. Our friend Rein watches as the Harbormaster offers a little body English to help get our bow into the tunnel.

With all this excitement I need a vacation?  We tied up in our favorite harbor in Holland, but once again they were never thinking of Rabelo when they built the Maastricht Marina. As bad as Tilburg’s harbor was Maastricht’s was ten times worse.  When Wilco first called the harbormaster he refused to let us in.  He said we were too big.  Just because the harbormaster said no doesn’t mean we gave up. Wilco had a friend staying on his beautiful 60 ft boat in Maastricht, so we asked him to call the harbormaster.  Apparently Wilco’s friend can be very persuasive, as he was able to get permission for us to stay four days. We eventually learned that the regular harbormaster was on vacation, and a temporary harbormaster was running the place.  Fortunately the replacement harbormaster was far more understanding, incredibly helpful, and much better looking.

Lisa and I had such fond memories of Maastricht when we were there nine years ago on our last barge Tigre Rose.  The harbor was right in the middle of town with shops and restaurants all around us.  In fact Lisa went to a hair salon nine years ago that was right next to where we were tied.  She said it was one of the best haircuts she had ever gotten, and was looking forward to going back.  The salon was still there, but it was closed.  When we asked around they said the owner had retired the  month before.  Don’t you just hate it when that happens?


Wilco and I taking apart the pilothouse to pass safely


Tied up in Maastricht’s inner harbor. Note the tunnel in front of Rabelo.

While we were in Maastricht the famous Dutch violinist Andre Rieu was playing a concert.  It is his hometown, and he has a house that looks over the river. They had to bring in the entire stage, all the lighting, and 5,000 seats.  The concert was sold out, but you could still get scalper tickets.  We debated, but finally decided not to buy them.  It was probably a mistake.  We walked over while the concert was going on and stood just outside the fence.  A couple of restaurants had set up televisions so we could watch the concert, and hear it from the other side of the fence.

Meeting our friend Ilana at the train station

Meeting our friend Ilana at the train station


Some interesting architecture

Maastricht is a vibrant, beautiful European city with a wonderful Farmer’s Market, great shopping and exciting architecture both new and old.  It will always be one of our favorites.



Tom Miller is an adventure writer from Thousand Oaks. His novel The Wave, about a tsunami destroying Honolulu was published in 2010. Tom has a degree in geology, has been a contractor and developer, prolific diver, pilot, sailor, and barge captain. When he’s not chasing adrenalin overseas, he hikes with the local “Heartbreak Hiking Fools.” LIVING BARGE is his memory of his recent six month journey through the canals of Europe with his wife Lisa.




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