Flaming Jean-Pierre

Finding vegan food on the continent is not that easy – thank goodness for the Chinese restaurant!

After a delicious tofu-rich dinner, we took a walk around Maastricht taking in the city walls, the bastions, (large pre-Napoleonic earth and stone battlements), a catholic shrine, a Synagogue, the chiming town hall clock (If you’d like to hear that you can watch a short video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JobCvmPP9E0

We also saw lots of bikes at night and a flaming statue. When I say flaming, I don’t mean an annoying statue, but one that is literally on fire. It commemorates one of Maastricht’s famous sons – Jean-Pierre Minckelers. Jean Pierre was a local philosopher and scientist who is credited as the inventor of illuminating gas. As with most of these things he was trying to find something else – which gas would be best for getting hot air balloons to float. It sounds like science has a long history of attempting to find out the ‘things that are not very useful for many people’, a bit like the recent research to find out how long you can dunk a biscuit before it drops into your cup. Anyway Mr Jean-Pierre Minckelers struck lucky and found out the best way to illuminate gas and to thank him for it – his home town gave him a flaming statue.

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