A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Probably the best thing about living in Europe is the feasibility of crossing borders and country-hopping in the blink of an eye (metaphorically). Leiden is a wonderful city of course, but after more than a month of staying here it’s more like a home, and it just feels not right to stick to one place when you have the whole Europe to enjoy with. So, last weekend, I just casually dropped by dropped by Maastricht, Liege, and Aachen. You read it right, 3 countries in 3 days, it’s completely possible and that’s the beauty of living in Europe.
Instead of writing down as a memoir, I figure it would benefit more people if I put more focus on giving practical information and tips, as I understand that, as easy as it may sound, traveling in Europe still requires a whole lot of planning and researches. I myself really appreciate those travelers who are really detailed about their trip, so I hope my travel journal, this one and more in the future, will help avid travelers out there, especially those who depart from Leiden or the Netherlands, the same way too.
So, starting with practical matters~
Probably the most important and most difficult thing to plan if you have a tight budget like me. The rule of thumb that applies to almost every part of Europe is the sooner the better. Belgium and Germany are pretty close to the Netherlands so you can be more relaxed, but still, research and book early to have the best price!
For example, from Leiden to Maastricht we took the train using the NS group ticket which cost only 7 EUR/person. This is a super economical choice when you travel across the Netherlands. The basic idea is the more people the cheaper it gets. There are 2 Facebook pages (here and here) where you can find people who want to travel to the same destination and can share the group ticket with you. Read the instructions on those pages and you’ll find out how it works. Note that this promotion only lasts until the end of 2015, so be sure to take advantage of it. Only 7 EUR for a round-trip ticket from anywhere to anywhere in the Netherlands!
For international trains a good platform to find tickets is b-europe. From Maastricht to Liege (Belgium) took the train for 5,3 EUR/person. There are regular trains and the price doesn’t change so you don’t need to buy in advance if you don’t want to. From Liege to Aachen (Germany) the train costs 8 EUR/person. This one be sure to book in advance or else you have to pay more than that.
For the way home, we chose to take the Veolia bus no. 50 (6 EUR/person) to go from Aachen Hbf to Maastricht (it’s a Dutch bus so you can use OV chipcard) and then back to Leiden by train using the group ticket again.
If you want to get to the exact border where Netherlands, Belgium and Germany meet, take bus 50 but get off at Maastrichterlaan/Bosstraat, Vaals and change to bus 149 to get to Drielandenpunt. Check the schedule on 9292.nl and remember that bus 149 only runs on Sunday. On the other day you will have to walk or take a taxi to the three-country border.
Again, planning early will give you more options. My personal favorite is Airbnb. Since there are more places in Liege, we decided to stay there and commute to the 2 other cities. It turned out to be a really lovely experience. We (4 girls) practically had one whole floor for ourselves, with 1 spacious bedroom, private bathroom and kitchen for 30,75 EUR/2 nights/ person.
That’s all for the planning part, which is pretty dry. But once you get this done and off your mind, stay tuned for an exciting journey with lots of candies for the eyes in the coming posts!