A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Following part 1, we’re now ready to hit the road!
First stop is Maastricht. We’re basically still in the same territory, so no butterflies here. Nonetheless, this city still exudes a very different atmosphere from that of Leiden: it is vast. The wind seems stronger, the road seems wider, and the sun more fierce.
We arrived in a Friday morning, and as the weather reached its perk the city is bustling with people strolling, chatting, and obviously enjoying the day in Dutch way – having their meals in the terrace. But we held back. Food can wait, because we had to rush to the meeting place to start our underground tour (FYI the number 1 attraction listed on Tripadvisor). The tour costs a little more than 10 EUR/person, and is a combination of Fort St. Peter and North Caves, but you can always choose if you don’t want to do both. Be mindful of the starting time (12:30 PM for Fort St. Peter tour), as it takes almost 3 hours from Leiden to Maastricht, and you need to catch a bus and then walk (caution: uphill) to the actual location. You can buy the ticket online in advance, or at the spot, but do allow yourselves some time for that.
We finally managed to catch our group just before they went inside (for some reason this trip was all about running and last-minute…). There were about 20 visitors, and a tour guide accompanied us. He’s a pretty good one, offering a lot of historical insights of the location. The positive reviews on Tripadvisor are no joke, the place is really worth visiting. You can actually get inside the fort, get into the dark alleys underground, and pass by the stations where soldiers used to fire their cannons to protect the city. Afterwards you get out and go up and up, to be welcomed by a spectacular aerial view of Maastricht, plus Belgium from afar. Be aware that it is super windy and chilly up there, so dress warm.
The cave tour starts at 2:30 PM. But due to a misfortune that my friend (almost) lost her wallet (things like this happen…) we could not make it into the cave. I’m sure it’s just as awesome, but it’s fun enough just to explore the surrounding for a while as there is a also a big green field for people to take a walk. There were a lot of people walking with their dogs strap-free at that day. The dogs sure love it.
Thank God my friend found her wallet later (the staff was SUPER nice) so we all went back to the city center to celebrate. Time for (late) lunch of course. We decided to join the crowd and sit in one of the restaurants facing the City Hall. There are plenty to choose from. They all offer Belgium food as well (mussels!) but we settled with sandwiches which cost about 7 EUR/person.
Then the rest of the day was sort of free flowing. We just casually strolled around the city before going back to the station to catch the train to Liege. Again, Maastricht is big.
Fun fact: Do you know what material they used to paint the tower red in the past? Blood. Ox blood, of course.
Our night started at Liege, where all the fun issss. But your eyes must be already tired from reading. So please allow yourself some of this while my memory is crawling back. Cheers!