Two months in and Maastricht still keeps exciting!
There’s something amazing about moving to a new place. It brings a different kind of excitement into your life. Exploring new places, being surprised by what you find, keeping on your toes, away from a routine for too long is a great feeling. I’ll use up most of this post to talk about two of my trips this month. The first being Rotterdam up North in the Netherlands and the second – Liège in Belgium.
Early on in the month, the ISN organized a trip for us exchange student around the northern parts of The Netherlands. The trip was to 3-4 places and for a price that was real value for money. The tickets, as they do, sold out before I could get a chance to buy them. So, a bunch us friends from the M-Building made our own plan and followed them to the city of Rotterdam. We couldn’t follow them on the other parts of the tour because it wasn’t economically viable. One of the benefits of going with an organized tour is that the trip turns out to be great value for money.
Since we travelled in a large group, we took advantage of the group tickets offered by the railways. It’s astonishingly cheaper than buying single tickets which cost 25 Euros from Maastricht to Rotterdam. In comparison, the group tickets cost about 6 euros per person. It’s insane! The train was about two and a half hours with great views to look out for.
The city of Rotterdam is the exact opposite of Maastricht. Instead of small buildings clubbed closely together leaving narrow streets, Rotterdam is made up of skyscrapers and wide streets. The buildings and their architecture is really great with almost every building having it’s own unique design – and in a lot of aspects it reminded me of a mini Chicago. My understanding is that most of the city demolished in the second world war and that’s why it’s architecture is a lot more modern than other metropolitan cities in The Netherlands
In other aspects, it was a typical Dutch city with friendly people and cyclist all over and an early to bed lifestyle (except for bars & clubs). Finding open shops late in the evening in this sprawling city was as hard as it is in a small town like Maastricht. There are only very few. This is something that surprises me but I come from a completely different country in terms of culture.
I have to recommend visiting the market in the city. It’s got loads of stalls that sell -as close as you can get to-authentic food from all over the world. It’s been forever since I’ve seen a manakish (typical Middle-Eastern food). Apart from this it’s got a lot of attractions to look at and move on like the cube houses and Erasmus viewpoint.
What may be surprising to those outside the EU are the hostels. Think of it as shared hotel rooms. They can be of mixed gender or only female. I believe most accommodate 4 to 8 people but the one we stayed at in Rotterdam was a 40-bed hostel. All I can say is that it’s an experience 🙂 It’s the norm and it works. Hostels are super cheap compared to hotels and are great value for money too.
Liege was a trip I planned in my second week of arriving to Maastricht. I’m glad to have finally made it. I cycled with a friend to and fro adding up to 70kms and I would recommend the same. The sights are great to cycle through and you save money that you could spend on a trip further away from home. The highlights were the stairs of Mount Bueren and its city center. It’s a city that’s halfway between a small town like Maastricht and a big metropolitan city.