I never thought this day would come, or at least, I thought this day would be a long time in coming, but Period 5 is coming to an end, and so at last, is my stay in Maastricht.
I realise I have not really written at all about the other cities in the Netherlands, so I shall take this time to do so. Having visited Amsterdam a number of times, and Utrecht for a weekend trip, I really feel like Netherlands is somewhere you can never be bored in. There is always something to do, especially in the big cities, and it’s always an eye-opening journey.
Amsterdam is of course, especially exciting, seeing as it’s the capital city of the Netherlands. Many amazing museums are there, most importantly the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, which are really really good museums and you could probably spend an entire day just visiting the 2 of them. The only drawback is that to visit both museums, you need to pay €34 if you don’t have a museum card, which is really rather expensive. However, they are both very good museums and there are so many things to see that it’s really impossible to be bored inside!
Another great museum is the Anne Frank House, which of course rose to prominence after ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ was published, detailing her life in hiding during WWII. It’s an incredibly moving memorial, especially if you have read the book, because you can really feel her thoughts and her fears in hiding and somewhat experience life as she knew it at the time. For visitors, I strongly suggest you buy tickets in advance though, because the queue to get in is horrendously long— I queued for 1.5 hours in the wind and rain that Amsterdam is so fond of giving us, and much as I wanted very much to see the house, I almost felt that catching a cold while waiting wasn’t really going to be worth it! However, perseverance is key, and I managed to get into the house, which was a great experience for me.
One cannot visit Amsterdam without going to De Wallen at night, of course. For those who are unfamiliar, De Wallen is the Red Light District, which almost characterises and distinguishes Amsterdam’s night life. Although there is a lot of hype about it, I would say that going once is probably enough for the regular tourist (unless of course there are ~other~ things you want to do there besides walking around). Seeing the red lights and the working girls in the windows is quite an experience, however, it’s important to respect the ladies at their work, and not stare/take pictures/make rude gestures. Other than that, De Wallen is a great place with lots of nice restaurants and bars, and it’s really vibrant by day as well as at night, so it’s always a great place to hang out and have fun 🙂
Besides Amsterdam and Maastricht, I told myself that I should at least visit the other major cities in the Netherlands, and so I decided to visit Utrecht, Rotterdam and Den Haag. Utrecht is really quite like Amsterdam, there are lots of museums, cafes, bars, and touristy things to see, except that there is no Red Light District there, of course.
I would highly recommend going to visit 2 attractions in particular. First, the Reitveld Schröder House, which is a house built by the famous Dutch architect Reitveld somewhere in the early 1900s (if my memory serves me correctly). Even though the house was built in the last century, there are many details about the house that are distinctly modern, and Reitveld expertly makes use of light, space and colour to give the small house a very open feel that is indicative of his talent. Although the House is quite far from the city centre, it is well worth a visit— one could even get ideas for their future home from seeing this house. Another thing that will help to recommend going to the Reitveld Schröder house is that a couple hundred metres away from it, there is an AMAZING gelato shop that sells the most truly amazing mango gelato. I really do mean truly amazing, since the gelato only costs €1 and it’s a huge scoop that practically goes on forever. Also, the taste is so amazing, you really wish it would go on forever.
Second, DomUnder, which is an attraction at the Dom Square, the central square of Utrecht. Below Dom Square lies ruins from the Roman times when they occupied this part of the Netherlands, and it’s quite amazing to see the different artefacts and ruined foundations that somehow still managed to stand the test of time to be viewed by us today. It’s a great attraction that charts the history of Utrecht and Dom Square, allowing you to see how Utrecht was built up, and how it flourished to become the large city it is today.
I will be going to visit Rotterdam and Den Haag next weekend, and I cannot wait to see what those 2 cities will offer, especially since my experiences of travelling around the Netherlands has been nothing but awesome.
I am genuinely sad to be leaving Maastricht— although it is quite a small city, I think its charm derives from it being a small but quaint city that somehow manages to provide a great deal of experiences for those living there, whether it’s night life, good food or interesting attractions. I like the small size of the city since it enables me to travel around quite easily even without a bike, and I really like the fact that no building seems to be above 4 stories (at least in the city centre), which is really different from back home where there are so many skyscrapers. All in all, I have been delighted to call Maastricht my home away from home, and I will definitely come back to visit and reminisce when I am back in Europe again, which will be very, very soon, I hope.
I have had a great experience living and studying in Maastricht, and I do highly recommend that international and future exchange students come to Maastricht and experience life here. I am sure that there will be many fun times and amazing experiences that await.
Dear readers, it has been a pleasure writing to you, and I hope that you have liked reading about my life and experiences in Maastricht and the Netherlands. For the last time, dankjewel, and goodbye 🙂