How do you get to know the best parts of Maastricht? You ask students and staff who have already been here for a while. And here you have it: Observant has done the pre-work for you. These two pages are full of tips, personal stories and little secrets.
“While the notion that Maastricht, being in a somewhat remote corner of the Netherlands, is something of a backwater music-wise is not wholly unjustified, you can be sure that great bands and artists, big and small alike, will find their way to Maastricht’s only real pop venue, de Muziekgieterij. This place is also the cornerstone of the local music scene. Located in a part of town seldom visited by students, but not at all far away (Bankastraat 3, just a few hundred yards up from the Tongerseplein roundabout near the SBE faculty), the 250-capacity former radio station plays host to good music most weekends. A selection of last year’s performances: Nobody Beats The Drum, Novastar, Selah Sue, Black Box Revelation and Tim Knol. Students always get a discount, often 50 percent or more, and the bar rates are friendly as well, with Duvels (strong Belgian ale which can knock you straight on your arse) going for cheap. Check out the coming attractions at www.muziekgieterij.nl.”
Jeroen Postma, International Business alum
“Bakery Hermans on the Zakstraat. I love their strawberry tart, it’s the best in Maastricht. I live nearby, so I’m in the bakery quite often. I can recommend all of their tarts and cakes, but since I’m keen on strawberries, I’d say: try this one.” Hermans is also open on Sunday mornings, from 9.00 till 12.30.
Laura Tilindyte (Lithuanian), junior researcher at the Faculty of Law
Sit at the bus stop
“New in Maastricht? Or new in the position of student in Maastricht? Take some time each week to get in touch with the ‘real’ Maastricht and its surroundings. This helps to bring back the perspective that you’re part of a broader society.
I advise two kinds of activities. Sit or stand near the bus stops at the Markt. That can be efficient, too, because of the supermarket on the corner. Around six o’clock is best. Look who’s passing, guess where they’re going, what walks of life they’re from. Notice the differences in dress codes between students and the population at large. The second step is taking the Belgian bus to Liége. See how you enter a whole new world five miles from the centre of Maastricht. Spend some time in Liége and you’ll realise that you can be back there for something totally different in about one hour.”
Hans Philipsen, former Maastricht University rector and Observant columnist
“Amigo Pizzeria in the Brusselsestraat, between the Emmaplein and the Markt. I’m often there, almost every day. They have cheap student meals like the kebab special. And I’d recommend the Pizza Margarita; it’s about €4.”
Mallory Hisler, exchange student from Texas
“I would say: skip the Minerva cinema for once and pick a film at the arthouse cinema, the Lumière. All these Hollywood blockbusters are fine, but you should check out the small movies from Sweden and Romania as well. The Lumière is smaller than the Minerva, more intimate. They organise a film festival once a year, sometimes plan student nights and have a cosy bar at their disposal.”
Katrin Henss, employee at Studium Generale
“The website www.maaslife.nl. It’s an English-language website about Maastricht with a calendar of the upcoming events that are suitable for people who don’t speak Dutch. It’s very handy, especially when you’ve just arrived and don’t know the city or the hotspots yet. It also has pictures of the latest parties on it. I like to check it out for pictures of me and my friends.”
Malita Da Costa, exchange student at the School of Business and Economics
Rio in Maastricht
“Maastricht is the city with one of the greatest Carnival traditions in Europe. Even if you didn't grow up with this and come from a completely different part of the world, I strongly recommend that you participate in the Maastricht Carnival at least once during your studies. It’s a great period, starting from 11 November when thousands of people come together on the Vrijthof at 11.11 am to celebrate the new Carnival season, and culminating in the three crazy days just before the start of Lent, when most inhabitants of Maastricht take to the streets dressed in costume. Apart from mingling with the locals, Carnival teaches us to approach life (at least sometimes) with a certain “lightness of being” and that we shouldn’t always take ourselves too seriously. In my experience this can provide an important lesson for your future professional life.”
Martin Paul, Maastricht University President
A guided tour
“I’d recommend that you go on a city tour guided by a homeless person”, says Annette Vroomen, receptionist at SBE. “For a year now, the tourist office has been training tramps to show people around. They don’t show the well-known highlights, but rather the ‘hidden’ places where homeless people meet and find shelter.”
Annette Vroomen, receptionist at the School of Business and Economics
A call to the tourist office, however, reveals that these tours have been cancelled. Despite the huge coverage in the media, it appears that only one homeless person gave a few guided visits but stopped after a few weeks. Why? Nobody knows. But the good news is that the tourist office offers other walks.
Vroomen: “Two years ago, when I came to live here, I went on a tour which not only went around the city centre but to the suburbs as well.”
Have a drink in café Zondag or café Zuid, both on the Wyck side of the river Maas. Buy your oriental food at the huge Asian Grocery Store at the Mosae Forum (underground, Markt); opposite you’ll find Turquoise Mosae Gusto, a Turkish grocery store. Near the Brusselsepoort, at the Holsteinbastion, there’s also a big Turkish supermarket, Yildiz Plaza, which sells fruit, bread, meat and has a grill-corner.
Small and big presents, all kinds of furniture and accessories; check out Festen – which is also a lunch room – in the Minckelersstraat. In the same street, on the corner, is Giensch, a vintage boutique. Want to share a high tea with some friends or your parents? Choose between Taart in the Helmstraat or Tea Zone in the Koestraat. Also nice to know: Kumulus. Take a music lesson, a visual art course, creative writing, ballet or theatre lessons. Visit kumulus.nl.
Do you like to ride your bike? You’re in the middle of a cyclists’ mecca. Start in Maastricht and cycle to the Dutch mountains in Margraten, Valkenburg and many other lovely small villages in the hilly South Limburg. Or: just print out the Amstel Gold Race route.