Sint-Pietersberg is a nice outing in Maastricht, to get away from being cooped up in the hostel and staring at the laptop all day. Or, if you are really hardworking, staring at your notes all day.
We cycled there from the UM Guesthouse, which took us around 20-25 minutes. It was downhill all the way except for the entrance to Sint-Pietersberg itself, which was a VERY steep slope up the hill. All of us tried our best to cycle up the hill but one by one, we started getting off our bikes and pushing them uphill instead! It was quite a hilarious sight to behold.
This is a picture of the fortress that lies on Sint-Pietersberg:
Beneath Sint-Pietersberg lies an extensive network of man-made tunnels. This underground labyrinth has over 20,000 passageways, and it actually links all the way to Amsterdam, but unfortunately this passageway to Amsterdam is blocked due to construction works over the years. The tunnels were originally created for the limestone quarry, but they were also used as a place of refuge for residents during World War II. The temperature in the tunnels remains at around 10-15 degree Celcius all year round and humidity is relatively high, so clothes would get damp if you stayed there long enough. So you can imagine how it must be like for the people last time who hid in the tunnels – cold and wet.
Entrance to the tunnels:
Walking in the tunnels:
Walking tours (which cost around 5 euros per person, if my memory doesn’t fail me) are available, both in Dutch and English for tourists. They walk you around a certain section in the tunnels and a few people in the group are enlisted to help carry the kerosene lamps to light the way, as there are no lights installed in the tunnels at all. Depending on your standing position in the group, the route might get too dark at times because the light-holders are too far away. In my case, I found it useful to use my key chain bike light to shine the way!
The guide also made us play a fun activity, where we had to stand in Indian file, with our hands on the walls of the tunnel. She then took away the lamps and slowly we were cast into total darkness. It was so dark, we couldn’t even see our own hands. The objective of the game was to feel our way along the corridor just by using our hands. We weren’t supposed to use our own light sources as that would reduce the fun factor! However, I found it a bit difficult and scary to only rely on my hand on the wall, so I ‘cheated’ a little by placing my other hand on the shoulder of a friend who was in front of me! Once we successfully stumbled our way to the end of the corridor, the guide was there waiting with the lamps.
Before ending the tour, we had a short photo-taking session where the guide offered to take separate group pictures of the people in the tour. Below is the photo that she took of us, the Singaporeans who also formed the largest group in the tour!
Finally, we emerged from the tunnels, squinting at the sudden brightness. We headed over to the fort but decided against joining a tour since it was late and there were no more English-speaking tours already. Instead, we walked around the outside of the fort and had another camwhoring session where we posed for photos based on some famous scene from the Chinese movie 那些年. I’ve never watched the movie before even though many of my friends were gushing over it when it first aired in the cinemas. There are good reviews about the movie and I suppose that I could always torrent it whenever I want to but nah… too lazy and I’m not that interested in Chinese movies to begin with. Haha!