I am commuting to Liege for work. I will mention somewhere else about how efficient and prompt the University of Liege staff seems to be since I started, but for now I would like to share some thoughts on my cross-border work experience. Finally, it happened! After five years of researching cross-border work, I am also a cross-border worker.
Starting with a reality check of “local particularities” aka. public transport tariffs and regulations. In Maastricht it makes a difference of 3.5 Euros if you buy a ticket from the ticket machine or ticket office. One would think that buying a retour ticket to Liege from Maastricht is the same as you buy a ticket to Maastricht from Liege, no. The price to go to Liege from Maastricht is 6.80 Euros, but to come back from Liege in Maastricht is 5.30 Euros (and one does not have to pay an extra 3.5 Euros for buy an international ticket at the ticket office!). Moreover, Foreigners – watch out if you buy the ticket in train it will cost you with 7 Euros more (even if this is Vise-Maastricht) it says somewhere with small letters in Dutch and French – but enough about prices, the ride from Liege to Maastricht needs to be described in words…
On the romantic train ride Maastricht – Liege – Maastricht
A short prelude – without criticizing, but rather mesmerizing – the ride from Liege to Maastricht can almost be described as romantic. Only with some exceptions during rush hour, the carriages given to transport people – who most of the times travel to Brussels Airport or like me, to work to Liege or maybe like others going to visit their grandparents in Vise- are as old as the Treaty of Rome. Most probably these originate from the ’50’s or even earlier, when iron became the trading and most used material among these countries (BeNeLux & Germany).
the old fashioned train modern Belgian train
For clear reasons – to maintain a historical imprint of that era (or cut economic costs) both cross-border authorities have chosen to keep those trains to serve until rusty. The picture would have been fully idyllic, IF the Belgian railway would not sometimes go on strike throughout all the country. Often in the past at least, I would hear: “The Belgians did not send us the train this morning, so there is nothing we can do” (NS representative would say). And here you are – with your luggage ready to catch a flight from Brussels Airport rushing to grab a taxi (that will ‘only’ cost you.. 120 Euros?).
Be it, happy faces of Belgian people coming on Friday for shopping in beloved Maastricht or polite conductors asking your ticket in French or Dutch or some concerned zoned out faces (especially before the coffee-shops in Maastricht would be open to foreigners) due to various motives – in no time you will find yourself in Liege (40 minutes) while passing some ‘prettig’ Dutch green landscape and entering slowly into the industrial imprint left by old Liege. Here you are, in one of the first continental railways in Europe: Gare de Liege – Guillemins, newly designed by the Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava.
now let’s talk about buses 🙂
A ride in a bus in Liege – a must try on experience
One morning, when the conscious is not yet fully awakened, I entered a local bus in Maastricht and when sitting, I realized that my lack of smile or greeting to the bus driver and the people sitting in the bus actually made me feel uncomfortable. It was not the first time in the bus here in Maastricht when I almost felt compelled to greet or smile shortly as a sign of good manner or friendly South living style.
The buses and the bus drivers in Maastricht are probably the best I have ever encountered (this is only my experience), they wait for the passengers to take their time to sit down and then start their trip, they smile pretty much all the time and just everything that one would summarize in: “Because life in the South is always better”! 😉
So, I already knew about how spoiled we are in Maastricht, but I got to really appreciate this, when I got into a bus in Liege. Some say that in Italy they drive like crazy (I am sure it is not true, just some myths:)), but they would refer to scutters or private cars. Well, in Liege I think they do crazy-driving with buses. I tested about 3 lines of buses only, so I can be biased, but my advice: Wear your seat belt. Ops, but there is none. You are standing? Bad luck!
Moreover, nothing personal, but never, never ever you would see something like that in a Veolia bus. It does not look good and I am not sure how safe it is.
(an outside oil or gas pipe)
Veolia is a French bus line circulating in Limburg. Apart from its safety and smooth driving, some are also equipped with a small rubbish bin for your apple rests, how cute (no, I am not paid by Dutch transportation services marketing department). Ah, Veolia! 🙂
(to be continued)