Monday, May 14, 2012

We Gaan Wandelen!

The funny thing about the Netherlands is that because it's so flat as a whole, anything bigger than a pile of dog crap gets elevated into a hill, and hills by any other standard become mountains.  St. Pietersberg, in Maastricht, is a scant 171 meters high at its highest point, and is best known for being the end of the Pieterpad, as series of hikes you can do (at once, or over the course of several weeks/months) that runs from the Pieterburen, in the Waddenkust in Groningen, to St. Pietersberg.  Tourists from all over the world descend upon Philadelphia to run up the steps of the Art Museum, a la Rocky Balboa--it's sort of the same thing with St. Pietersberg.  It's the Dutch equivalent of the Appalachian trail, without the whole death-by-bear bit.

So St. Jansberg isn't, despite the suffix, actually a mountain, except by dint of comparison to, say, Friesland.  And it's much smaller than St. Pietersberg, topping out between 66 and 77 m in height (so says Wikipedia), a decent invigorating stroll for brisk days like yesterday.  We rode our bikes out to Sint Jansberg, which is literally the next hill over from the Mookerheide.  A short stroll will take you from the Bisseltsebaan, which is the unpaved road that connects the houses in the area, through some farmland that would do hobbits proud, to the foot of the "mountain".  It's interesting to see these vast expanses of empty green space, and contemplate the fact that you're in one of the most densely-populated countries in the world.

It makes for a nice way to spend the afternoon, provided that you are prepared for metabolic emergencies.  I had thought to bring a granola bar, to offset the likelihood that I would get hit with the munchies at some point, but it turned out that Karel,  his blood sugar low to start with and fading fast by the top of the mountain, needed it first.  We ended up having lunch at 't Zwaantje, the little restaurant that serves the area and makes a killing on tired and hungry wandelaars who don't mind paying a few euros if it means they don't have to bring a picnic basket.  

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