I’s done gone to da south!

23 08 2008

South Limburg that is!  HAHA!! Oh I crack me up I do! 

OK… SO…. after getting up at 6am, packing up lunches, saying goodbye to Stoney and hoping he doesn’t kill the cat while we are gone, we jump on our bikes to get to the train station for 7:34 to head to Valkenburg for the day. 

The first thing that you notice coming from any other province in the Netherlands is the HILLS!! YES PEOPLE!! THERE IS LANDSCAPE HERE.. oh sorry… um… the horizon isn’t a flat line!  It’s is a nice change from the “prairies” that we see here in Amersfoort.   The change was welcome, even though a little painful on the legs that weren’t use to the up and down trudging though the town.  

Valkenburg is a town located about 20 minutes by train from Maastricht, the station isn’t too far from the center of town, so walking there is no problem.  Now if we had the bikes… that would have been another thing, some of the roads were quite steep and the chances of me actually biking up those hills would have been slim to nil! The only major hill that I know of here in Amersfoort is the overpass going to Ikea.  But here it reminded me a bit more of up north in Ontario, except North Bay doesn’t have Castle ruins!!  

Valkenburg castle was built around the 1100’s and over time saw take over, destruction and rebuilds until 1672 by the troops of King-Stadtholder Willem III. They blew up the castle to prevent it to fall in the hands of the French troops. The castle fell into decay and was never rebuild again.  You are able to walk around the ruins that sit above the city and get an idea of the original layout.  Granted this day and age there really isn’t much left to it, also they are doing a lot of preservation.  That means lots of scaffolding to ruin pictures.  It took us about an hour to walk around the entire castle, but the day was nice and the view fabulous from up on the hill.  So it was well worth the trip up the hill… up the stairs…. and around the grounds.  The castle was made from a type of rock that is distinct to the area, flint.  The rock is mined from the area and there are kilometers of tunnels under Valkenburg where the rock comes from. 

The mines of Valkenburg are something to see, so we did.  The walking tour under the castle took about an hour to so and the other tour call the “City Mines” took 1/2 hour by train (I wasn’t walking that again).  Inside the mines there were carvings and drawings.  Some over 100 years old and all well preserved because of the high humidity and low temperatures.   The caves are at a constant 12C with 90% humidity.  During WWII these caves were used as shelter for both the citizens of Valkenburg and some US troops, whose silhouettes are now on the cave walls.   It was fun walking through the caves and at one point they turned the lights off so that we could see just how dark it gets.  Hard to imagine all those people under ground while the Nazi’s were bombing the area.   In the city mines they had sectioned off areas where if there was another emergancy, the city could again take refuge in the mines.  They had the amount of people that would be allowed in section on the wall and some had “Private” areas that could be bought.  The mines had showers and toilets enough to pretty much accommodate the town. 

Valkenburg is a great town to take pictures, it seems that every corner that you turned there was another picture to be taken.  I did manage to get a few good shots in this trip.  Limburg Province is a gorgeous part of the Netherlands to begin with.  I love how it is so close to either Germany or Belgium.  I love the hills and the trees that are in the area.  I would go back to Limburg in a heart beat.   There are more pictures on my flickr site.  Including a picture of me (and Frank and the kids) to appease my mom. 

It was a long day, but well worth the travel!

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7 responses

24 08 2008
Breigh (Canadutch)

Wow girl you are really getting around. We really need to get out and explore places more too. There is a huge x-mas market in valkenburg in the caves. I keep meaning to go there but never get around to it. Dammit, this christmas we are going!!

24 08 2008
Jaime

Hello! I’m also an expat living in the Netherlands! It’s great to stumble across your site! 🙂

I’m also looking to find if any expats know ANYTHING about where I could potentially find a club to play soccer for in the Haarlem/Amsterdam area… any ideas, even on where to search?!

24 08 2008
Melissa

Breigh: We did get around a bit these last few months, but it will stop now that the summer is over. 😦 Oh well… I guess I could always take a train trip 😛 hee hee. You are going to have to drag X by the hair and make him take you!! That would be a sight to see in the caves.

Jaime: Hi, thanks for stopping by! I think the best thing to find out about football teams would be to either google or look on a site like expatica.com and ask there. Someone should know.

25 08 2008
Zia

So did Stoney eat the cat? 🙂

Glad you’re having fun exploring your new home.

Love and miss you.

Zia

25 08 2008
Melissa

Unfortunately no…. I think he just slept all day. 🙂

We are trying to get out and do things instead of sitting at home, even if they are just day trips.

Love you too,

M

25 08 2008
Jules

Great photos! I was just telling a friend that we need to start spending Saturdays exploring something other than Blokker and V&D. We were also talking about Christmas markets.

25 08 2008
Isabella

I need to go check out your additional photos on Flickr! Really nice shots! 🙂

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