Sunday, September 16, 2007


My sister-in-law is visiting and today is her first full day here. We leave for Bavaria in the morning. She decided that she wanted to go to Maastricht today, since it wasn't far away.

Of course, I've been there at least half a dozen times, but I did a couple things today that were new even for me.

St. Pietersberg Caves Tour
If you don't mind a good walk, I would highly suggest walking to the St. Pietersberg caves, which are just outside of town. If you stop at the VVV first, they will show you a map so you can see where it is...or follow the signs for "Grotten Noord". It took us about half an hour to walk there.

If you don't want to walk, you can also take a boat there.

Anyway, English tours are offered at 2:00 PM. We got there a little early. So we went to the cafe at the midget golf place nearby. It was okay...your standard Dutch fare. I had kroketten with fries (I intended to share with my sister-in-law, but she took one bite of the kroketten and decided she didn't care for it)...Lance had pannekoeken.

St. Pietersberg also has a fort. I don't think we could explore that today. It looked like the fort was closed.

We purchased tickets for the cave tour, and I thought that was well worth it. It was about an hour. If you've been to the Valkenburg caves, you might like the ones in Valkenburg better. St. Pietersberg doesn't have as much art. But it's interesting all the same.

My least favorite part of the tour was when our tour guide left us alone in pitch blackness and told us to keep our right hands on the cave wall and just walk for 2 minutes until we found her again. I was trying to stay calm, but everything in me wanted to panic. Once we could see some light again, I realized that I had actually gotten way behind the person in front of me (and Kim and Lance were behind me and we linked ourselves together - Kim had her left hand on my shoulder, and Lance had his hand on her was literally the blind leading the blind).

Anyway, that particular part of the tour is optional. I would recommend the tour overall.

Maas River Cruise

You can opt to take a Maas River Cruise if you want, but be careful which one you take. We took the 50 minute round-trip Maas River cruise, and I was unimpressed. Once you actually leave Maastricht's city center, there isn't much to see. And in our case, there were several kids who were running amok and screaming at the tops of their lungs and being generally annoying, and their parents were choosing to ignore them. So that spoiled the entire experience for us.

If we had had the time, I would've done the cruise to Liege. There are several different cruises offered. If you have the time, do one of the longer ones. The 50 minute one just isn't worth it.

Anyway, we're leaving for Bavaria in the morning: Garmisch, Berchtesgaden, Neuschwanstein, Munich (Oktoberfest), Innsbruck (Austria) and Brixen/Vipiteno (Italy)...we'll follow this up with a 3 day trip to Venice.

Longer trip report to come. And photos too, of course.

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