Leaving the Nijmegen region after an excitement packed week, Bruce ventures to the most southern tip of the Netherlands to Maastricht. The oldest Dutch city was full of people on
our Sunday visit. A beautiful city, next to Maas River, steeped in history with great cafes and shops. Maastricht hangs like an appendix down from the rest of Netherlands, hemmed in on all sides by Belgium & Germany. The Romans built underground forts here & every generation has left its mark.
Maastricht has been called the “true star” of its province Limburg!
. . . . . .and it even has . . drum roll . . hills!!
We cycled along the Maas river & enjoyed the “living statues” that were sprinkled throughout the old town’s medieval laneways. The statues were of famous people including The BirdMan, Vincent Van Gogh, Johann Strauss, Rembrandt, Goldilocks and even Mary Poppins feeding the birds!!
Past the 12th century “Helpoort” or hell’s Gate, the oldest city gate in The Netherlands.
The Vrijhof square is a real focal point & is surrounded by churches, museums and lively cafes! Saint John’s 17th century gothic is a remarkable red colour.
In no time at all (about 2 hour drive) and we find a camping for our base while we explore Luxembourg (city) – in The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (the country). Cycling along the river into the city we decide to join a walking tour. A passionate, older lady is our guide & we thoroughly enjoy her commentary and the views.
We pass the impressive Royal Palace and parliament 15th century, Bev stands with Grand Duchess Charlotte.
We stroll the “Chemin de la Corniche”, the famous promenade that winds along the cliff-top city ramparts & fortifications. The old & new buildings (EU Building, Court of Justice & European Bank) provide a contrast. Beneath the fort are a honeycomb of subterranean passages carved by the Spanish in the 17th century. During WW1 and WW2 they sheltered 35,000 locals.
Currently Grand Duke Henri and his Cuban wife Maria Teresa live in a castle in suburban Luxembourg but their kids were sent to ordinary schools. They are much respected with Crown Prince Guillaume’s (William) wedding the “national” event of the year in 2012!
- Luxembourg has 157 banks!
- Luxembourg city is head office for Ancelor Mittal – the world’s largest steel company – although their Iron Ore mines have run out.
- Many visitor come to fill up with Petrol, can be 20% cheaper here.
- Three official languages – Luxembourgish, French and German. English is taught at high school level also.
We treat ourselves to a rare dinner out in a café listening to an English band play in the square’s pavilion nearby. Excitedly we then rode to the Open Air Theatre to watch The Third Man, a Graeme Green story. It was a 1949 film in English with French subtitles. We were seated in the square I front of the Royal Palace & was a great setting for the movie!
At midnight, we rode back to Bruce (about 12 kms). As we peddled through a dark forest section of the track, a large deer startled us as it jumped across our pathway! Phew, it missed us! It was probably equally shocked to see us! . . . . an exciting end to or Luxembourg visit.
We leave lovely Luxembourg city for the countryside of Luxembourg in search of the Valley of the Seven Castles (Sept Chateaux). Little villages huddle beneath medieval castles.
Chateau de Hollenfels is 14th century & we can admire it as we drive up to the hilltop village!
On our quest to find all seven chateaux, we drive through colourful, attractive houses and cafes.
Our persistence is rewarded when we discover Medieval Beaufort Chateau. It’s an imposing, 12th century 5 story castle! In 2012 it was used as a set for filming Alistair Maclean’s thriller “Air Force One is Down!”
Mark finds this friendly knight but then we discover it’s torture chambers! . . . second thoughts . . maybe he’s not so friendly. Ouch! . . . Bed of “spikes!” It beggars belief the cruelty required to torture others!
Less sadistic . . . . but still interesting . . . the excellent remains of an ancient hand washing basin.
A free tasting of the locally made blackcurrant Beaufort Chateau liqueur was delicious.
The chateau is a backdrop for hard rock concerts, including Status Quo in their line-up. The elaborate stage is setup with lighting and marquees in the foreground of the castle in preparation for a concert tomorrow night. There are a series of five concerts over two weeks.
All the castles/chateaux have had their own appeal.
Vianden castle may have been a palace or a fortified cathedral? It is fairy-like as it towers grandly amid the mists & wooded hills above the village.
Chateau de Bourschied is a dramatic 12th century castle ruin! We listened to an amusing 90 min audio-guide as we clambered among the interesting wall stubs. Wonderful views from the towers over the river below.
OOOH!…. almost stood on this little guy!