January 22, 2006 - Germany trip - day 2 - Maastricht, Nederlands

The morning starts like yesterday, with a walk from the hotel, passed a quaint church, to the train station.

Then, to the wonderful Cafe Reichard...

We ate German crepes against a window with a KILLER view of the Dom. Actually, the pictures I took yesterday were with me backed-up against the window, almost exactly where we ate breakfast this morning.

(dead center is where we sat)

Then, onto the train station where Jill and I forked over 30 Euros for first class seats.
Totally worth it on the first leg, we thought, but not really on the rest.
This first leg (from Cologne to Aachen) was nice. We had upper-level seats with no one nearby - and the 2nd class seats were crowded.

The next leg (Aachen to Heerlen) was empty, as you can see.

On the third leg, (Heerlen to Maastricht), I had to go #1. I waited until we were out of the station, since the toilet turned out to be a on-the-track-er.
No, that was not my residue...

At Maastricht, we rushed into a cab, then to Chalet Bergrust, where we had a delightful meal of Quiche Loraine and what they called 'I don't know the American word for it - 'fried meat?' It turns out to be verlinken. It was fried liquid meat. Like a heavy fried turkey gravy. No idea if it was turkey, though.
It was good. I ate it all (probably helped that I had a 'dubel' and another, more generic trappist beer).

Then, onto why we came to Maastricht in the first place...
After a quick walk through the countryside on a hill to the south end of the city...

...we head into the Grotten Noord (north system) of St. Pietersburg Caves.

Man-made caves, created as people dug the marl rock out to make building materials.

Then, people fled from Napoleon and eventually Hitler by staying in the caves.
They carved into the walls.

The drew with charcoal. Here is a map. Not sure what the map is of, exactly, since the tour was in Dutch. I'm guessing it has to do with the 20,000 passages that I read about.

Impressive, eh?

It was dark. There are NO permanent lights - only the gas-lanterns we brought in. We had three of those for a tour group of probably 30 people. I got one, since the tourguide knew we'd be pulling up the rear as we can't understand her anyway.

At one point, up to 50,000 people could hide from the Nazis in the cave system.

No one else is taking pictures, so I leave my flash off. I use night-mode, which makes for fuzzy pictures, but at least I don't seem to get noticed.
(She probably said 'no pictures,' but we made it clear we only spoke English. The tour-guide spoke fluent English, so she could have said "no photography" if she wanted... Guess not...)

It is a constant 9-10&167; Celsius (~48-50F), so they had ovens for heating and cooking. The ceiling was BLACK here.

They had some cool artwork.
The oldest signuature that I saw for a long time was 1956. I saw two from that year. Just as we left, I saw a carving from 1921. There are supposedly carvings from 1560 and a charcoal signature from Napoleon. I didn't see this, but I got the impression we barely scratched the surface of that labyrinth.