Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Maastricht: Day 1

I will be needing some new socks soon.  Today was only our first full day in Maastricht and I'm pretty sure I wore my socks thin with all the walking we did today.  I loved every minute, of course. But.... Wow.  What a day. I am exhausted.  Better get used to that though!

This morning we woke up and had a delicious breakfast (no surprise) and began to make our way to the University of Maastricht, which is about a 15 minute walk from the dormitory.  It was nice to finally get to see more of the city. I loved it.

Once we made it to the University, we had orientation.  The man who did the orientation was VERY tall and VERY stylish. Check out his checkered suit....

Creeper shot...the first of many, i'm sure. But seriously, that suit! How could I NOT sneak a picture of that?

After orientation, they gave us tea and vlaai (a typical Dutch pastry).  It's pretty much a pastry filled with fruit....so basically we had pie as a midmorning snack. 

After that, we were given a quick tour of the city and ate lunch in the town square.  Here was one of my views from the town square.  The red building is a cathedral known as Sint Janskerk.

After walking around for a while, we made our way to a boat.  And this is when it started to really rain.... Gross.  The weather had been so nice up until then, but the storm cloud finally caught up to us and we found ourselves standing in the rain, waiting for our boat.  

Our boat FINALLY arrived to take us on a short little day cruise down the Maas river.  That was a really beautiful way to see the city!   

And, yes, those are swans in the river.

The boat took us to a mountain called St. Pietersburg (It's honestly not really a mountain, just a really tall hill). But we hiked up that, which was beautiful. By this time it had stopped raining and everything was really lush and green.  

Once we reached the top, a sweet old man named Peter (no relation to the mountain) greeted us.  He was in charge of leading our hike through the caves under the mountain. He started the tour by telling us the story of two boys who had gotten lost in the caves for 3 weeks....so you betchya I stayed close behind Peter the entire time. Didn't really want to spend the day wandering the maze of a dark cave. 

The caves were actually really cool.  Apparently there used to be a city where the caves are and so we got to see remnants of that.  And people had gone into the caves and drawn art on the wall (seen below).  And the caves are SO long and huge that they actually went under the Netherland's border.  They were actually used by the Jews in World War II to escape to Belgium. And Peter was hilarious.  He even turned off his lantern at one point and turned on his "disco light" and made us have a dance party. I guess if you give tours underground for that long, you find ways to entertain yourself.

one of the charcoal drawings on the cave wall.

  Melinda and me outside of the caves. I think carrying a lantern makes me feel like a real cave explorer. Watch out Dora!

After the caves, we went back to the University for dinner! And we just have downtime for now, which is much needed.  I'm pretty tired.  Looking forward to getting some good sleep tonight! Tomorrow will be our last day in the Maastricht before our group trip! 

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