March 25, 2013
This morning we began the day with a delicious breakfast provided by the hotel. Hub, our incredible tour guide for the week, then took us to the Caves of Valkenburg. The team was split into two groups of eleven, and separately led down a long spiral staircase that led us into caves and quarries 40 meters underground.
Vladimir and Jasper, our guides, who took the different groups on a seven-mile bike tour, greeted us. While in the tunnels we learned of the precise process it takes to extract sections of the rocks to build homes above the tunnels. The 50 plus kilometers of tunnels were originally used for mining, and there were sections of the tunnels where the height of the ceilings varied because of the quality of the rock.
Due to these uneven ceilings it was commonplace to hear "low" or "stay down" shouted to the group so we wouldn't blast our heads off. The groups parted on different paths: group one with Vladimir, and group two with Jasper. We met back up at a chapel on the backside of the tunnels where Ben, a living survivor of World War II, explained the importance of the chapel during the war. He told us in Dutch of the paintings on the walls and how they lived there to hide from the Nazi regime.
After exploring the chapel we were led to a "museum" where we saw the tools of the people who worked in the tunnel. There we saw rocks of good quality and rocks that had shells in it from millions of years earlier and flint rocks which each limited what could and could not be used. We remounted our bikes and returned to the starting point. Many pictures and stops later we made our way back up to ground level. Most of the girls can agree that this was one of the coolest experiences and a treasure to have done it together.
We were planning to play our fourth and final game later that night, but upon our return to the hotel we were greeted with the unfortunate news of a cancelation due to snow in Germany with no hope of rescheduling. Tapping into our girly tendencies, we decided to return to Maastricht to shop. Most of the girls enjoyed some ice cream while they were there. Finally, we concluded the day with a wonderful family dinner, provided by the great cooks of the hotel.