Sunday, March 20, 2011

Eijsden, Houffalize & Clervaux

3 for 1. Three countries, one day. What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Three countries in one afternoon might sound a little ridiculous, but when everything is so close, it's a reasonable day trip from Maastricht. We spent the day with our friends (and neighbors) Pete and Jacob. After a delicious breakfast of homemade American pancakes (thanks again guys), we hit the road!
First stop was at Eijsden Castle. A little unplanned side step. The castle was built in 1636 and sits right on the Maas. The interior of the castle is not open to the public, but the grounds and courtyard are a public park. Eijsden has become one of my new favorite towns outside of Maastricht. I love this area. It's right on the water, cute cafés, and it's a perfect bike ride from our apartment on a sunny day. 
Houffalize, Belgium
Our goal for the day was to explore something new and commune with nature. Jaap suggested Houffalize because he went camping there when he was younger. It's only about an hour from Maastricht and it was a cute place for some hiking and wandelen. Our hike was only about an hour, but it was nice to see some different terrain. Everything is so flat in the Netherlands. It's unlike anywhere I have ever lived, so it was nice to get out and see something different. 
WWI & WWII memorial
Hiking in the Ardennes
Houffalize is in the province of Luxembourg in the Ardennes region and is a part of the area where the Battle of the Bulge was fought during WWII. The picture above is an abandoned German tank from that period. 
Beautiful drive through Luxembourg
Since it was time for a koffie pauza we thought that since we were so close to Luxembourg, let's just go there! The Luxembourg countryside is spectacular. These pictures don't do it justice. It reminded me of driving around the Valley Forge area in Pennsylvania where my friends Diane and Chris live. Beautiful rolling hills and fields scattered with patches of tall pine trees. Great views on a sunny day. We stopped in a little town called Clervaux for a quick break before heading back to Maastricht. What a great way to spend a Saturday. We're on a the brink of spring here and there are many more exploration days ahead of us. 
Clervaux, Luxembourg

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