We stayed at a fabulous Airbnb in The Netherlands both nights of our trip. This is an old renovated bakery (or Bakhaus). It sits on a centuries old farm which also has a manor house and moat. It was perfect for our family and even had a playground & trampoline in the backyard.
The inside, downstairs, taken from the kitchen, looking into the living/dining room. There was a bedroom upstairs.
The hosts even provided a lovely cake and breakfast too! Croissants, fresh bread, fruit, eggs, meat & cheese.
On Saturday, after a relaxed breakfast, we headed into Valkenburg, where we explored the ruins of the Valkenburg castle and the caves beneath the castle. The caves were created originally by mining the marlstone beneath the castle hill to build additional fortress, beginning as early as 1050. This created several kilometers of tunnels under the castle that were used later for military strategy. Much later, they were used during WWII to hide local residents, Jewish people, and American soldiers.
The kids loved climbing and exploring all throughout the castle ruins. This room was the chapel. See the arches?
We felt like we were in Game of Thrones as we looked out over the walls & expected to see John Snow or Tyrian Lannister run by. :)
The cave paintings date back to the late 18th century when the caves were used as secret chapels during the French occupation when Napoleon demanded that Roman Catholic priests swear allegiance to France.
During December, the caves are decorated for Christmas and a Christmas market is set up in them. This was the main reason we went to Valkenburg, but I actually would recommend seeing the caves without the extra distractions to better see the paintings & inscriptions.
We also enjoyed exploring the town of Valkenburg, which sits on the river Geul.
Valkenburg has endless sidewalk cafes that are heated with outdoor overhead heaters so that you can still sit outside. We researched ahead of time and found one that had gluten free options! For once, Brandtley got to order at a restaurant!
I don't want to post too many pictures of food, but we all tried new Nederlander dishes that we had never heard of and we all enjoyed our selections.
My Zuurvlees - which was like a cinnamon spiced pot roast
Matthew's bloedworst, or blood sausage, topped with baked apples & served with sliced brown bread & jam
Croquettes with fries
We walked miles & miles. The kids kept up so well and we had a great time!