Meet and greet with your English-speaking guide / driver in the hotel lobby, from where you will be taken for a 2.5-hour drive, depending on traffic, by luxurious private vehicle to historic Maastricht.
Maastricht, the oldest city in the Netherlands – a city that has ripened well with age, like good wine, with complex and lively cultural overtones added over centuries by the Romans, Germans and French. This rich cultural palette is the secret behind the city’s attractiveness, drawing visitors to the historic city center and a wealth of museums and festivals – making each visit a fascinating new experience. Besides this it is the hometown of the famous violin player Andre Rieu.
Upon arrival in Maastricht, you will check in at the Kruisherenhotel, one of the most spectacular hotels in the Netherlands. The building from the 15th century was the former Kruisheren cloister. Together with the monumental gothic church, this complex has been transformed into a very special designer hotel. It is a unique place, in which antiquity and modern design are interwoven; yet, at the same time, architectural contrasts between the past and the present are very clear.
The internationally renowned interior designer Henk Vos created the hotel interior, the beautiful pieces of light installation artwork where created by the German light installation artist Ingo Maurer. Throughout the complex, use has been made of the notable designs of masters such as Le Corbusier and Rietveld as well as modern designers like Marc Newson, Piet Heyn Eeck, Philippe Starck and Roderick Vos. These designs form exciting contrasts with the stained-glass windows and the stunning, authentic wall and ceiling paintings. www.oostwegelcollection.nl/en/kruisherenhotel-maastricht/
After check in, will be taken to the beautiful ‘Vrijthof Square’, where you will have leisure time for lunch at one of the many local restaurants.
Fully refreshed, you will be taken for a walking tour of the historical city center, showing you all the highlights including some off the beaten sights Maastricht has to offer.
The center of Maastricht is compact and easy to explore on foot. Large areas are pedestrians-only and most sites are within walking distance. The old St. Servaas bridge links the old center with the trendy Wyck district, and from the adjacent Céramique district you can cross back over the river via the designer suspension bridge, the ‘Hoeg Brögk’, and cut through the park back to the center.
The numerous (art) museums, historic churches, historic buildings, culinary delights, and shopping, it’s all there and close at hand. You will not want to miss the restored Stokstraat quarter, the old ramparts, the various parks and the famous Vrijthof Square. Maastricht is the art of fine living where you never feel lost but very much at home.
During the walk, there will be an exclusive guided tour of the Kazematten. Between 1575 and 1825, at the west side of Maastricht, a network of passageways and mine galleries where made. These passageways and galleries where used to enter the “city of the enemy” from under the city to defeat. During the private tour you will find out all the answers to this unique monument where subterranean and impressive bomb-free areas alternate with gunpowder rooms, stairs to galleries and others.
There is a constant temperature of about 58F in the Kazematten. A sweater or something warm is recommended!
The tour will end back at your hotel, where you have the remainder of the day for your own leisure.
After breakfast, your English-speaking guide / driver is ready to take you by luxurious private vehicle for an exciting drive through to the rolling countryside. This area is totally different from the rest of the Netherlands. For most tourists, it is an unknown area, but once seen, they call it one of the best areas they have seen in the Netherlands. And it is!
Our first stop will be at Château St. Gerlach, where you will be taken for a walk through the sculpture garden and a visit to the Gerlach Church. The hermite Gerlach of Houthem lived here during the latter part of his life, and died around 1165 AD. His grave forms the center of his worship ever since. It’s famous for its fresco paintings (1751) and southern German Baroque architecture, a combination which is unique for the Netherlands. The church itself is nowadays a pilgrim’s church on the road to Santiago de Compostela.
A short drive will take us to Valkenburg. This charming historical little village is also known as the marlstone village (Limestone). You will notice the typical yellow marlstone throughout the village, on the surface (houses) and underground. Popular spots in Valkenburg are the historic buildings, the castle ruin, caves, heated pavement cafes and the River Geul.
You will be taken for an exclusive guided tour of the Velvet Cave, named after the stone marten’s skin, who’s skin is soft as velvet. This animal lived here when the cave was used as a mine for marlstone extraction. The cave or former mine accommodates numerous mysteries and a treasure of impressive charcoal mural paintings, which are between 100 and 150 years old! Besides these paintings, you will also find some exceptional marlstone sculptures and a romantic refuge chapel dating back to the French occupation period. Spectacular!
In September 1944, during World War II, for 6 days and six nights the cave served as a hospital for American soldiers and a shelter for Jewish and local people. There is a large section in the velvet cave where American soldiers left charcoal reflection paintings from their faces on the walls, including their names. In the whole section, you will find hundreds of names of soldiers who stayed in this cave.
Because of the constant temperature in the cave, everything is well preserved. A unique and surprising experience!
There is a constant temperature of about 58F in the cave. A sweater or something warm is recommended. www.kasteelvalkenburg.nl
Out of the cave, you will be taken for a walk through the castle ruin, where you have spectacular views over the area. And there will be a walk through the picturesque village center, where you will find many cozy restaurants and shops. Here there is also leisure time for lunch.
We continue the tour with a scenic drive along the marlstone route. The drive will take you through little picturesque villages, each with its own spectacular views. We will make a brief stop on top of the Vaalserberg in Vaals. The Vaalserberg is a hill with a height of 322.7 meters (1,059 ft) above NAP, the highest point in the Netherlands, and is the tri-border area of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Its summit is therefore called the Drielandenpunt (“three country point”) in Dutch.
Margraten American War Cemetery
Next stop will be the American War Cemetery in Margraten, which is the second largest American cemetery in Europe after Omaha Beach in Normandy. The tall memorial tower can be seen before reaching the cemetery, which covers 65.5 acres. The walls on either side of the Court of Honor contain 1,722 missing soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their country and who rest in unknown graves.
Beyond the chapel and tower is the burial area. Here rest 8,301 American soldiers including 6 Medal of Honor. www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/ne.php
From here, you will be taken back to your hotel in Maastricht, where you have the remainder of the day for your own leisure.We will arrive back before 5pm.
After a leisurely morning and check out, your English-speaking guide / driver is ready to take you for a 2.5-hour drive, depending on traffic, by luxurious private vehicle back to your hotel in Amsterdam. Your will arrive back around 3.30pm.
Wine tasting at Apostelhoeve
The historic farm of “Apostelhoeve” is located in the South of Maastricht near the Belgian border on the only mountain on Dutch lands, the St. Pietersberg. Apostelhoeve’s land had been covered with grapevines since the era of the Romans. Various varietals such as Riesling, Auxerrois, and Müller-Thurgau do quite well on the sun-drenched slopes of Jeker Valley. Since 1967, the Hulst family had been producing excellent wines, which are popular all over The Netherlands. With the use of modern cellar equipment, the quality of the wines are rapidly increasing.
World famous British wine critic Jancis Robinson stated that Apostelhoeve wines are “the most surprising tasting ever”. She claimed that this is because “the traditional bands of temperate climate are shifting to the north in Europe, the southern part of the Netherlands for instance now has the same climate the Champagne region had only 10 years ago.
Dinner at Château Neercanne: a Michelin-starred Culinary Experience
Restaurant Château Neercanne has a rich cultural and culinary tradition, was awarded its Michelin-starred status every year from 1986 to 2018. Headed by Chefs de Cuisine, Hans Snijders and Gilbert von Berg, the team creates memorable gastronomic experiences, complemented by a range of carefully selected wines. A destination in itself, guests can enjoy an aperitif in the candlelit wine cellar within the Marl Caves, and on warm summer days dine al fresco on the Terrace overlooking the Jeker countryside.
As the only terraced castle in The Netherlands, Château Neercanne commands panoramic views across the Jeker Valley and straddles two countries – Belgium and Holland. Renowned for its superb Michelin-starred à la carte restaurant and popular lunch spot l’Auberge, it also houses a network of Marl Caves, offering a unique venue for large parties and celebratory gatherings.