I love to travel. Yet I almost never do. Why? Because it’s expensive and I’m not rich. End of story. At least… Until I made my list with 101 goals. I wanted to include travel goals so badly. I knew I still wouldn’t be able to spend a lot of money though. But was that really keeping me from seeing the world?
Okay, maybe building an igloo on Antarctica and feeding crocodiles in Australia was a bit out of my league, but surely I could think of less expensive ways to see on our planet? I just had to think of stuff to do closer to home. And so I did.
I came up with this goal:
No. 86: Take a photo trip in every Dutch province.
We have twelve of them. That’s twelve trips! I may not see fancy hotels, exotic animals or warm oceans this way, but I do get to enjoy the little beauties of my own country. Besides, I always tell people that photography is one of my hobbies, but I do it way too little (I’m not counting the hundred daily snapshots of my dogs or the still lives I create for my blog). I still don’t have a fancy camera (the one of my smartphone is way better than my actual camera), but I decided I didn’t let that stand in my way anymore. I would just take my phone on a photo trip. So what? The 30 cm behind the camera are much more important than everything inside it anyway.
For the first trip Ruud (who very fortunately also happens to love photography) and I decided to go to Valkenburg, located in the province of Limburg. It’s one of the most southern cities of the Netherlands (only beaten by Maastricht and Vaals). But more importantly, it has caves. And there so happens to be another goal of mine which states:
No. 89: Visit a cave.
I have always wanted to visit a cave, but it just never happened. I don’t see why. I wouldn’t even have to travel abroad to visit one! I figure I always thought it was a bit too cheesy and never dared to ask anyone tag along with me. I don’t know what made me think that. Caves aren’t cheesy. Caves rock! (Pun intended.) They are a wonder of nature, they have stalactites and stalagmites and underground lakes and bears live in them!
Well… Okay, to be honest, none of the above applies to the caves in Valkenburg. The Netherlands doesn’t have bears outside the zoos (which is actually a good thing if you ask me), and the caves are not a wonder of nature, but a result of mankind. These caves were actually quarries, or mines. People made them to excavate the special type of stone inside: marl.
It was mind-blowing to see how they had managed to do this by hand. More amazingly however, were all the beautiful paintings and carvings inside the cave. Artists used to paint and carve for hours accompanied by nothing more than candlelight, all for a couple bottles of wine.
The caves also hid quite a few banned priests and also American and British soldiers in WWII. It was quite astonishing how much history was inside this cave, actually. And we had the most brilliant and witty guide to tell us about it. It was really worthwhile seeing it. Visiting a natural cave still is one of my dreams, but this Velvet Cave in Valkenburg was a really nice start. And nowhere did my goal state that the cave had to be formed by nature, so goal accomplished!
Afterwards, we went to visit the ancient castle ruins. I love ruins. It always feels like a fairy tale walking there. I can so easily imagine all the beautiful castle walls that must have stood there in the old days, all the large chambers with murals on the walls and a big courtyard full of minstrels, market men and troubadours. It has such a romantic feel, hasn’t it?
How weird is it to see that now it has all vanished, all that’s left are partial walls and piles of bricks. Flowers even grow high between the rocks now! It makes me think, how will our world look in a couple of hundreds of years?
Besides the cave and the castle ruins, we also walked about in the center of Valkenburg. It truly is a beautiful city. The building style is so different from the rest of the Netherlands, which made me feel a bit like I was in another country. The fact that there were small mountains (okay, maybe the proper word is hills, but still) surrounding the city also helped. And it was so sunny and warm! It made me feel like I was on a holiday!
So, to summarize:
Cave visit: check!
Photo trip in each Dutch province: one down, eleven to go!
Do you have any tips for my next photo trip? Which spots in the Netherlands should I definitely visit?
(The photos in this article are a selection of the photos I took on my trip. All photos in the cave I made with an iPhone 5s, all other photos I made with a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Thumbs crossed for a real camera in the very near future!)