Valkenburg, a pretty little town which is considerably hillier than the rest of the Netherlands, was heaving with cyclists sitting on cafe terraces and enjoying the sun when we arrived on Friday afternoon. The Amstel Gold event is very popular with a 'leisure' ride on the Saturday followed by a professional race on Sunday. Husband joined the queue to register for the 125km ride. Leisure? Why don't I join him on these events I hear you ask? No chance - my limit is about 10 miles and I'm a bit too wobbly on a bike and scared of traffic.
All of the hotels in Valkenburg were full so we ended up staying in a very swanky chateau hotel nearby. It is the most luxurious hotel we have ever stayed in and wasn't cheap so we only stayed one night, moving to a more modest one in Maastricht itself on the Saturday evening after the race. Our 'apartment' was spacious and beautifully furnished, though I'm not sure they'd have been too happy if they'd seen the bike in the hallway.
So Kate and I spent a lazy Saturday morning in this apartment lounging around in our complimentary bathrobes. Then we explored the grounds where, in addition to the established statues and gardens, there was a sculpture exhibition.
And, for Kate, there was an opportunity for a bit more science revision. You can see a tiny inverted image of yourself in the centre of the eyeball.
We also liked this big apple. The gardens were beautiful and it was a lovely morning so we didn't mind when we had to check out at lunchtime and wait until the ride was over. We made a picnic in our little kitchen and ate it in Rose Garden - no roses yet but it was a peaceful spot where we enjoyed the sun until husband returned triumphant, having completed his 125 km without too much difficulty and pleased with himself as he was able to overtake others up the hills, having had much practice at this on his usual rides in North Wales.
On Sunday we drove back through Belgium, stopping off en route to have lunch with my cousin and her family who live south of Brussels. It was great to catch up with her as we only manage to see each other every few years when our visits to Northern Ireland coincide.
A lovely weekend and a good end to the Easter holidays.