After spending a damp afternoon in Cologne it was time to head to my final destination in Germany.
I boarded a regional express train bound for Aachen at Cologne Hauptbahnhof with my local friend who was playing tour guide. Aachen is around an hour from Cologne and is in the extreme west of the country, very close to the borders of the Netherlands and Belgium.
After arriving in Aachen and dropping my bags at a hotel my friend gave me a quick tour around the city before both of us met up with another local friend for dinner. My friends were both particularly keen on showing me the naturally hot water in the centre of the town and complaining about the smell of sulfur near it. Of course coming from NZ the smell was pleasant and mild, but it did leave me wondering if there is little volcanic activity in Europe (and especially Germany) then why is there warm water here.
The following morning I went for another big walk around the city including walking inside the Aachen Rathaus. Usually you can visit a number of rooms inside the city hall. Unfortunately much of it was closed on the day I visited. But I was allowed to see some of the rooms on the ground floor. In particular the main council chamber in which the city council has held meetings for the last 700 years.
In the late morning I visited the Cathedral. The Aachen Cathedral is very different to other cathedrals I’ve visited in Europe (and I’ve been to quite a few). Every surface inside is covered in glittering artwork and the main nave is rather small.
I then met with my friends for lunch and tour of RWTH Aachen University. The university at Aachen is huge with buildings located all over the city, because of this the city itself reminded me a lot of Palmerston North. After a very long walk through some of the suburbs of Aachen we ended up at the main hospital where we caught a bus to the neighboring town Vaals, which is across the border in the Netherlands.
Once in Vaals I was quite excited about taking a photo on the border. Which is quite literally just a sign on the side of the road. There is no border crossing or passport control, it’s literally just a road that keeps going. From Vaals we walked a few kilometers up a road into a forest. In this forest is the border of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Once again I was very keen on getting a photo taken, this time having two feet and a hand in three different countries at once.
Finally in the evening I rounded out my trip to Germany by playing Kegel with one of my old friends and many new ones. It was a great way to round out the visit to Germany. In the previous 12 and a half days I had seen so much of the country including catching up with nine friends and visiting 13 cities. Despite this German adventure being over there was still two days left before I flew back allowing me to make a very quick visit to parts of the Netherlands which will be detailed in my next post.