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Friday, January 18, 2013

All About Aachen...and a German Boot

It's raining as I sit in a train. The weather is trying to show me how German it is, as I haven't seen the sun for two weeks My mother is here. She sits opposite me. I can see her mouth moving, but I tune her out. Thinking that it was a bad idea to take my mother Couchsurfing, I sigh heavily, hoping that the weekend won't end in regrets.

Getting off at the wrong stop, we were lucky enough to have a really sweet host, who picked us up with his car. Looking around his cosy flat, ten minutes from the center of Aachen, I see a guitar in a corner, chocolate in a bowl, an open camera bag with several types of lenses, and I can smell incense. Hmm, I think. This might not be so bad.

Proceeding on what was more or less a night hike around Aachen, my soul was soothed by the sights: the large, well-lit theater with its tall, graceful Ionian columns, the Roman temple style beautifully matched by the Elisenbrunnen, a neoclassical hall which houses one of the city's fountains (see photo). I learned that Aachen had been a famous spa center, known for its natural thermal springs.

The fountain water smelt of rotten eggs, but tasted pretty ok (unlike when I'd done the same thing in Koblenz where the water actually tasted like warm blood!).

We also saw the Puppenbrunnen,or Puppet Fountain, a really cool fountain made with moveable bronze statuettes; we enjoyed a good laugh whilst being immature and moving the hands of the figures into rude postures. On our way to a Mexican restaurant, some locals overheard us speaking in English. One of the men approached us, looked at us seriously. He then proceeded to stretch out his leg, and motioned with his hands towards his foot.

" See", he said, "Zis iss a German boot."

We burst out laughing.

The day after, my mother and I set off, laden with a heavily marked map, and explored the city-center. There were Printen-B├Ąckerei everywhere, so we obviously realised that they are the typical cookies of the region. We even saw an entire cake made just from the cookies, which was like a metre-high tower!! One of the most memorable things we did was visit the Aachen Cathedral. Officially Northern Europe's oldest cathedral and the first to be registered on the UNESCO list of world heritage in 1978, the Aachen Dom was the church of coronation for 30 German kings and 12 queens. Entering inside, I could see why- all the walls and the entire ceiling were covered in a sparkling mosaic; Jesus and his apostles came alive as the beautiful array of shimmering colours danced in the dimmed light.

It was a joy to stroll at a leisurely pace along the cobbled roads, peeking into the numerous little shops, all with a distinct character of their own. The quaint antique stores with their old-fashioned hat boxes and pocket watches, and heavily perfumed Indie stores selling little wooden Buddhas and crystals, amongst the usual retailer's outlets.

I also took my mother to try the typical food of the region: Currywurst! Though I think she preferred the coffee...We ended the day having dinner at our host's place; some Maltese cheese and galletti. Good wine, some jamming on the guitar, and talking till 2am!

All in all, another great Couchsurfing experience!

Picture below with many thanks, by our lovely host David Wichert

ANNDDD, tune in next time, when I will take you on a trip to.. SWEDEN!

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