Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A random morning in Aachen

Last week I spent Friday morning in Aachen, shopping for some toilettries and make-up which are quite cheaper in Germany than in The Netherlands. Aachen lies just in the border of Germany with The Netherlands and from Maastricht it is quite easy to reach it on a one hour bus ride. I really like going there from time to time for two reasons: first, just because of the excitement of being abroad, so easy, so quick, and secondly, because I really like Germany! Since I started learning German some 12 years ago (time flies!!!) I have been wanting to travel extensively around Germany. However, that hasn't happened yet, so I have to content myself with short daytrips to this currently neighbouring country of mine. 

Aachen is not too big, not specially charming and if you have studied as little history as I have, probably not so famous either. Before living in Maastricht, I had never heard the name Aachen, neither its Spanish version Aquisgrán, but then I learnt that it is particularly important in western European history, as Charlemagne once set the capital of his empire there. While he probably found the strategic situation of Aachen in the heart of Western Europe interesting, Charlemagne was actually taken by the allure of the thermal waters surrounding the region. And up to date, the city of Aachen still celebrates the richness of its waters with the many arty fountains spread all over the city and its crowded spa complex.

The city center of Aachen is rather small and the most central part is a pedestrian zone made of charming cobbled streets lined with bakeries in every corner. Probably, the oldest and most iconic fountain of the city is the Elisenbrunnen, which is part a fountain, part a neoclasical building and also hosts the tourist office. 

Besides the many fountains, the town hall is also worth a look. It somehow reminisces the architecture styles of neighbouring Netherlands and Belgium and just in front of it there's another fountain with Charlemagne still watching over the city upon it. This is probably the main square in Aachen and it is surrounded by lovely cafés with terraces full of wooden tables and banks to enjoy some nice German cuisine and beer, just like in many other streets in the city center. Oddly, there's also an Starbucks, I don't know why, but I found this rather surprising, as Aachen is not such a big city. Nearby the Markt and the town hall is the cathedral of Aachen and I particularly love it! It's not very big but it is really beautiful, somewhat eastern inspired with an octogonal dome and the interior is totally tiled with thousands of hundred tiny tiles of gold, green, blue, red ... Charlemagne is buried inside and for almost a millenium emperors and kings of the Holy Roman Empire were crowned within its walls (this time I arrived so early in the morning that the cathedral wasn't open yet, so no photos ... I'll try to take some pictures next time!)

Furthermore, there are some other things which really make me love a trip to Aachen, even though I cannot always enjoy them. As I said, the city has a nice spa and therapeutical swimming-pools complex. While it may not be as impressive as the Swiss ones secluded in the Alps, it is also a nice treat once in a while and kind of affordable. Then, when Christmas draws near there's also the joy of a wonderful christmas market filled with traditional handcrafted gifts, mulled wine and delicious sausages with sauerkraut, as well as many other seasonal treats! And speaking of treats, for a sweet tooth like mine Germany is just a paradise full of bakeries selling all sort of lovely sweet and salty snacks, I just can't get enough of it!

Deutschland, ich liebe dich and I really want to get to know more of you. Hopefully, some day I'll finally get on a train or a car and drive around the country discovering many other great places in Germany but in the meantime I'm really looking forward to going back to Aachen to have a taste of Christmas in the christmas market. And maybe I'll also indulge in a daytrip to Düsseldorf in the first weekend of November.


  1. Such charming photos, looks lovely! <3

    xoxo Bree
    The Urban Umbrella

    1. Thanks Bree, I enjoyed taking the photos as much as the daytrip :)

      xo Irene


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