Thursday, 13 August 2015

Aachen and Cologne: We didn't see the very best pair of underpants

Our initial plans were to travel from the Netherlands through Hamburg to Scandanavia, but unseasonably poor weather made us rethink our route. 
Sweden and Norway were experiencing much colder temperatures than their average summers, while Prague, Eastern Europe and Greece looked immeasurably more inviting. If we had been travelling in a campervan I would have braved it, but erecting and packing up a tent in the rain every day for weeks puts a bit of a damper on things. 

Aachen, Germany
On our adjusted trajectory, we were planning to drive through the middle section of Germany on the way to the Czech Republic. 
Our first stop was Aachen, where a bizarre cathedral dominated the main square. It was comprised of the central building with several add-ons from different eras. Even the central part felt like a jumble of shapes and contours. 
While trying to find the entrance, we were met with a scowl from a fountain of a boy holding two fish. Why is this here?! Why is this anywhere? When we found the door we discovered that he cathedral was closed, which we were looking forward to seeing as the burial place of Charlemagne. Among Charlemagne's treasured possessions was a loincloth allegedly worn by Jesus at his crucifixion - this and other sacred relics (underpants) are on display to the public only once every seven years and we missed out. 
A specialty of the Aachen area is a biscuit called printen, which are a type of chewy gingerbread. To be honest, this was one of the reasons we visited Aachen. (The second reason was the cathedral and those two reasons were almost on par with each other when deciding whether to visit the town). 
On our way back to the car, we saw a jewellers shop that was using the French soft drink Orangina to advertise its jewellery, though I'm not sure how that works. Alongside a vintage Orangina poster sat a giant bottle of the orange liquid. I looked and pondered, but couldn't figure out how the two ideas coalesced. Overall, our trip through Aachen was thought provoking, but we never did solve the mysteries of the boy holding fish or the Orangina jewellers. 

Cologne, Germany
Jack from Maastricht had told us not to miss the towering spires of Köln's cathedral, and as promised we were delivered an awe-inspiring sight. 
It's the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, with soaring vaulted ceilings. After our research of the city didn't turn up much apart from the cathedral, we simply parked by it, got out to look and left again. Next on our list was a much more appealing Trier, with Roman ruins and vineyard walks. That definitely sounded more like my style.