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Published: December 22nd 2014
Chisco, Lordes and Luna gave me a ride to the Esch train station this morning, so I made my way back to Luxembourg City in good time and waited for my train to Aachen. I actually had two stops - Liege and Welkenraedt. The ride to Liege was more than two hours and pretty relaxing. Not the nicest of trains, but empty and had a couple of super hot young conductors!
I arrived in Liege and was happy to see the things I'd read about its train station had not been exaggerated: it was mind-blowing! Absolutely incredible! Pictures do not do it justice and I bet in non-winter months, it is even more amazing. Unfortunately, my next train was 11 minutes late and I really worried I would miss my connection to Aachen. But it was a short trip, where I got off on the second stop. At first, I thought I'd missed my train because it was a good five minutes after the departure time and I dreaded having to wait another hour until the next one; Welkenraedt train station was a little frightening…. However, it appears the Aachen train was also late and that was why all the
people were waiting on the platform. Woohoo!!!
I arrived in Aachen and immediately headed to buy my ticket for the next day. I like the system that I've encountered so far - press for a ticket and wait for your number to be called. No waiting in lines, having to worry about people cutting in front of you, etc. I didn't have to wait too long and got a lady who was able to book me first class from Cologne to Munich for a very decent price. I leave mid-day tomorrow, so that gives me time in the morning to either check things out if I pass out tonight or sleep in.
It was raining out and I could not find a decent map of the city, so I just hailed a cab. The guy was great and took me to my hotel quickly - Mercure Dom. I was checked in pretty fast and found my room to be pretty nice. I am also located right in the heart of town, so it turns out everything was in super easy walking distance. I mean, literally around the corner. First I stopped at a shoe store and got some
new boots - small, inexpensive black boots. It's funny to note the shoe sizes here too compared to the Middle East and Asia! I have very small feet and in Doha I usually have no problems finding shoes. Here, I was taken aback by the large size shoes they had and half the time when I find shoes I like, they don't have my size. But the ones I bought did the trick and I kept them on and headed to the square.
The Christmas market was close by and I headed over. I saw the cathedral in front of me and could not wait to go inside! But I guess I went the wrong way round. And oh my god - the Christmas market was HUGE! It went on forever! It was all the way around the cathedral and between towards the Town Hall. There were lots of stalls selling German foods, hot wine, sweets, hand crafts, candles, etc. There were also a bazillion people!
I found myself standing up on the stairs of the Town Hall taking photos and decided to pay the three euros to see inside. It was underwhelming, but nice. It would definitely
be nice to be a town representative - what a great place to work! There was a lot of old mixed with new - the council chambers had desks with microphones in this beautiful old room. Walking upstairs, you had a great view of the Christmas market towards the Cathedral. Then the top floor had a huge hall where I guess is an assembly room. Again - old and new. So incredible to think that this is your town hall, the town where Charlemagne lived, a town steeped in hundreds of years of political history. Amazing.
I went back outside, meandered through the market and made my way towards the Cathedral. I really wanted to go and Chisco and Lordes had mentioned that it may close by 6pm to visitors. I made it and wandered through. You had to pay a euro to take photos, which I was totally ok with. It was beautiful. So old and awe-inspiring. A lot was blocked off, so it was difficult to see some things, but I had a small pamphlet which described a lot that you are seeing from a distance. I will probably return in the morning to take photos during
the day - some of the things I think were hard to see in the dark or I could at least get different angles.
History lesson. Charlemagne's tomb is located at the very back wall in a gold shrine which displays sixteen of his successors. I guess the shrine was made in 1215, even though he died in 814 - it has housed his bones ever since. Emperor Otto III (d. 1002) is also near - his memorial slab was placed in 1834 and his sarcophagus moved here in 1414. The Shrine of St Mary contains the four great Aachen relics - every seven years they are put on display and the great pilgrimage occurs. June 2014 was the latest pilgrimage. The shrine is also in gold and has figures of Christ, Mary, Charlemagne, Pope Leo III and the twelve apostles. I also liked the Radiant Madonna, hanging from the choir ceiling - beautiful. The core building is shaped like as an octagon and was constructed around the year 800. The "Barbarossa" chandelier was gifted from Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa and his wife Beatrix in around the year 1165.
Ok, still so excited that I finally got to
Charlemagne's gold sarcophagus is located in the back
visit the place of Charlemagne!
After the cathedral, I returned to the Christmas market. I really, really want to get some gifts! But I found a sausage vendor so I could have my train snack for tomorrow. I also got a cup of hot chocolate from a not-so-friendly vendor; I almost left sad, since the two girls working had looked at me a couple of times and ignored me, until a guy joined them and took my order. Then I wandered some more, seeing potential ornaments, but again, nothing that said "Aachen". Last year in Vienna, I got ornaments decorated with scenes of Vienna so that you can always remember. These were nice, but they were routine images. I next got a drink from a much friendlier vendor - she and the guy asked how they could help me and I said I wanted something hot with alcohol, so she gave me a delicious egg-nog. Seriously, delicious, and not usually my favorite to drink!
After that, I started to get tired, so headed back to my hotel for a long hot shower, and to update you all. Oh, and to do a little bit of work, of course!
Stepped today: 8,484 (3.50 miles). Hmmm… I slacked off!
Tot: 2.754s; Tpl: 0.065s; cc: 13; qc: 27; dbt: 0.0363s; 2; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb