I visited Aachen, Germany in the Spring of 2016. This was my second time visiting Germany, and guess what? Germany was the first European country that I could see myself living in, namely Berlin. Did you know I even took half a year of German course? I finished the entire A1 course and was a quarter into A2! Aachen was my third German city after Berlin and Düsseldorf, and I also visited Bonn and Cologne on the same trip to Aachen. But to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect because I wouldn’t even consider visiting Aachen at all if Jim wasn’t working there. Anyhow, Aachen proved itself worthy of a visit for several reasons, especially around Spring time.
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Why visit Aachen, Germany in Spring?
Of course, you can visit Aachen any time, but Spring does make Aachen a bit more special. I did some random research on what to do in Aachen before I went, and I found out that Aachen has one thing in Spring that would make me go nuts:
The post-Easter sale at the Lindt factory outlet. (Yes, the Swiss chocolate company.)
I already learned in my German class that the best time to buy chocolates is after Easter because all the chocolates go on sale right after Easter. Plus, what’s better than buying discount chocolates from a chocolate outlet store? Oh yeah, I demanded Jim to take me to the outlet, and I did not hold back.
Like seriously, how could you resist this?
Aachen is also famous for its local sweets: Aachener Printen.
Printen is a type of lebkuchen, which is a traditional German baked holiday treat that tastes like gingerbread. The main ingredients include cinnamon, aniseed, clove, and ginger, and it’s sweetened with honey or sugar beets. I’d say it’s an acquired taste that not everyone is a fan of it. I bought a box for my parents, and I was the only person eating it. (Oops.) You can also find Printen with nuts, glaze, marzipan, or covered in chocolate.
There are many Printen stores around Aachen’s old town, and they go all out on decorating their store windows! The colourful, flowery decoration certainly tells me the footsteps of spring is just around the corner!
And speaking of Spring, you cannot miss:
Der Öcher Bend
Der Öcher Bend is a two-week-long annual spring fair that’s hosted at Aachen’s Bendplatz, which is a 40,000 sqm that is dedicated to events like this. Öcher Bend actually happens twice a year. Once in Summer and once in Spring. Mobile amusement park rides, happy hour at the Biergarten, German sausages, and much more! It’s a perfect place for people watching, and it’s free to enter. We had some delicious weissbier and sausages there.
Jim wouldn’t stop talking about this thermal bath he loved so much. He even took a weekend going back to Aachen and spent a day at the thermal after he moved away. Carolus Thermen was the one we went, and it was incredible indeed. It got several floors of spas, baths, and different types of sauna, both indoor and outdoor.
I personally enjoyed the sauna that gives you chocolate scented mud to put on your skin during the “baking.” You then wash it off afterwards, and your skin will become very very smooth! The whole atmosphere was tranquil and rejuvenating. The facilities also include a restaurant, which offers delicious fusion cuisine. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any pictures inside as the use of phones wasn’t allowed inside, but if you are interested, here’s the website.
Oh, did I mention you need to be completely naked to enter the bath? And yes, you share the facilities with the opposite sex. It was my first time being completely naked in front of many men I didn’t know. Did I feel awkward? Not really. It was quite liberating.
Aachener Dom (Aachen Cathedral)
Located in the old town of Aachen, Aachener Dom is the oldest cathedral in Northern Europe. The cathedral was also where the coronation of 31 German kings and 12 queens took place between 936~1531AD. The interior was gorgeous, and you can see beautiful cherry blossoms outside of der Dom around Easter time. I’ll let the pictures speak for itself.
And of course, The Three Country Point:
Dreaming about teleporting? If you come to Aachen, you will get to visit Netherlands and Belgium at the same time, all within 30 seconds! It’s a cool spot to take pictures, so you can brag to your friends. There are walking paths and hiking trails nearby if you are looking for some outdoor activities. It was raining on the day we visited.
And yes, I took a picture on each side of the border. It was pretty fun and boring at the same time.
I am skipping my Belgium one cause it looked exactly the same as the Netherlands one, except it says “B” on the pillar. We drove to Liège, Belgium afterwards for some delicious frits, though.
How to get to Aachen:
Aachen is on the border of Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. It’s also very close to Cologne and Duüsseldorf. If you are travelling within Europe, Jim used to fly into Düsseldorf and Brussels from Sweden, and then he would take a train. When I visited from Taiwan, I flew into Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and took two different trains. Some of the apps in the list of mobile travel apps I compiled should help you to find the best route. Aachen is also great to visit if you are doing a road trip in Europe!
What is your favourite city/country to visit in Spring?
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Also published on Medium.