FRIDAY 25th of March 2011
I had to get up at 4h30 in the morning to get the first Metro to Gare du Nord... 2 days before I checked by going to Gare du Nord how long it takes to get there.... I asked the personnel on the station what time the metro trains start and they said at 5h00.... so I thought I was prepared.... but: when I came at the station just after 5 there was a huge iron gate before the entrance....I started to panic a bit because if I couldn't get the train I would not be in time. In desperation I asked one of the people who sleep on the benches what I had to do.... he was comforting and very kind and said I don't have to worry the gate will open....
and it did.... I was on my way to the Cite across the road from the Metro PONT MARIE to ask if they had information when I heard the gate open ----- I must have triggered the sensor or something. Then I was waiting for the train the first one on the station.... and after that everything worked out. I was so relieved!
The above a weinstube, roman baths and the busy shopping area in the old city
Left to right: a printen statue ( a cookie Aachen is famous for) - the Aachen Dom (church) which was built by Charlemagne, and where a lot of German kings were crowned, and the inside of this wonderful church... unbelieveable craftmanship and the mosaic tiles gold, and coloured ones.... marvellous
My friend in Germany got me on the station and then we went to her flat with a bus and afterwards walked around the town of Aachen where she studies "Waste management" a new field of study. It was a wonderful tour of the city and we bought apple pancakes, sat in the sun when we waited for a tour of the old church which was built by Charlemagne and even went to the industrial area where we went to the Lindt factory where I saw the largest golden Lindt bunny I have ever seen.... a kg of Lindt in a bunny..... the choice was "awesome" for lack of a better word.... it was jaw dropping.
The Lindt Factory in Aachen.... with a huge blown up bunny and a 1 kg lindt bunny on the right... I was not supposed to take photo's - but I had to take this one.... never saw it before
I bought a few Lindt chocolates there for my family in flavours we don't get at home.
We waited for her parents in her flat and then we had supper in town.... at an Italian restaurant where we had wonderful pasta and then walked back to her flat to get our luggage.... it was a very high 4 flights of stairs for the 4th time that day.... but low and behold I made it....
We went to their home in Monchengladbach.... and I slept like a log.
SATURDAY 26th March 2011
We had a wonderful breakfast of fresh bread and meat and yoghurt and coffee and then went to a market (organic) where we got some interesting vegetables like swartzenwurtzeln, I hope I get the name right.... and other interesting vegetables and fruit like blood oranges.
We visited a small mill which is still milling wheat for the bread that they bake - so we also bought some bread and then went on to experience Xanten.
The above, view out of my window - deer next door and the garden.....a work in progress...
The above, view out of my window - deer next door and the garden.....a work in progress...
Xanten is an archeological city - in some parts rebuilt to give you an idea of what it was like when the Romans had their city there.....
Afterwards we went to see the little town at the mill and had some coffee - and cake....
We went home where we had some rest and then had a wonderful supper with wine and lovely food..... made with care and good ingredients....
SUNDAY 27th March 2011
After breakfast my young German friend made some fresh pasta.... (incidentally I received the "pasta stick" to roll the pasta from her - her dad made it for her - and then they bought her another one in Paris at a speciality shop. - and I got the recipe so in future I will try and make my own...)
The coalmine is still used for various things including museum, party venue, and apparently last year there were an ice rink built on the premises.
We had some coffee and cake and then went to Dusseldorf - where we had a long walk on the promenade, and then through the Altstadt (the old town) where I tasted the Alt beer, for which Dusseldorf is famous.
MONDAY 28th March 2011
During the morning we made fresh vanilla ice cream.... yes, home made....unbelieveable but one can actually do it and it is so much nicer than the bought ones. When I am home my daughter and I will try this..... I think she will like to do it.
Then I went to my youngest daughters' host parents when she was an exchange student in Germany in Voerde - Spellen - about an hours' drive away.... they picked me up and brought me back - I met the whole family and some other friends and M the middle daughter made us a beautiful heart shaped cake and on my cup was my name..... I felt at home.... was teary as well, because the visit there was as if I had contact with my daughter and that made me very happy.... obviously I missed my family - and felt a connection to her there.
A day at the family in Voerde.... I can understand why my daughter loved it so much and why she loves the family and their lifestyle so much
We then had a wonderful walk to the Rhine river and through the fields and the two daughters were in-line skating with us there and back..... they are quite good at it .... and we talked some about the children and about my daughter....I understand why my daughter had such a wonderful time with them and why she misses them still.....they showed me the way that she used to jog or walk and it made me understand a lot. She loved the "freeness" of it all.
We had a wonderful homemade supper - the noodles were made by my host herself.... we talked some more and then the day was over....and they had to take me back
I went home - to my friends in Monchengladbach....
TUESDAY 29th March 2011
The Cologne Cathedral from various points..... in the middle from the bridge with all the locks....the bridge goes right over the river Rhine
We went to Cologne or Koln as some people say.... we had to be on the station early and took an hour long trainride to Cologne where we walked around the city along a huge bridge over the Rhine - full of little locks from lovers all over and then through the Altstadt
A musician in the street where the shops are.... Globetrotter shop where they have a special pool in the shop for people to test the canoes, and a row of very old houses in the Aldtstadt
The above - part of the wall of the old city, the locks on the bridge and the park we had lunch....we saw various characters there
The 4711 Building on the left and the inside of the Cologne Cathedral and one of the beautiful windows
we wanted to do a guided tour of the Cologne Cathedral, but then were too late because we were too far out in the city and we walked back taking our time and visited an amazing shop where we saw all kinds of special luxury things and it was good to see good quality and special products.
The above, the river Rhine from the tower of the Cathedral and the top above the bell....and then still higher we climbed
AND THEN we went to the Cologne Cathedral with its amazing tall tower - 533 steps..... and we climbed then all - my friends were very kind and did it with me although they have done it before.... I really appreciate it I wouldn't have been able to do it alone....
Afterwards we went to the Chopard Shop next to the Cathedral to get information about perfume for me - they were extremely cautious (Chopard also makes jewellery) - had a doorman - the door was locked, the lady inside extremely well dressed and cultivated - and I just did 1066 steps (up and down) - did not look the picture I think she had of her clients, but I got the information I needed.... then went to another shop and bought it much cheaper there, as well as got a little present with the perfume.....
I prepared the food that evening - something South African, bobotie with sweet potato and banana - and some chutney
WEDNESDAY 30 March 2011
My host took some holiday and on this day we had a late breakfast and then decided to go to Maastricht. I felt a bit quilty that I did not get my nephew's telephone number then I could have arranged to say hello, but it was water under the bridge and too late notice.... I couldn't get it then I did not even have his parents' number in the Netherlands....why I did not take it with - I really don't know.
Maastricht is about an hour's drive away and then we walked around the old city and we visited the market there and bought some raisin buns - which we later had on a bench at the city square.... the old city was beautiful and I really enjoyed walking through it.... it might also be the language there, Dutch - but I felt quite at home..... and here and there I could understand what was written on the buildings.... and in the shops.
We had something for lunch and sat at this square.... on the back of us restaurants and in front of us these churchbuildings.... the people on the bench I just had to take a photo of and a little "bus" driving down the road
Afterwards we went home and on our way we bought some plants for the garden which my host planted when we came home...... the next day we would be off for the Mosel-area so they had to do some preparations and we had to pack our things.
The market a treat as always.... the tulips 3 bunches for 5 euro...in Paris 1 bunch for 5 euro but then that is Paris
We waited outside a supermarket and something which caught my eye was the figurines above the doors.... on the left there is a golden unicorn..... - it was the name of the house.... and in the middle a bit of the old city and on the right a very modern shopping complex, but they left a part of an old building to remember it....
The house of my German Friends and the Mosel river - see the grape at what angle it is plantedThursday morning we tried to be off early as possible.... it took some doing, but we got away and we then went all the way to the Mosel where we saw a ruin of a castle and then another one which was in tact the Marksburg castle..... it was the first real castle I have ever seen and it was great... it makes history so alive.... they also had lots of information on the guided tour we took..... a wonderful experience and lovely photo's to be taken....
But, we also saw the Lorelei.....yes it does exists.... it actually is a huge rock and the folklore around it seems to have some origin in the truth...
A small town next to the Mosel and then on a ferry over the river and the Rheinfels castle which was a ruin but the first real castle I ever saw and its history
Left the Lorelei Rock and in the middle one of the 2 statues of the Lorelei one on the top of the rock and one in the river on a small island.....
.there also is a sculpture in the river on a bit of an island and another on one of the outlook points onto the Mosel.... we had amazing views and a small bottle of champagne to celebrate the wonderful day.... it was raining and my hair was dripping with water, but it was no problem.... we had fun and it was great.
We continued to Koblenz - we first had a look at a huge fort the Ehrenbritestein (and when you walk there it feels like something out of a "war movie" - it also houses a youth hostel, and we tried to get a peak at that for future reference if they wanted to come back .....we then went into Koblenz where we booked in at the Hotel and we went for quite a walk through the older town.... and then down to the German Corner where the Mosel and the Rhine meets..... - a wonderous experience and a bit "unreal."
Koblenz - we had a walk through the Aldtstadt - on the right the youth hostel
at Erinbritestein and at the bottom the "german corner" where the Mosel and the Rhine meet
We had a Vietnamese supper.....I had lots of vegetables and noodles and some chicken and my friends also had lovely food and then my host said he promised me a glass of wine at the Mosel so we had a lovely glass of wine at the Winestube nearby.
We retired to the hotel where again, we had a good rest.... I had a wonderful little room which was decorated in french fashion....
FRIDAY 1 April 2011
Next morning we had some breakfast..... a buffet and then went on to find the Burg Eltz - a castle which was still lived in about 250 years ago.....
Burg Eltz - an amazing castle and a walk through the woods there....what an adventure!
Parts of the castle..... and my friends
We came to the castle and although I wasn't allowed to take photo's on the inside it was good enough for me to take the outside they were renovating, and also just to be there.....
We had some sparkling wine, and cheese and apple on a bench in the shadow of the castle so to speak - and in all it was such a special thing to do.
We walked back and then we had to continue still had a 400 km of road to Paris ......... along the way we stopped at Luxembourg to get petrol it is amazing how much cheaper it was as in Germany.... the taxes on everything was much less.
And then we arrived in Paris and the MIJE made a few administrative errors with my friends' booking.... although they had a confirmation there was a hick-up and then there was another, but all's well that ends well and they got a room for the 3 of them and they had somewhere to sleep.
We came to my studio and had supper..... shrimps, with a tomato sauce and fresh pasta - I have never cooked in my studio.... the 2 plate was not working so well and my friend said she thinks her camping equipment might be better than this, but we got food made, and it was very very nice - warm food was the best thing after a long trip and tired feet.