|Aachen one day on
||[Apr. 21st, 2017|07:34 pm]
I have wanted to visit Aachen for as long as I have known where it is. Longer, in fact, since it took me quite a long time to work out a) that Aachen and Aix-la-Chapelle are the same place and b) that Aix-la-Chapelle is nowhere near Aix-en-Provence (though 'Aix' in each case refers to mineral springs). Once I had that sorted out, I wanted to visit, because:
This was Charlemagne's capital, he built the eponymous chapel, and it is still here. Who wouldn't want to see that? I don't hold with bucket lists, which I regard as a way of deferring doing things that other people think you ought to want ("oh, it's OK, it's on my bucket list..."): but if I had a bucket list, Aachen would have been on it.
No pressure then. But our arrival was disconcerting. This is the only hotel of the trip that doesn't have its own parking: Booking.com says "Public parking is available 200 m away from the property," and since the Routard guide gives it a rave recommendation, we thought we'd risk it. So we double parked to unload the suitcases, and by the time we'd done that, there was a space free outside the hotel, and the proprietress said just park there, and get a ticket from the meter. Roger trotted off to do that, and I carried on with booking in (there were forms to be completed). "Oh," said the proprietress, "it says here that you want a green sticker..." I what? But as I was denying all knowledge of this, Roger returned, having fended off a traffic warden who told him he needed a green sticker. It emerged that many German towns do now require a sticker proclaiming that your car meets environmental standards, and it isn't very expensive but you really do need to have one. There are various people who might have warned us of this (whoever attached that message to our online booking; the car insurance company, who required us to tell them we were coming to Germany...) but no-one had. Our hostess was very helpful about phoning around and discovering a garage who would sell us a 'Grüne Plakette' in the morning, and meanwhile we were less likely to be fined for not having one if we parked the car off-street in that multi-story car park 200 m away. Roger was a bit disgruntled about this, having already paid for on-street parking, but it couldn't be helped.
Anyway, that's the story I didn't want to post last night, and I was right, because today is much happier. We found the garage, and I knew all would be well when I saw my tutelary deity
The garage man was very helpful, and patient with my rudimentary German - actually, people in Aachen do seem to be generally friendly and helpful: you can't examine a map in the street without someone asking if they can help - and told us where on the windscreen to stick our sticker, and reassured us that it was valid indefinitely and throughout the country. We went back to the multi-story to make the car legal, then back to the Elisenbrunnen restaurant where we had eaten Wiener schnitzel last night (oh, yes, it wasn't all bad!) for a much-needed coffee.
Now we were free to be tourists, and we headed for the Dom, the cathedral. I paid my euro and got my permit to take photos - and I made good use of it. But just one, tonight:
I haven't yet found any clear information about that riot of mosaic, which covers all the vaulted aisles (descriptions focus on the mosaic of the dome, which you can't see in this picture). But the building itself, including those upper galleries, is Carolingian. Did someone mention the 'Dark Ages'?
So that was good. And now I'm going to have a bath, and complete the destressing process.
This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.