Aachen was an important city in Germany in the Middle Ages, and is where the kings of Germany were crowned. It was Charlemagne’s favorite place to be, and undoubtedly his mark is felt on the city.
I really enjoyed our visit to Aachen–at just this time last year. The Mann lived there when doing graduate work, so he was able to show me around. I thought the city had a really nice vibe and feel to it. It felt low-key, and yet it had that energetic “university town” element to it. We talked a lot about how livable it feels.
The Kölner Dom: Hard to fit in one photo. Photo (c) Resident on Earth
One day last May as we were zipping along the Autobahn at light speed, we decided to make an impromptu stop in Köln (Cologne) to see its impressive and famous cathedral, the Kölner Dom. So we zipped in, saw it, and zipped out.
And impressive it is, to say the least. I craned my head back, looked up at it, and said, “Mein Gott!” It was hard to even fit the whole front facade into one photo. The cathedral is one of the world’s largest churches, and is the largest gothic church in northern Europe. With its enormous twin spires, it boasts the largest facade of any church in the world. Construction on the cathedral began in 1248, and building continued intermittently until its completion in 1880. It seems the cathedral is continually under some kind of renovation/restoration…always. The Mann says this is the Sagrada Familia of German building projects.
Yesterday was Rosenmontag (Rose Monday), part of Germany’s carnival celebrations before Lent. This is a time of year when Germans don silly costumes in order to overcompensate for generally being a serious and humorless people.
Well, the humorless part is not always true. But even The Mann admitted, after we sat silently (and with open mouths) staring at a carnival variety TV show one night wherein Germans very horribly attempted slapstick humor, that “This is not humor. Germans think that just because they put on silly costumes and make stupid jokes that they are being funny.”
Who'd have thought? The best Asian food I've had in Germany was at the Frankfurt train station. Photo (cc) Resident on Earth
You may laugh, but I have to say that some of the yummiest Asian food I’ve had in Germany was at none other than the Frankfurt Hauptbanhof (that is, the main train station, for the English-speaking folks). For those of you traveling through the station, I’d highly recommend trackside dining at the Asia Gourmet. It’s clear over on the side, by tracks 22 and 23.
Last Friday afternoon I took the train into Frankfurt for an afternoon of shopping, and my first stop was lunch at this place. It’s my Frankfurt ritual.
This is a preview of Eating out at the…Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof?.
One Sunday last June, despite the fact that we were monstrously tired and the weather was rainyish, we trekked all the way out to Gelnhausen for their medieval festival. Of course it was only marginally historical, but still, rather fun.
This is where Germans love to dress up in spectacularly bad costumes and act all medievally by laboring with crude materials and standing around smoky fire pits cooking food that went out of style for a reason. At one food stall they were actually roasting a pig’s head – yes, a pig’s head, and some tourist was eagerly kneeling before the fire with his crude wooden plate outstretched and waiting for the medieval impersonator to carve off some meat.
This is a preview of Roasted pig’s head and other delicacies.
Learning German isn't just about reading books: you can learn just as much by watching television shows. Photo (cc) flickr user Lubs Mary
I’m dreaming in German now. Ah, so it has come to this. Last night I dreamed that it came out in a shocking news story that America was using fresh Dachshund (wiener dog) meat in its sushi. I expressed in this dream my shock and dismay – in German – with an Afghan woman from my class.
In other language-learning news, I’ve found in the past month that watching children’s TV is an excellent way to learn the language. My new nightly ritual is to tune in every night at 7:45 for the kid’s version of Nachtrichten (news) on KiKa. This is where German children learn at an early age to be knowledgeable and serious citizens of the world.
This is a preview of Learning German through Kindervision.
The first time I was in Berlin, I left the city in the hush of the early morning hours. I awoke at the ungodly hour of 4 AM, slipped into a taxi, and sleepily watched the streets in the morning darkness on the way to the airport. Berlin was at the tail end of my first trip to Europe, and I didn’t want to go home. I felt my heart was being pulled out of me as I rode in that dark taxi speeding towards the airport. I had completely fallen in love with Europe.