A great 10 hours sleep, breakfast of waffles and coffee and a short walk to the station and the ICE train to Aachen.
You could just about smell the horses as you arrive. Horse statues outside the station, banners, signs. The main reason for my visit there the CHIO Aachen World Festival of Horse Sports is a big thing here. That and the history of Karl the great – Charlemagne who lived and reigned from 742 AD to 814 AD. He was the first emperor in Europe since the demise of the Romans and made Aachen the capital of the Carolingian Dynasty. Apart from uniting Western Europe one of his crowning achievement was the building of the Aachen Cathedral in a Byzantine style. It was consecrated in 805 AD, and was the site of the coronation of over 40 Kings and Queens. The throne sits on an elevated platform in the cathedral and is constructed of plain marble slabs brought back from Jerusalem. The lead lights had to be replaced after WWII due to bomb blast pressure waves blowing them out.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and rightly so. I much preferred it to the more opulent Cologne Cathedral. The 400 year time difference might have had something to do with that. The reliquary in the treasury doesn’t pull any punches though. Charlemagne having been declared a Saint had bits of him in ornate gold plated silver arm and bust, which even appeared in a movie.
Then it was time to leave town, and the country. I needed the walk anyway. I headed to the 3 countries corner, where the borders of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany meet. It also happens to be the highest hill in the mainland Netherlands, the Valserberg at 323 meters. The climb up the lookout tower was almost harder than the few kilometer walk from Aachen to here through bucolic countryside. At the border intersection there was a pointed stone marker. If you carefully jumped on top of it without impaling yourself you could be in 3 countries at once.
Then back to the hotel and on the CHIO Aachen to play spectator and watch some World class riding