Friday, January 18, 2013

Tiles on the Ceiling & a train to Cologne

After yesterday’s late arrival into Aachen, we only really had half a day to explore this pretty town. A bit of a sleep in, and some breakfast (or maybe that should almost be morning tea) we set off into the Alstadt and back to explore the Dom.  The outside is pretty amazing but the front door really belies the incredible, amazing beauty which greets the visitor when they walk through the door.

It’s a really tall cathedral and every single inch of the ceilings (on all 3 levels) are covered in mosaics.  Golds & blues, flowers, geometric patterns, depictions of scenes from the bible… it is utterly utterly stunning and worthy on its UNESCO World Heritage Listing.  We spent ages wandering round with our mouths open as each corner brought something new.  Behind the altar are 2 amazing gold sarcophagus’ … one containing the body of Charlemagne, who made Aachen his capital of the Holy Roman Empire in 794, the other is the Shrine of Mary (containing 4 relics of Mary – which are taken out and displayed every 7 years).  The chandelier which hangs in the middle of the church was a gift from Barbarossa in about 1165.  There is also the Tomb of Otto III (buried in 1002)  and Charlemagne’s throne which saw the coronation of more than 30 German kings.  Unfortunately, the English guided tour was at 2pm and by then we were on a train to Cologne.

I also went through the Dom Treasury where all the priceless religious items are kept.  Relinquaires, a bust of Charlemagne, crowns, gold altars… mind blowing even for this dirty little heathen.  Only problem was a ‘no photos’ edict posted on the door.

A quick bite to eat and we were off to Cologne.  Our train was 10 min late into Cologne (some problem between Duren & Horrem where we sat for 10 min) and then we had to navigate our way from the Hbf to the apartment we’d rented on the other side of the Rhine.  We managed to catch the train to the appropriate station for our tram but then got on the tram going in the wrong direction!  We finally arrived at the flat about 4.15.  It’s the smallest (most ‘compact’) of the flats we have rented but for 3 days is perfectly fine and in easy walking distance of eateries, a supermarket and plenty of shops … the building fronts onto the Rhine (our window looks into a tiny courtyard unfortunately) and the mighty Dom is across the river and easily visible past the Deutzer Brucke.  Tomorrow we’ll explore the Dom and the Roman ruins of Cologne and with luck fit in the Ludwig Museum with its collection of Picassos.

Internet access for the next 3 days might be fun … Michael provided a USB stick but this stupid laptop won’t let me connect with it ….Starbucks might be looking good!

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