Saturday, January 22, 2011

Das Dreiländereck

Of course, nobody but a German would know what this cryptic title could mean, but I went there yesterday: It's the spot where Germany, Holland, and Belgium have a common border. It's only about a 20-minute walk from Dieter and Marjo's place here in Vaals, just outside of Aachen and just a stone's throw away from the border with the Netherlands.

Train station in Cologne
After an easy flight to Frankfurt I took the train up to Aachen, briefly stopping over in Cologne and changing over from the ICE super-duper 150-mph train to the Regionalbahn. In Aachen, Dieter picked me up from the train station, and after a light lunch we went up to the Dreiländereck where we had a cup of coffee. Even though the place is fairly high above Aachen the view was non-existent, thanks to heavy fog. Actually, the weather is just what I had remembered from this part of the world: right around freezing, foggy, drizzly, and totally uncomfortable. Later it snowed a little, just to add a little flavor.
The Abbey of Val-Dieu in the fog

Good thing that German houses are built well and that they have central heating. That, and a case of beer on the balcony to keep it cold, make for a cozy evening with friends.

Blonde de l'Abbeye Val-Dieu
Today we went for an excursion to the old Dutch city of Maastricht, where the bicycle rules and people sit in outdoor cafes despite the weather. On the way, however, we stopped over at the ancient l'Abbaye du Val-Dieux, which was founded in 1216. Beautiful gardens, pretty church, absolutely fantastic abbey beer! I had a blonde and a bruine, and both were stunning. I could have stayed there all afternoon.

Outdoor cafe in Maastricht
Bikes and umbrellas ...
The city of Maastricht, where I had been before, has pretty little shops and lots of people milling around or, as you can see, hanging out in the outdoor cafes. Nuts, despite some of the infrared heaters. We ran out of time to have another quaff but enjoyed a good pizza later on, in a small Italian restaurant right on the border. Since Dieter and Marjo live just around the corner we were home by 8 p.m., and the rest of the evening was spent talking and nursing a few more good beers. And now it is after 1 p.m., and I better go to bed!


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