Ok, so basically 2 weeks ago, while I was studying for my final exams, I received a message from my friends (from the Netherlands) asking me whether I wanted to join their trip planned, from Thursday to Sunday. Of course, like every other responsible person, I said yes in a heartbeat. Did I regret it? No. Did I pass my exams? Yes (I guess). While I was wandering around, I realised that it would be a great idea to write down and share my trip experience, since I love these kinds of "compact trips" that give me the opportunity to check the main landmarks, as well as the small city streets. So, if you want to get to know more about my trip to Düsseldorf, Köln, Aachen and Maastricht, keep reading!
The capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, Düsseldorf is the economic center of Germany with its banking, telecommunications, advertising companies and of course with its trade fairs. This posh city is one of the wealthiest cities in Germany; however, it's not only the economic center of Germany, but the city also offers great cultural activities and fashion! You can find almost every clothing company here, which is the main reason why my bank account is as "dry as Sahara desert" right now. What we did basically is first wandering around the beautiful old town of Düsseldorf, which has a great shopping center and more than 250 bars and cafes. And yes ,of course, we did drink the "Altbier" -which is a top-fermented dark beer- and enjoyed a big plate of Düsseldorfer Senfrostbraten -which is roasted pork with mustard-. After that, we wandered on the bank of the Rhine river, soaked, completely wet, because Germany has a lot of blessings one of which, is the constant rain. Since we had a couple of hours left to our next train, we decided to go to the Schloss Benrath and wandered around its 62,000 square meters park; we got completely mesmerised by its rococo style. If you want to enter the palace and check it out, keep in mind that it can be done within a 45-minute tour and it costs 10 Euros. We didn't go inside the palace due to tour hours, but I have been there before and it is so gorgeous, that you'd better check it out once there.
From Düsseldorf, Cologne is only approximately 44 km away, so we didn't hesitate to visit this amazing city! With its Gothic churches, chocolates, liberal people and of course its rich history, Cologne (Köln) is Germany's most visited city by tourists! It is the fourth largest city in Germany and it is also Germany's media and tourism hub. Cologne is a fascinating place with lots of wonderful sightseeing! First of all, let's praise the architecture of the Kölner Dom. This beautiful cathedral is also protected by UNESCO. It is the first sight you will notice, if you take the exit to the main station. If you have comfortable shoes and trust your stamina, don't forget to take the 509 stairs to reach the top of the South tower! Trust me, it is worth it. And that is exactly what we did. The rain turned into snow and when it snows in Cologne, it snows heavily. Honestly, I was not mad because snow made the whole scenery super fantastic. We did cross the Hohenzollernbrücke, which is the bridge in front of the Kölner Dom and took epic pictures of the Dom and the bridge! After a couple of beers, we wandered a little around the Rathaus -aka old town hall- to take more pictures and rushed to the train station to catch our next train to Aachen!
Aachen, a Baroque city, is 80 km away from Köln(Cologne), so it didn't take us too much time to reach. This spa-city with its great history, is at the point where Germany borders meet Belgium and the Netherlands; it also forms the economic region called the Euregio! In this medieval-styled city, you can admire lovely buildings, gorgeous city gates, cute fountains and many more. It is not only a point where countries meet, but it is also a city where the Baroque style meets modernity. Aachen is famous for its old town and historical landmarks but the most famous one is the Aachen Cathedral. In this "standing history", more than 30 Kings were crowned, 12 Queens were anointed, while inside the Cathedral, you can see the Palace Chapel from the year 800, the Gothic choir from 14th Century, bronze railings, golden masterpieces, beautiful glasswork and many more! This important venue for pilgrimage is on the list of UNESCO's World Heritage! Inside this amazing Cathedral, you can also get to see the burial place of Charlemagne - and his white marble imperial throne- and the cathedral treasury. Also every seven years (next one is at 2021), you can get to see the Christ’s loincloth, Mary’s cloak, the clothes used for John the Baptist when he was beheaded and clothes from when Jesus was an infant. Other than that, the interior of this cathedral is just SPECTACULAR! In order to photograph it, you should donate 1-2 Euros but it is definitely one of a kind. After the cathedral, we wandered around the old town and then went to the Suermondt Ludwig Museum. If you love medieval sculptures, you will love this museum. Not only that, but you can also find the best works from Cranach, Dürer, Macke, Dix and many more!
And our last stop was in Maastricht! It is located in the south of the Netherlands, which is very close to both Belgium and Germany (you can cycle or basically walk). The city stands along the Maas river and if you like old buildings, churches, fine cuisine and shopping, you will be obsessed with Maastricht. This small and cute city attracts both students with its Maastricht University, and tourists with its magnificent old town, which is one of the oldest in the Netherlands. We basically started exploring the city from its city center, which is one of the most picturesque stops in Maastricht. It is also covered with lots of great restaurants, cathedrals, impressive buildings and (again) shops! We wanted to take it easy, so we feasted in a nice restaurant and shopped for clothes and Dutch cheese -aka basic essentials. After that, we walked to the other side through the St.Servaasburg bridge, which is a pretty stunning landmark of the city. This limestone footbridge across the Meuse river is the oldest bridge in the Netherlands. The St.Servaasburg bridge was built in AD 50 by the Romans. During World War II, the bridge was damaged by the German army, that's why it was rebuilt in 1948.
After exploring the other side of Maastricht, we said our goodbyes and promised each other to meet again next year!
So, that is all folks! I hope I can inspire you a little bit to pack and explore these four beautiful cities :)
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