My very first solo trip to a foreign country. I was under quite a lot of stress at the time, as I was in my penultimate year studying Biomedical Science, and I decided to go spend some time with a family friend who lived in Aachen. I had only heard of Aachen from her and had no idea what to expect. So I googled it, saw they had some very nice cathedrals which as you’ll come to find out, I really love, booked a train ticket and in a few weeks, I was on my way to Aachen.
In order to get there, I went via train (Eurostar) from London, but you can also travel by coach or plane from London. I had to change trains at Brussels but the connection was not longer than 2 hours at most. The whole journey took less than 5 hours. The train ride itself was very comfortable with charging ports (which we all know are essential). I generally prefer travelling by train to travelling by air, as it is often a lot more comfortable, no luggage weight/size limits, copious amounts of legroom, and there are fewer security checks so it’s not as stressful.
As an English speaking traveller, and a solo traveller, Germany is one of the best non-english speaking places to go to. Most Germans also speak English, and It’s easy to navigate and use the public transport system, so you won’t have much difficulty finding your way around. And if you need help, just ask. Contrary to stereotypes, most of the Germans i met during my time there were incredibly nice people.
The city was beautiful and as a Nigerian, i encountered quite a few Nigerians who were resident there, which made me feel even more welcome. The food was … interesting with some good and bad options. I always like to order things i’m not familiar with when i’m in a new place. Half the time, the choices are horrible but the other half, they are far beyond my expectations and that somehow makes the horrible choices worth it to me. We all have to kiss a few frogs at some point in our lives. some of us choose to eat them instead.
Aachen like many other European cities had a lot of shopping options. From familiar stores like H&M, Mango and Zara, to more eccentric ones. There’s nothing you can’t find there. I did a lot of touring as usual, visiting Aachen cathedral and the town hall, where i happened upon a beautiful art exhibition on king Charlemagne that was going on at the time
I also visited the three border point, which is the intersection between Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. It is basically a park in Vaals, a small city in the Netherlands, about an hour away from Aachen (with a tour bus, so shorter if you’re driving). The highest point of Vaalsberg, is also the highest point in the Netherlands, so not only are you technically in 3 countries, but you can also check another milestone off your list. I unfortunately didn’t take a lot of pictures while i was there, as this was back in 2014, and I didn’t think i would ever start a travel blog.
After two weeks in Aachen, I realised that travelling to a new place, meeting wonderful and interesting people and eating wonderful and interesting things, was exactly what I needed in times of stress. It filled me with a renewed fire and confidence to go out and face life when I got back to London, and that summer I did a lot better in my exams than i would have predicted, as i was more relaxed, so it was also academically beneficial.
Unfortunately, it took me 2 years to finally take my next trip, mainly because I became focused on my dissertation, working part time and trying to get into medical school. But that also led to me being burnt out and long story short, it made me realise how beneficial travelling to Aachen was for me and reinforced all the principles that I am going to be focusing on the blog, such as how travelling the world can change your outlook on life, often for the better. I intend on visiting Aachen again, as it is a nice place for a short trip if you live in Europe, and as it is so close to the Netherlands and Belgium, it makes a great stop for a Euro tour which is another reason why I’d be going back someday.
Hope you enjoyed the post,
Peace and Love,