Monday, February 16, 2009

I made Sushi!!!

I made sushi today, it was so fun but very messy. I love that I am learning to make all these fun foods.

Cologne Germany...THE DOM

Following a glorious, relaxing day in Aachen Germany the party and I boarded the train to Cologne (Koln). It’s about an hour train ride with stops from Aachen, not much time to grab a nap. When you arrive in Cologne Central Station it is massive and full of people! It’s just as busy as some tube stations in London! It is always nice traveling with a group so that you don't feel so alone. I was able to embark on the Germany trip with all undergrad study abroad students from the Webster campus in St. Louis. (Danna, Bruce, Andrew, Mike, Scott, and myself) When we exited the station there it was, The Dom, a gothic cathedral, it’s huge. The group had booked a hostel that wasn't close to the city center but it was a great hostel. We were placed in an 8 person room with our own bathroom and shower so it wasn't a community style. Once we checked we were all hungry and started to discuss where to gets some grub. I had done my research on great places to eat on a budget thanks to the Europe on a Budget book I have used to base all travel on. I was set on having some Chicken Red Curry, well Scott and I were the only one's feeling Thai and Indonesian food. We set out in the busy night city to find the restaurant...we were unsuccessful, the restaurant had been closed. Anyways we stumbled on a great Thai hole in the wall place and it was perfect. After dinner we met up with the rest of the group and ask the birthday boy, Andrew, what he wanted to do for his big 21st. We ended up at a Techno Club...Lets just say it was one of the craziest night clubs I had ever been to. But we all had a blast! We paid 15 Euros for all you can drink and dance...I believe it was a good deal. The 6 of us all had a great time. The following day we checked out of the hostel at 10 am in the morning and prepared for the day. Had a morning and a Berliner (doughnut) and decided to shop for most of the morning and then head to The Dom to climb the south tower (509 stairs). Cologne is a huge shopping city with giant walking streets with shops lining either side. I was in aww of how many people were out shopping. It reminded me of NYC at rush hour. We ate at an Italian Mexican restaurant near The Dom and it was the worst meal I have had in Europe and was pricey. We made it to The Dom and I stood in amazement of the size and architecture of this epic land mark. The stained class in The Dom was full of color. Now it was time to climb the stairs to the south tower and we were stopped because it was closed for the day!!! We were all sad but it leaves something for me to come back to if I ever make the journey to Cologne. The trip was a great experience and I was happy that is what only Friday and Saturday which gave me Sunday to relax.

Aachen Germany...Home to the Hot Springs!

My adventure to Germany first started as the idea of heading to Berlin, Germany. Once I researched my options of getting to Berlin I decided that it was difficult and a long journey, not to mention outrageously expensive! So I started researching places to go that were close to the border of Germany next to the Netherlands and stumbled on Aachen. That is when I started to read about the natural hot springs.

Early on Friday the 13th, I left the Leiden Central Station with a one way ticket to Aachen. I traveled with 5 other friends that I know from school. When we arrived in Aachen we navigated to the tourist information center to get maps as well as information on these mysterious hot springs. Truth be told they existed and that it was not a far walk. We were all starving so we found a local, cheap bistro where I sampled the authentic Curry worst, exactly what it sounds like. It was excellent! I also had a side of frietes (fries) and a Fanta. After our quick and filling meal we set off for the hot springs along the way Bruce stumbled on a skate shop where he found some Nike shoes that were a must have. We were navigating our way to the Hot Springs through the city of Aachen stopping to site see and take photos. We were able to see the resting place of Charlemagne’s remains. While walking through the city we found a park that was a short cut leading us to the hot springs. The park was beautiful! Green grass, huge trees, dogs playing, a play ground and it was on a hill so I saw some amazing views of the city. Then...there it was the HOT SPRINGS!!! Everyone started to celebrate and get really anxious.

The hot springs are set up like a resort but not with the outrageous prices. The Carolus Thermen is set up to where you register at the entrance and they give you a bracelet that is the key to your lockers as well as it acts as a time clock and will record an extra amenities you use through out the baths. The hot springs are both outdoor as well as indoor. But I would have to say the best part of the whole experience was swimming in the outdoor section and it began to snow. So I was thinking to myself who gets to sit and relax in hot springs while it is snowing in EUROPE!!! The host springs also had back messaging jets, saunas, and hot tubs. All around it was exactly what I needed. We spent 3.5 hours just relaxing and that cost 15 Euros each. After the hot springs we showered and got ready to make the next leg of the trip. (coming soon)