Posted on 2008/01/26 17:36:50 (January 2008).
[Sunday 20th January]
We checked out of our hotel in Brussels in the morning and headed for the station. We actually went to the central station to begin with, but it turned out the train to Aachen would actually go from Gare du Midi (which is apparently the South station - the same place the Eurostar trains go from). Anywho, it was only a short connection which was no great problem.
We got on the train from Brussels to Aachen around midday. It was a really nice train - very nice interior, very comfortable and also very quiet. It was a very pleasant run of about an hour and a half from Belgium just over the border into Germany. I had wondered if we might need to show our passports or something at some point, but despite the fact this was technically an "international" service, it didn't feel any different than going between two cities in the same country. Although the announcements were hard work - delivered in French, Flemish, German and English.
We got to Aachen around 2, and set off from the station in the vague direction of our hotel, by way of the city centre. Like Brussels, it turned out to be surprisingly nice - it has a fairly small town sort of feel to it, but has lots of grand buildings in the centre. We went for a bit of a wander around the town hall there, which was rather impressive.
We then went and checked into our hotel, and then from there went for a short walk to check on the nearby Carolus Thermen spa complex. Given that it was a bit of a dreary Sunday afternoon the place was rather packed out, and so we decided to come back tomorrow.
The hotel was really rather grand, and although it was about twice the price of the place we'd stayed in the previous night it still seemed like really good value for money. We had a huge room, very nicely decorated, and superbly clean.
There was another spa as part of the hotel, and so on our unsuccessful return from the other place we decided we should try it out. Given that the area is famous for its hot springs (the reason we were here) I had anticipated the hotel's spa would have at least one pool where we could bathe in warm water. In practice though they just seemed to have a swimming pool at standard temperature, and some sauna rooms - which seemed a bit of a waste to me. Still, I suppose it was quite nicely done, and had I not been developing a cold I might have appreciated it a bit more.
After getting back from the spa, we decided we should try out the hotel bar. We started off with a glass of champagne (on the house - and it was my favourite - Veuve Clicquot), and then moved on to Bloody Marys (Maries?) before finishing up with their special of the day - a kind of fruit punch. All very nice.
My cold had got worse by this point, so we spent the remainder of the evening confined to our room, with me getting through reams of tissues trying to clear my nose out. Still, I guess if I had to be ill, it was a very nice room to be ill in.
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