Total Pageviews

Jan 23, 2007

In Aachen, Germany!

One of the many types of beers on offer in Germany

Eventually the Gods smiled upon me, and I managed to pry out a company-sponsored trip to Germany (the real reason's M-PBN training). The training is happening in the company's training offices in Aachen, Germany. This little town is situated around 15 mins from the border to Netherlands in the old West Germany, further west of Bonn and Koln (Cologne).

The weather has been a tad different that the warm, sunny 20 degrees of Johannesburg, with the average temperature around the 2 degree mark. The locals describe the weather during the last few days a little chillier than usual with snow expected anytime soon.

Dusseldorf Flughawen bahnhof

We landed in Dusseldorf on Sunday afternoon with no idea how to get to Aachen around 2 hours away. The signs weren't really helpful, and colleagues had warned us against the attitude of Germans against foreigners. Our first experience wasn't that that great with the irritable Hofbahn information operator directing us to a German ticket machine with no option to change languages. I remember being quite angry but after reflection, I'm now thankful he made it difficult for us, 'cause its how we learnt how life works around here...

I now enjoy 'conversing' with the Germans. My mixture of Afrikaans with the few German words I've learnt seem to do the trick. We all have a big laugh after our conversation wondering how on earth we managed to get our points through. The people seem to warm up to tourists attempting to join them in their daily lives.

A massive gate in Aachen - remains of a fort around the city

A funny moment happened earlier this evening when we stopped for supper at the many 'Doner Kebaps' (hugely popular Persian/Turkish eat-outs that serve varieties of schwarmas and wursts) - I was trying to explain to the waiter that I was looking a typical German dish (he was light-skinned and had a typically Persian look). First attempts at Afrikaans and English failed to put the point through, so I resorted to sign language. All this while he and I were exchanging laughs at our attempts at understanding each other. Eventually he said something in German and I managed to pick out the words 'Indian' and 'sprekend'. I assumed he wanted to know if I speak any Indian languages so I started with Malayalam and moved on to Hindi (...nothing was working so what the hell!) A bit of broken Hindi seemed to do the trick as I discovered he was Pakistani. After attempting all the languages I knew, it seemed the least obvious one did the trick. He recommended a really delicious dish and gave us complimentary Turkish sweets (really delicious, may I add)...

A side of a cathedral in Aachen - don't let this poor pic fool u, this building was huge!

I'm really enjoying this country and town. There's a lot of history in this place, and the culture and people just add to the charm. Many really massive cathedrals, gates and renovated palaces. The weather is unfortunate but there are too many positives to even think of that. The machine that is the public transport system is truely inspiring.

Hoping to do Amsterdam this weekened. More on Germany later (hopefully better quality pics too)...

No comments: