Saturday, October 14, 2006

Winter Sets In In Aachen

Well, sort of. The weather seems to be maintaining a strange but pleasant ratio of darkness and rain on weekdays, sun and breezes at weekends. I can live with that.

Last weekend, for example, I went for two lovely walks, both ending up in the same place (Stolberg) but starting from two different points. The first started from my front door and went through my local nature area, the Brander Wald (Brand Wood). This nature area doubles as a military training area, which is somewhat weird, as every now and then you come across a rusty old tank. Even weirder is the fact that you're allowed to walk across it at all. In England such places are invariably fenced off and out of bounds to the general public. In Germany, however, they are available to (and freely used by) the public. The necessary health warning is provided by the signs around the perimeter that state, in more words than this: "You can use this area freely until nightfall. We accept no responsibility if you get shot."

Nice walk, though, as was the next day's walk. This one was another section of the old Vennbahn railway track to follow, and it was really peaceful and beautiful. The paths and tracks paralleling the railway were hardly thoroughfares, and followed the course of a very rural little valley. It was great fun, until the end , when I ended up in a quarry.

Quarries, whether British or continental, appear to have mastered the art of protesting rights of way. They don't actively waste any energy doing anything as silly as complaining about the age-old path running through the middle of their operation. Instead they simply make it as unpleasant as is humanly possible for anyone to use said path: mounds of black grit, rusting machinery, lorries rumbling past with wheels twice as tall as you, even (and this was an experience I had in the UK) an overhead conveyor belt crossing the path and carrying rocks which frequently fall off onto the ground below!

I made it out the other side, and arrived in Stolberg. It's another beautiful town in the German mould: deep in a valley, castle on a rise in the centre of the town, with the old town clustered around it. (I always wonder how there come to be so many cool places to put castles in Germany. It's not fair on the rest of the world that there are so many dramatic mounts overlooking dells containing an abundance of natural resources.)

There was a harvest festival going on in Stolberg, which scuppered my plans of simply going somewhere and having a quiet Apfelschorle. Instead I had to settle for a noisy Apfelschorle and a piece of Apfelkuchen, albeit in the castle courtyard, where a quaint harvest market was taking place. All sorts of local produce was on sale, from wine to apple juice to fruit and vegetables to honey to arty-crafty things. It was beautiful - and the place was so busy. This only reinforces my view that the Germans in general are far more community-minded than the British at least.

In the streets below, there were many bands playing on podiums (podia?). Not good bands, but fun bands, playing old folk songs, most of which I couldn't understand because the dialect was too strong. I strolled around admiring the place for a while before getting the train back to Aachen. Train isn't the quickest way, but I really wanted to travel on that stretch of track, as it's all that's left of the old Vennbahn I've been harping on about. There were a few very excitable children on the train, and when the driver arrived they pleaded so eloquently that he let them into the cab with him as he was driving. Again, would never happen in England. All in all, a lovely day out.

Ritter Sport Ratings: HAZELNUT SPECIAL!!!! OMG!!!!!!11111

Hazelnut (milk chocolate): 8/10
This is a pretty 1337 R1tter 5p0rt. There are so many hazelnuts... and they crunch just right. Glorious.

Hazelnut (white chocolate): 6/10
Well, I had to admit it at some point. I'm just not too big a fan of white chocolate. It's a bit sugary, and not as elegant as dark or milk. This one isn't exactly the same as the other two, though, oh no. It also contains some random crunchy things. Why? I don't know. They don't help the cause of this quadrant. It only gets 6/10 because the hazelnuts themselves are great and because chocolate (of any kind) and hazelnuts are a good combination.

Hazelnut (dark chocolate): 8/10
Again, it's kinda the 5h1tz0r. Can't decide which is better, this or the milk chocolate. No, I really can't decide. Go away.

STOP POKING ME!!!! (what do I look like, an Orc?)


Alastair G Mailer said...

Random l33tage? Someone is using their new internet connection too much... ;P

George Walkden said...

13375p34k i5t t3h r0xx0r! FTW! ZOMG!

kekekekeke... pwn4g3.