Vaals, Aachen, Bochum and Wegberg

After coming back from Eifel, I had a day to catch up on some studying (in a nice cafe in the sun) and do some touristy things. I stood on the point where all three countries - Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands - meet, and climbed up the tall tower (a long way up, with steps you can see right through to the ground far far below) and looks at three different countries from three different angles. Very cool. I also saw Alfonsina, a horse who used to live at BLA and who I knew just after she was born. She's looking great! Still so sweet :)

Today it's off to Bochum. First to Aachen, where we walked around. It's a very nice town. We went in a church full of gold - Charlemagne's church apparently, and he loved gold. It was full of loud people - the loudest church I've been in in Europe - and very beautiful. Then saw a statue of a beast, I forget what it was called, which has a story behind it: there are many hot springs under the city, and in former times the steam would rise out of the man hole covers and gutters. Drunken men who stumbled out of bars would see this steam and believe, in their poor states, that from the steam would arise the beasts, perhaps imagining they were coming out of hell - I didn't quite understand if this was the impression they had - so a fountain statue of this beast was made over the hot springs. 

The beast

The beast

Charlemagne's church

Church in Vaals

The top of the tower overlooking all three countries. 

We also had a coffee at a very old cafe and a very good lunch at a beautiful outdoor resteraunt. 

This used to be a basket makers street.

Now I'm in Bochum, staying with Alina. She is studying here at Ruhr Universitat Bochum (RUB) and we cycled around it a bit in the afternoon. It's pretty nice!

In the morning, we rOde Alinas motorcycle (her first time driving someone else!) the short easy route to see her horse Luna, also raised at BLA. What a sweety. We did a little short ride, very nice and easy on some forest trail, then motorcycled back, had lunch at the university dining hall, and went to one of her politics classes. Seemed interesting, though I understood nothing...all in all a great day! We ended playing a German card game with her flatmates. 

Second day, we went to the planetarium to learn about space, but I, of course, understood nothing of the German voice over and Alina fell asleep for a bit. So. Very educational. Then we walked around Bochum, saw the parliament building (very cool) and got waffles. Yum! Very fun. 

The last day, we chilled a bit before taking the train to Dormagen for the ride! See that story in "events".

We stayed at ride camp Saturday night, then packed everything up, loaded the horses, and left on Sunday mid-morning. We then unloaded a bit and fed the horses Sunday afternoon, and then relaxed the rest of the day back at Imke's house. 

Monday Imke and I went to Aachen, a nearby town in Germany. They just built a big new mall, so we walked around that, got some frozen yogurt, and then explored the old town a bit. I think the parliament building there is the coolest ever, maybe with Bochum's coming second. At least, out of all the parliament buildings I've seen, which admittedly isn't a huge amount! We had lunch, then checked the horses again (all fine). At night, we had a fire and bbq outside with some of Imke's friends who crewed for us. Imke has a very cool garden, and it was a fun night. I tried some interesting German liqueur made from eggs, which is very thick and yellow and tastes a bit like a Chinese egg tart in drink form, with a kick. Not really my thing, but interesting nonetheless.

Tuesday we checked the horses in the morning, then had a big breakfast in Aachen before I said goodbyes to Imke (☹) and met my cousins in Wegberg. They're very nice, and have two girls who are 10 and 13. We played with their guinea pig and rabbit and jumped on their trampoline, then took a tiny bike tour of Wegberg, which is very small. It has a "burg", or a mini castle, which is the pride of Wegberg apparently, but really looks more like a cool old hotel or something. The cousins are so friendly and inviting, and they took me waterskiing the second day. I had never been before, and it was great fun! It was on this strange thing kind of like a ski lift but in the water, in the sense that each person grabs onto a rope, jumps off the dock, and is tugged along through the water in a circle.