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Old June 17th, 2012, 09:07 PM   #361
Tchek
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I agree that it looks ugly
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Old June 17th, 2012, 09:24 PM   #362
600West218
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By mid day it was time to head to Aachen. I wanted to be there in time to explore the city a bit before heading to my hosts home by 6 pm.

I went to Midi station and bought a ticket on a high speed train to Aachen.

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The usual jumble of cables :-)

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Shoot, I can’t be sure but I THINK this is Liege. Liege looked interesting - LOTS of the terrace homes I love, but I just passed through with no chance to explore.

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This is the train station in Liege. As I didn’t get out of the train I couldn’t see it in its entirety or take good pictures but you can guess the architect just by looking at it.

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Of course, this is also the same person designing the Transportation Hub at the new World Trade Center site. But New York has been so slow in building now even Liege has a nicer train station than we do. Very annoying.

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Much to my disappointment I never knew exactly when I passed onto German soil. There are no clearly marked signs that indicate where the border is, at least that I could see from the train.

But here we go:

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After stowing my bag in a locker it was off to explore the city, or more precisely, to head to the center of town and see the cathederal.

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The city seemed fairly modern and very tidy. I think the new part comes from being destroyed in WW 2 and then rebuilt.

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This is an old entrance to the city. I didn’t get the full story but apparently Aachen was at one time a walled city. Only a couple of gates like these remain.

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Looks like some sort of political advertisement, but I have no idea what kind.

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The city seemed largely deserted with most all stores closed. I later found out it was some sort of holiday.

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Finally I catch sight of what I am looking for.

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It isn’t quite as large and impressive as some other cathederals but it is quite old and has been at the center of a lot of history and contains some items of great religious significance.

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The aged exterior is stunning

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Finally I came across some crowds which were at a pro-Europe festival. There were actually booths with exhibits extolling the virtues of the European Union and the Euro. A bit ironic given the times.

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This I believe was part of the town hall which was also quite nice.

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Looks like some sort of plaque to those who opposed fascism.

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“Europa ist hier” - I wonder what people thought of that?

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Lots of outdoor cafes around. I was later told that outdoor cafes were new to Germany in the past 15 years or so.

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The town hall again. If I recall correctly this was destroyed in WW 2 and then rebuilt. If true, they did an awesome job.

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The nice plaza immediately in front of the town hall.

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I then had to wander back to the train station to pick up my luggage and go to my hosts home. Unfortunately, I really misjudged what direction to go in a got quite lost. It took a lot of asking directions to find my way.

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Decent color scheme.

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Not exactly sure what this is - some TV truck?

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At the train station I grabbed a cab. They were all - what else - Mercedes Benzs :-)

After settling in with my hosts and having dinner they took me out for a ride.

The first place they took me, given my interests, was the local medical center.

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Looks rather like a famous building in Paris doesn’t it?

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That is a recently built helipad. I was told that helipads were mandated by the German government for all major hospitals. They couldn’t build it on the roof, for obvious reasons, so they built this. I nice solution. The angled covered escalator goes right down to the emergency room.

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A close up of the helipad.

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Right inside the lobby. It is definitely different than most hospitals I have seen elsewhere and it could be said it is a bit 70s. It lacks the large open atriums that is the new style for hospitals in the US and from what I saw in the UK as well. But it did seem to work, at least for me.

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Note the exposed piping style is continued inside as well.

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I saw poster like this around the hospital. Apparently by German law workers at any workplace are allowed to form councils that represent them on management committees and have a say in all workplace decisions. Sounds like a very good idea to me, but sadly something far too progressive for the United States. Fox news would deride this as qausi communism.

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A typical floor in the hospital. We walked right into patient words and could have walked into any patient room but of course we didn’t out of respect for patient privacy. It should be noted that once you get around patient rooms all the sounds, smells, sights, etc. are just like any hospital I’ve ever been around. You can dress it up however you want, but at the end of the day a hospital is a hospital.

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Back in the lobby.

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Finally, it should be noticed there was no visible security in this hospital. No one ever asked us who we were or why we were there. It was essentially a public building and the public has free access. This was just like the hospitals I saw in England and of course the opposite of what you find in the United States. What a difference universal health care systems make.

Next I was taken over the border into the Netherlands. I had realized that Aachen was of course very close to Belgium, but it is also right on the border with the Netherlands. The three countries meet right here.

Up on a small hill in a park, which due to it being night I couldn’t see very well, there is the exact point where all the countries meet.

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Note the lines on the ground. Those mark the actual border. I can’t recall which is which (anyone who does know please help us out here) but I think the longer straight one that demarks a semi circle is Germany, the medium size wedge is Belgium and the smallest wedge is the Netherlands.

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Half in one, half in another, and leaning into a third country, all with no passport.

I was again taken into the Netherlands where I was allowed to have a proper, signed, entry into Germany.

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Not sure what the stars represent. Maybe German states?

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Essentially this is federal road number 1 in Germany. My hosts gave me a bit more background than I can recall. I think Hitler wanted to reorder the German road system and made this road #1 which completely crosses Germany from West to East more or less in the middle of the country.

And with that my first half day in Germany was done.
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Old June 17th, 2012, 09:44 PM   #363
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The stars are the stars of the European flag. All signs on European borders look like that.
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Old June 17th, 2012, 09:56 PM   #364
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wapper View Post
The stars are the stars of the European flag. All signs on European borders look like that.
Didn't know that - thanks!
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Old June 17th, 2012, 10:13 PM   #365
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'Notarzt' is an emergency doctor. 112 is an emergency telephone number which works across the EU, the only one in many member states. The political advert is for a right wing party in (it appears) the Nordrhein-Westfalen state elections. Something about traffic congestion.

A very strange looking hospital as well, interesting but not sure what to make of it. A friend and I are considering a day trip to Aachen when we visit the Duesseldorf area in three weeks. Certainly looks nice. I've never heard of outdoor cafes being a recent development in Germany though, I wonder if anyone can shed more light on it?
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Old June 17th, 2012, 10:46 PM   #366
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That political party, the FDP, is just the German liberal party (liberal not in American sense). At this moment they are even part of the federal government, but they have lost all support during the last years
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Old June 18th, 2012, 01:34 AM   #367
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 600West218 View Post

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Shoot, I can’t be sure but I THINK this is Liege. Liege looked interesting - LOTS of the terrace homes I love, but I just passed through with no chance to explore.
Of course it is Liège. I used to live a street away from that picture for years. It's not so close to the core center of the city, but not far away neither.
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Old June 18th, 2012, 01:44 AM   #368
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 600West218 View Post
Lots of outdoor cafes around. I was later told that outdoor cafes were new to Germany in the past 15 years or so.
That's not true at all. Who told you that?
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Old June 18th, 2012, 01:47 AM   #369
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Maybe it was like that in protestant regions?
But that shouldn't apply to Aachen then.
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Old June 18th, 2012, 02:08 AM   #370
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Nope, that's just nonsense. Here Berlin (as protestant as it gets) in the 20ies:

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Old June 18th, 2012, 02:28 AM   #371
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Quote:
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That's not true at all. Who told you that?
I was told by one of my hosts. I can't vouch for the information and I can't be sure if she meant that there would have been no cafes, or just far fewer. Basically, while walking through one area with lots of cafes volunteered that they wouldn't have been there 15 or so years ago (this is a life long Aachen resident in her late 40s) and that people in Aachen were trying to imitate the Mediteranean culture they see when they go on vacation. Again, I am must repeating what I heard - I can't say either way.

Thanks for sharing the Berlin picture. Maybe part of the issue is larger cities have always had cafes whereas smaller ones didn't have it.

Certainly in the US large cities may have a cafe culture but most cities, even most pretty large cities, don't.

BTW, is Aachen considered northern Germany or southern Germany? I got the sense that it considers itself to be northern Germany.
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Old June 18th, 2012, 12:32 PM   #372
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Quote:
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That looks like a medieval toilet to the left of the door.
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Old June 18th, 2012, 01:30 PM   #373
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Aachen is definitely West-German

The café culture is not necessarily meditteranean. Just over the border in Belgium, in France (and I think also in Holland) it is nothing new.
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Old June 18th, 2012, 01:36 PM   #374
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WOW that hospital is probably one of the most ugliest buildings I have ever seen.

btw:

That "Telenotarzt" vehicle is afaik a new project by the RWTH Aachen university, where they connect all the information in a new "cloud".
F.e. an ambulance has been called for an heart attack emergency, as soon as they put an electrocardiogram on the patient, all the involved persons (doctor, hospital etc.) get the information on their smartphone.


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Old June 18th, 2012, 02:30 PM   #375
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 600West218 View Post
I was told by one of my hosts. I can't vouch for the information and I can't be sure if she meant that there would have been no cafes, or just far fewer. Basically, while walking through one area with lots of cafes volunteered that they wouldn't have been there 15 or so years ago (this is a life long Aachen resident in her late 40s) and that people in Aachen were trying to imitate the Mediteranean culture they see when they go on vacation. Again, I am must repeating what I heard - I can't say either way.

Thanks for sharing the Berlin picture. Maybe part of the issue is larger cities have always had cafes whereas smaller ones didn't have it.

Certainly in the US large cities may have a cafe culture but most cities, even most pretty large cities, don't.

BTW, is Aachen considered northern Germany or southern Germany? I got the sense that it considers itself to be northern Germany.
Austria-Hungary and Germany are the birthplace of the kind of café culture that American franchises like Starbucks etc. are imitating.
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Old June 18th, 2012, 03:45 PM   #376
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I actually had a conversation about that "outdoor-cafe"-thing with my dad yesterday. He sad in the early days (1970-1980) there were only a handful coffee bars in Aachen, far less than today. It`s kind of strange. Even the famous "Pontstraße" with its snack bars from all countries and clubs nowadays was easily accessible for cars these times.
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Old June 18th, 2012, 03:52 PM   #377
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Nope, that's just nonsense. Here Berlin (as protestant as it gets) in the 20ies:

I'm not a specialist, but I think that Berlin of the 20s was very different from the Berlin in Prussian times. Stefan Zweig makes a nice comparison between Berlin and Vienna in the early 20th century in his book Die Welt von Gestern. I don't think that Berlin in the 20s is a good example of a traditional protestant town.
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Old June 18th, 2012, 04:24 PM   #378
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Quote:
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I actually had a conversation about that "outdoor-cafe"-thing with my dad yesterday. He sad in the early days (1970-1980) there were only a handful coffee bars in Aachen, far less than today. It`s kind of strange. Even the famous "Pontstraße" with its snack bars from all countries and clubs nowadays was easily accessible for cars these times.
Ok, so it sounds like it might just be Aachen and the smaller cities that had few cafes and the larger cities had more. And there were always some, just fewer.
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Old June 18th, 2012, 04:25 PM   #379
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[QUOTE=MattN;92461888]'Notarzt' is an emergency doctor. 112 is an emergency telephone number which works across the EU, the only one in many member states. QUOTE]

Good thing I didn't have any emergencies. I would
have been dialing 911
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Old June 18th, 2012, 04:48 PM   #380
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Crikey, glad to be of assistance! 999 is generally used in the UK and it's the number which everyone knows and is promoted, but 112 works here as well.
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