During the festive season, we always make it a point to visit Germany somehow! Last year was no exception. This time it was through Aachen, where we stayed at Novotel Aachen. Aachen isnt as big as other German cities and proved to be the perfect stopover before heading to Luxembourg. Since we were there for 2 days, we thought we'll hop into another country as well (Netherlands) by doing a day trip to Maastricht.
We checked out 2 main attractions within Aachen (excluding the Christmas market). The first one was the Aachen Cathedral. This church dates back to 800 AD and had the most beautiful interior ever. I have to admit, we got kinda bored seeing Gothic churches everywhere, so this was welcome change. What a ceiling!
Another important building that we visited was the Aachen City Hall. It looked like any normal European style building on the outside, however, the interior was pretty impressive.
Obviously our main intention of stepping into Germany (for the 3rd time!) was to see the Christmas market. It wasn't as big as some of the markets in other German cities, however, it wasn't too bad. The market was all around the Cathedral and City Hall area.
Early next morning, we took a bus (just outside our hotel) to Maastricht. To be honest, we couldn't believe Netherlands was just 1 hour away from our hotel! We were excited be stepping into another country ... atleast for a few hours.
Maastricht is very doable in a day. Once we arrived, we walked a bit to the tourist office and purchased a map for a self-guided walking tour. The tourist office building itself happens to be a tourist attraction! It is a Gothic building which dates back to the 15th century.
We got a chance to visit one of the oldest churches in Netherlands - Basilica of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwebasiliek), which dates back to almost 1000 AD and looked like a castle!
The other church that we visited was a Romanesque one called the Basilica of Saint Servatius.
Although it was quite cold in Maastricht, we managed to walk around the old city walls until we reached Helpoort. It was a very scenic walk till these medieval gates. These gates are said to have been built in the 12th century and are the oldest in Netherlands.
At some point while walking around, we got to smell of fresh bread which led our to our next attraction. By the way, this wasn't a part of the walking tour. It was a bakery that still uses an ancient water mill in its food preparation.
Maastricht in full of cute streets, however, the highlight of our time here was the bookstore. This bookstore used to be a 13th century Dominican church that has now been converted into a modern bookstore. I'm a bit ashamed to admit this, both of us do not read! However, we had coffee and cake in the bookstore's lovely cafe and took a lot of pictures!
We concluded our trip with a visit to Maastricht's gorgeous Christmas market!
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