Aachener Printen is a local baked speciality: a sortof cross between gingerbread and a biscuit. This had its origins in the feast-day breads introduced by the Belgians in the 17th century but following Napoleon's embargo of imported honey the Aachen bakers developed their own recipe and technique using sugar from beets.
This resulted in a coarser dough which then had to be pressed before baking and so the Printen was born.
Pinten comes in many shapes, sizes and degrees of elaboration and can be finished with toasted nuts (usually almonds), chocolate or simply glazed with sugar.
One of Aachen's best-known Printen bakeries is the small chain Nobis whose main shop is on Münsterplatz, next door to the Cathedral.
As well as the colourful Printen shop this Nobis is also a buzzy cafe offering all sorts of home-baked goodies and excellent coffee.
Just a note of warning when shopping for Printen. Unless pre-packaged it is sold by weight and the price displayed is per 100g.
All sorts of bath products, such as bubble bars, bath bombs, soap, lotions, lip balm, body scrubs, etc. These products make wonderful gifts!
What to buy: If you buy nothing else, buy a bubble bar! They are pricey, but break them in half, they are still fabulous! These are the most wonderful things I have ever used in my bathtub. They smell nice and leave my skin feeling great.
What to pay: I paid around €4-5+- per bubble bar and the bath bombs were about the same. They also have some nice pre-packaged gift sets at different price points.
Our hotel was right off this street which seems to me to be the main shopping one. We shopped at Zara and Galeria Kaufhof, but they have a wide variety of other stores. And by comparison to the shopping area in Cologne which we were yet to encounter, this one is so much calmer!
Vom Fass is speciality store which sells flavored liquors, wines and oils from casks. The variety is amazing and you can sample the products before you buy them. Bryan had been to one while in Switzerland and was really excited to see one in Aachen. We sampled the Fig and Sour Cherry flavors and he got a large bottle of each. I love the Sour Cherry and bought a little bottle of it for myself. They do a great job at sealing these for you which makes you less nervous about packing them in your carry on!
And... I must mention that the clerks at the store were SO nice that it made shopping there truly a pleasure!
You see these stores all around Germany and I know they're a basic department store that everything. I peeked at the Women's department but didn't see anything I cared to explore further so we just hit the food gallery for some provisions like water and snacks for our train ride to Hannover.
This is a large store that has pretty much everything you might need (or just want!) for your infant or toddler.
What to buy: Clothes, furniture, carseats, all sorts of baby and toddler needs. I liked the buggy boards (google it on google images or froogle) I have never seen them here in the US. They are basically a little platform for older children to stand on that attaches to the back of a stroller.
What to pay: Prices are anywhere from average to high.
This struck me as being pretty much like a Super Wal-Mart here in the states.
What to buy: Call me strange, but I'm fascinated by grocery stores in foreign countries. I don't go on vacation to eat, but eat I must, and seeing all the different products available is really interesting.
I was able to pick up a lot of chocolate for family members as well as some frites sauce and curry ketchup which isn't all that easy to find here. I didn't check out the rest of the store, except for the infants dept as I was over visiting my daughter who just had her first child.
I was also able to buy some cheese that's hard to find here in the US, called Prima Donna. I bought that at the deli counter. If you like cheese, give it a try.
Aachen is a great shopping town as there are lots of pedestrian streets both in the old and in the new town and they are all full of fun and/or stylish shops. Then there is the December Christmas market with its traditional things.
Gluehwein is the traditional warm alcoholic beverage drunk at Christmas markets all over Germany on chilly winter days. Similar to mulled wine, there are stalls selling it by the glass thoughout the market for a couple of Euro and some stalls selling bottles to be taken home.
It was a real treat just to wander around and experience the atmosphere here - it really feels Christmassy, despite the lack of snow! With twinkling lights, amazing aromas from all the lovely food and traditional German Christmas music they really know how to entice the shoppers! Stall holders were friendly and chatty and helpful and really benefitted from the huge amount of coach parties from England and other parts of Germany!
What to buy: The Christmas Market is full of stalls selling all kinds of Christmas things - wooden toys, handmade decorations, soap, perfume, woolen accessories, food, chocolate, Printen, Gluehwein, cards, ornaments, etc etc etc.
What to pay: Various
Every shop in Aachen was beautifully decorated for Christmas ... they really know how to do this with style in Germany.
What to buy: Christmas decorations are of course everywhere at this time of year! You can buy beautiful handmade or mass produced decorations quite cheaply. There are just tooo many to choose from!
What to pay: I bought 10 little red and white handmade felt stars for 1E each!
The Market is probably the best place to buy Printen in the Christmas season.
What to buy: Aachen is famous for its speciality "Printen" - a traditional gingerbread biscuit which comes in all shapes and sizes and with or without a chocolate coating.
What to pay: Various prices depending on the size and quantity of the biscuits you buy!
Another department-type store in the centre of Aachen - filled with more busy Christmas shoppers. The website lists all the major shops in Aachen and what they sell. Nanu-Nana isn't on the list, but it sells just about everything!
What to buy: I bought an umbrella.
What to pay: 9E-20E for an umbrella.
The centre of Aachen is just choc-a-block with fabulous stores selling everything you could possibly live without ;-) There are large chain stores as well as many smaller independent boutiques and food shops. One day here just isn't enough! Due to the weather, there was a big rush on hats, gloves, scarves and umbrellas on the day we were here.
What to buy: Muellers is a large store currently selling all things Christmassy, as well as stationery and toys and accessories at very reasonable prices. It was fully of busy shoppers - locals and tourists
What to pay: Depends on what you buy!. I bought gloves and a scarf for just under 16E.
The Mayersche is the most famous, oldest and biggest library in Aachen with a perfect offer of books, etc. The store was rebuild in the 21th century with a very modern architecture based on steel and glass. On the 3rd floor is a great terrace to sit down and relax.
What to buy: Aachen city guide, of course ;-)
What to pay: about average