Long train trip from Zagreb
The train travel from Zagreb to Aachen is quite long, it is a distance of approx. 1300 kilometers. The first stage to Munich I was traveling in a sleeping wagon, which arrives at 6:40 am. At 7:20 I had fast train to Cologne. The stage to Stuttgart was very pleasant but then I met a serious problems. German railways employees were on strike so that the number of trains in circulation was reduced. In Stuttgart a large number of passengers entered in the train who, knowing the present situation with the trains, booked all the seats. In such a situation, the train was overcrowded with passengers and couldn't continue its stage to Cologne. All those, me included, who do not have reserved seats have been asked to leave the train. I did not leave the train and therefore had to stand all the way to Cologne. That distance of over 300 kilometers lasted indefinitely and was very bitter. It was definitely my most painful episode ever in traveling with public transport.
In Cologne I boarded in a regional train to Aachen in which I arrived a little after 1 pm.
TAXI SERVICE IN AACHEN
Hans and I used the TAXI SERVICE IN AACHEN six times during the weekend we were there for the recent Virtual Tourist Meet. Though not that far for me to walk from our Hotel IBIS to the Marktplatz, Hans has a hard time walking that distance, so Friday night we ordered a Taxi, which the Hotel did for us. We shared with two other VT members. The total usually came to around 7 Euros. After dinner, we just walked to the Taxi Stand right in the Marktplatz and took a taxi back to the IBIS.
Sunday night, our dinner was at the Vielharmonie on Pontstrasse. It was a little farther, so a little bit more for the taxi fare - 8 Euros, which again we split among us. After dinner, we went left from the restaurant and at the end of the street was another Taxi Stand, with many taxis waiting.
One of the Taxi companies we used was ALFA TAXI --- 122222. The driver was courteous, his cab clean.
I used a taxi at least twice a day, from the hotel to some location in the city and then, after finishing exploring, to return back in the hotel. Some taxis, on the body, have a large printed numbers to call, 22222 or 66666, but I did not call, it used to do kind receptionist from my hotel. I noticed several taxi stops in the city center, the biggest one opposite to the theater and the one from where I usually went back to the hotel which is at the Rathausplatz (Marktplatz or the City Hall square).At the Rathausplatz the traffic is not allowed, except for the taxi and there you will always find available vehicle.
The cab interior is very clean and tidy and the drivers are courteous and helpful. As soon as you sit in the vehicle the taxi driver will include taximeter and for ride will charge the amount indicated on the display. No need to say that you will get a receipt for the ride.
Tours that I've done with a taxi roughly correspond to 10-15 minutes walking, what is the time distance from the hotel Ibis to the city center and vice versa, and I paid such ride between 5 and 7 euros.
In between the sightseeing I was sitting on a bench in front of the theater and the next day in front of the railway station, because my sick spin no longer tolerate long walks so I must rest quite often. I wistfully recalled the times of just a few years ago when I could walk over 20 kilometers, in the same day, and never felt tired. Sitting so I curiously observed people and vehicles passing by. At one time I registered a high frequency of city buses that engendered from all directions and almost every twenty seconds.
I personally did not ride in the local bus but it is good to know, for the future visitors, that the city bus transportation in Aachen is very well organized and that passengers almost do not wait for arrival of the buses.
Biking to Aachen
Judging by the many cyclists who arrive in Aachen equipped for a long ride and stay in the countryside it seems that at the approach to the city there must be the whole network of cycle paths from different direction. Aachen is situated on the borders between Germany, Netherlands and Belgium, countries well known for a large number of amateurs who on weekends saddle up their bikes and enjoy in long rides. It must be a great pleasure, slow drive in the countryside, lunch on the grass and rest in the shade of dense tree foliage.
A pleasant way to arrive
I arrived in Aachen for the excellent Euromeet 2015 by train from Brussels / Bruxelles which eventually terminated in Frankfurt. I had arrived in the Hauptbahnhof which is the main station of the four that currently service the city. It is not exactly huge but was clean and tidy and had a couple of retail / cafe options available. On my return I had no difficulty in purchasing my ticket to Namur or making sense of the excellent electronic information displays although I speak barely a word of German.
Having walked out of the station I took a look back to see a pleasant building which dates to 1905 although it did suffer serious damage in the Allied advance on Germany during the latter part of World War 2. There is not sign of that damage now as it was patched up after the war and underwent another major refurbishment in the first decade of the new Millenium. Not that I am any architect but my trusty internet informs me that it is in the Art Nouveau style and the real architect was one Friedrich Mettegang so nice work, mein Herr.
The station is a stopping point for international trains running between Paris Nord and / or Bruxelles and terminating at Frankfurt or Cologne although there are also many regional German trains which stop here.
All in all a very pleasant introduction to a very pleasant city.
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
Here's an example of how the City of Aachen has made a tenfold improvement in the use of public space at very little cost.
They have taken what used to be a parking space for one car and made it into a parking facility for ten bicycles, by installing five frames that bikes can be locked to.
Additional photos: More people on bicycles in Aachen, 2015.
Signs for pedestrians
The city of Aachen has set up ample orientation signs not only for motorists and cyclists, but also for pedestrians, as in this photo which I took near the main railroad station.
The strange-looking metal structure on the right was a weather tower which was supposed to light up in different colors depending on the weather forecast.
Second photo: Walking their bikes in Aachen, 2015.
Aachen Hautbahnhof (main railway station) is about 15 minutes' walk to the south-east of the city's historical centre.
Like all German railway stations (in my experience) it is well-signed, with a big electronic departure board in the entrance foyer as well as good electronic platform signage. It's really hard to go wrong if you read the signs......and you don't need German to do so.
The entrance has a couple of coffee & snack places, one of which (Hoberg) offers a wide variety of rolls, pastries, cakes and sandwiches and has very decent coffee indeed. It's clearly a popular place to grab a take-away, even if you're not a rail traveller (as the photo shows).
There's a ticket office as well as ticket machines. Ticket office staff speak at least good-enough English. Note that even if there are no queues you still need to take a ticket with your queue number (see photo). The lady behind the counter was most insistent that I did so, even though I was the only person in the ticket office at the time apart from 3 staff sitting behind their windows. :-)
Be warned that using the (very clean) toilets will cost you 1 euro. You'll get a 50 eurocents voucher back, which you can spend at station shops/cafes...but only if you spend more than 2.50 euro.
There are lifts up to the platforms as well as steps so access is pretty simple.
There are taxis waiting to the right of the station entrance as you leave the building.
May 14 to May25, 2015
We haven't rented a car in years, but for this trip we really needed to, as we were going all over the place - in the Netherlands and to Aachen, Germany for the VT Meet
Hans did a lot of research before we decided on DOLLAR SCHIPHOL.
When we arrived at Schiphol, we had to wait for the "Dollar" Shuttle Bus to take us to an off-site office in Hooffdorp which took about 15 minutes.
They gave us a beautiful Renault Captur which was an automatic and had GPS ( no charge). Most companies charge daily for a GPS so that was a bonus.
We told them we were going to Germany, so they charged us an extra 50 Euros for the privilege - rip off! The total price for rental was 260 Euros and we had it for about 11 days. We put about 1500 kilometres on it and we brought it back in perfect condition - PHEW!
By the way, having the GPS was awesome. I programmed it for each trip and it worked out wonderful. I would never drive in Europe without one. But I still brought my maps and did some mapquests just in case the GPS failed.
Although we drove the car the Aachen, we did not drive it around Aachen. We just left it in the safe and secure parking garage of the IBIS for which we paid 7 Euros per day (21 Euros).
By train to Aachen
I travelled to Aachen from London by train - first on the Eurostar to Brussels and changing there for a through train to Aachen. It was a very pleasant way to make the journey, and without the need for lengthy check-ins (just 30 minutes at St Pancras Station in London), nor to take a train from airport to city centre, it is not really any slower than flying - in fact, if anything it is faster. Boarding the train in London just before 11.00 AM saw me alighting in Aachen a little after 3.30 PM - about three and a half hours allowing for the time difference.
The train from Brussels Midi to Aachen was with Deutsche Bahn, the German rail operator. There had been train drivers’ strikes in Germany in the run up to my trip, and another strike scheduled for that week, although I had been assured that these particular trains were driven by Belgian drivers and would run on time. In any case, the strike was called off and there were no problems or delays. In fact, both legs of the journey were comfortable and uneventful, and although we were a little unsure about having only 15 minutes to change trains at Brussels Midi it proved to be ample time. I would definitely opt for train travel again on any future visit to Aachen.
You can book a through ticket from London to any destination in Europe on the Eurostar website (see below) although it’s worth also checking prices for separate bookings. I got a good deal booking right through on the outward leg of my journey but on the return (when I was travelling from Koblenz via Cologne) I found that booking separately for the Deutsche Bahn and Eurostar segments gave me a better price and allowed me to opt for a longer and more relaxed layover at Brussels Midi.
Train from Aachen to Cologne
Train option from Aachen to Cologne (Koln)
There are the faster ICE and Thalys trains and then the regional trains. I found options to purchase all on b-Europe but it didn't make sense that the local trains were slower but more expensive.
Based on advice received, we will probably just wait to buy our tickets when in Aachen, the regional trains take less than an hour and are usually are more scenic. Departure from Aachen Hbf hourly at :51, travel time 53 minutes. Single ticket is EUR 17,00 (VRS tariff price level 7). A mini group day ticket (TagesTicket 5 Personen) is EUR 41,00. Besides the regional trains these tickets cover furthermore all local public transport in Aachen (buses) and Cologne (S-Bahn, Stadtbahn, trams and buses). You can buy these tickets on spot from the ticket machines.
For www.b-europe.com Aachen to Cologne is an international trip for which a different tariff applies. For this trip the VRS tariff price level 7 applies.
VRS is a local public transport association. Their tariff is binding for all local public transport inside the covered area.
Will update when I take the trip.
A Day Trip To or From Maastricht
Worth doing if you are staying a few days in Maastricht is to have a day out to the former capital city of the Holy Roman Empire, Aachen, where Charlemagne reigned and for 500 years the German Kings were crowned.
The #50 bus runs between the two cities every 15 minutes during the day and half-hourly in the evening with the journey taking about an hour each way. Although the bus from Maastricht, which leaves from the bus station next to the railway station, is signed Aachen HbF (railway station) it in fact loops into the city centre before returning by the route it arrived.
A day ticket, which is valid for buses only, not only allows you to visit Aachen but can also be used to stop-off en route at Vaals (for the mountain!) or/and Gulpen if you fancy a beer at the Gulpener brewery pub. At the time of writing (Dec 2012) this cost seven Euros and can be bought from the bus driver
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
- Beer Tasting
Cycling in Aachen
Although Aachen is not one of Germany's outstanding bicycle cities, they do have 290 kilometers of signposted bicycle routes, and the city has started various projects to encourage people to cycle to work, school or university.
Aachen also has an active chapter of the General German Bicycle Club (ADFC) which lobbies for a better cycling infrastructure.
Since 1983 the ADFC Aachen has been publishing a magazine called Luftpumpe (Air pump), the first cycling publication for Aachen and vicinity. The second issue of 2012 is online here.
Aachen Main Station (Hauptbahnhof)
In 2009 I arrived in Aachen on a Regional Express train from Mönchengladbach (north of Aachen) and left a couple days later on a Regional Express going east to Cologne. Both of these Regional Express lines run all day on an hourly schedule, with local trains running in between.
In 2012 I came to Aachen on a local bus from Maastricht and left on an ICE (InterCityExpress) train going to Frankfurt am Main.
I have also been through Aachen a few times on the high-speed Thalys trains which run six times a day between Cologne and Paris by way of Brussels, all stopping in Aachen. These Thalys trains are a joint service of the Belgian, French, Dutch and German railways. They look like French TGV trains, which essentially is what they are.
GPS 50°46'5.27" North; 6° 5'27.76" East
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