Since we've been in Aachen (2.5 weeks now) I haven't done nearly enough schoolwork (or BLOGGING), but I have done a lot of cleaning, grocery shopping, and cooking. (I should probably be embarrassed to admit this, but we are currently on a 15-day streak of not eating out, by FAR the longest of our marriage, and I'm feeling pretty proud.) I've managed to fit in a few fun things, too. In particular, I've made a couple of excursions with the lovely Katie Stapleton, an American who, along with her husband and two adorable boys, moved into the Aachen Branch the same week we did. (They are leaving in about a week, but they may come back early next year, and we really, really hope they do!)
Our first trip was to the Carolus Thermen:
I didn't know what to expect from the Aachen baths--being washed by a stony-faced old woman? naked communal soaking?--but I couldn't have imagined the Carolus Thermen. Granted, it's the most upscale bath house in Aachen, so it may be that the others are different, but this one is extremely fancy. This is just the central pool; we went in 3 or 4 others, 2 of which were outdoors. It's unlike any other pool or spa I've ever been to. There are no lap pools, but there also are no real hot tubs--all the pools are different levels of warm. They're the right depth to play in, but children under 6 aren't allowed. One pool has a current. All of them have various spouts and jets and places to sit. The procedure for stowing your belongings and getting changed is quite complicated. At the reception desk you get a plastic coin. You take it first to a tiny locker where you stow your valuables and get a key that straps onto your wrist. Then you go to the changing rooms, which are between the hall and the locker room. Once you're changed, you go through to the locker room and find the number that matches your tiny locker. Then you go to the showers, where you can leave your towel in yet another cubby. (Or, if you're like us, you realize at the showers that everyone else has brought their own towels and you go to customer service to rent a hand towel for 2 euros.) That was way more detail than you needed, but I found it entertaining, once I got over being intimidated by the system. Now, if you go to the Carolus Thermen, which I highly recommend that you do, you won't have to be intimidated.
My other outing with Katie was to the Lindt chocolate factory in West Aachen. As with the Haribo factory in Bonn, we expected to tour the factory but found that the only place visitors are allowed is the factory store. So I bought a giant Trauben Nuss bar and we took some pictures.
Yes, there was a giant golden horse. We weren't sure if it was in fact a chocolate horse. Wie heißt das auf Deutsch, you ask?
Why, Goldpferd, of course!
Aachen seems to have a lot of events going on, which is great. Last weekend Tyler and I went to a giant craft fair that was set up all around the Rathaus and Dom. On Wednesday I went briefly to the Domspringen (cathedral jumping) event. This is an annual pole vaulting contest that usually takes place in one of the squares adjacent to the cathedral. This year it was held in front of the Rathaus, instead, for reasons that my German was not good enough to comprehend. I must say, I was a bit disappointed, because I had heard of this contest and thought it had something to do with jumping off the roof of the Dom, which, you must admit, would've been more exciting. It was still cool to see pole vaulting in the middle of the market square, though. The rainbow umbrella person walked right into my perfect action shot, but this picture gives you an idea of the scene.
The vault is behind the umbrella, if you couldn't tell.
Up next: our apartment building and neighborhood. They just took the scaffolding off our building, so I need to take a picture of it in its freshly-painted, graffiti-free glory. We hope to have some indoor painting to report soon, too.