I cannot tell how many times in the past 23 years that I’ve driven past the exit for Aachen, Germany. This past October I finally took that exit and discovered along with my three guests from Manila one of the most charming of small German cities, and one which is packed with history and ancient architectural remains from the Holy Roman Empire of the German Reich. Charlemagne had his favorite palace here, and the octagonal 8th century church and remnants of that palace stand today to awe the visitor. We had the luck to arrive on a day when a large open-air market was taking place. There’s nothing like a European flea market to bring out the collector in you.
Copenhagen was another city which had somehow escaped our radar in the past. Too far north, or just deemed too expensive for many of our travelers, the city has delights that (yes, while expensive) are also well worth the trek north. Combined with the neaby Swedish city of Malmo, the pair make for a wonderful long weekend. A stay in a converted warehouse near the old harbor was a highlight and provided one of the most comfortable sleeping experiences of the year. I told the manager on checking out after three blissful nights that I wanted to take the mattress with me!
The Wachau Valley of Austria is the setting for picturesque villages and majestic abbeys. The river flows strong but peacefully here, through craggy gorges laid out with lush vineyards. A bike path follows the course of the Danube. It’s a dream of ours to take bikes along the entire course from Melk to Vienna. Maybe in 2013!