Hiking report

Hiking to Belgian Dutch German border!

Yesterday evening:

Clara: “Hey Sam! Organize a guitar-karaoke evening!”

Clara is a mathematician, and we don’t really understand much when she talks. Still, I knew that I had to take my guitar to the hike today.

And I knew that I would suffer today for carrying a guitar, because today, we were hiking from Aachen to Belgium, then to the Netherlands along the border. A special hike that I’ve been planning for some time now, as Aachen is fairly far away from Düsseldorf. And so we decided to do it today, on the German reunification day, which was the last day of this long weekend of 4 days.

The funny thing is that it rained a lot and was partially quite stormy this weekend, but the weather was consistently good, when we were hiking outside. Of course the fact that the weather is always good when I organize a hike has no real basis, but I wouldn’t surprised if there were people who believe in it by now.

This trip to Aachen was planned for quite some time now, because it’s fairly far away and it’s a different railway region, meaning that we needed a special ticket for this trip. I changed the trail several times over the course of last weeks, just to make sure that this is going to be a good one. And appropriately enough, there were almost 40 people this time. It has never been as many as this time since Müngsten bridge, which was long before the summer holidays.

I do truly appreciate the fact that we almost never have to care about the ticket whenever we go hiking in this region, especially today, it was fairly complicated, because there’s something called 5-person ticket in Germany, which is way cheaper than 5 times normal ticket. And of course it had to be fully centralized. Fortunately, for those who came there was no problem, they all came early enough today. But there were some people who had confirmed yesterday, for whom I bought an extra ticket, but they didn’t appear in the end. Luckily, there were people who joined us later in Cologne who needed a ticket, so in the end it was not exactly wasted. But I don’t want to be dependent on my luck every time. So somewhere I’m happy that we don’t have to go through this from next time…

Only two days ago, we saw that Schwelm was actually not so small. Surprisingly enough, we managed to get into the nature almost right after we left the train station in Aachen. It’s probably related to the fact that the railway makes a circle around Aachen’s city center with several stations. So depending on how you start walking, it’s relatively easy to get into the nature. Schwelm or Mettmann, on the other hand, have the main station right in the middle of the city. So even though these cities were far smaller, it was not quite easy to get out of the city.

There was some discussion before the beginning of the hike, whether this region was flat or not. Quite some people had guessed it was, probably because we were heading for the Netherlands. For sure, we cannot say we were trekking in the mountains, but it was certainly flat either. Actually this triple point is the highest point in the Netherlands, with 300 something meters above the sea level. It doesn’t sound high, but for the Netherlands it’s a considerable height.

I was expecting something special at the border to Belgium, at least some sign. Unfortunately, that was not really the case. The only one difference we could see was that we had a blue sky on the German side, and not on the Belgian side, whatever the reason was.

This triple point is actually itself a famous touristic place. And when we arrived, there were a crowd of Germans celebrating there. We went up a tower for 3€50. We wondered who actually gets the money, Germany, Belgium or the Netherlands.

And at the end of the break, it finally made sense that I was carrying my guitar all the time. Whether people sing along is quite culturally dependent. Here in Germany, it seems to be associated with embarrassment, probably because they pretty much never have the opportunity to sing. Fortunately, the Germans in this hiking group, of whom there were quite some today, were different. And so, it really made sense that my guitar was there. The unfortunate thing about singing was also that even though we share the famous songs in America and Western Europe, they are not quite known in other parts of the globe. So since we had only some Europeans and two Americans (Daniel from Mexico and Paloma from Brazil), the majority could not join us. Especially I don’t know any song from India. That’s something I’ll have to change in the near future.

On the way back to Aachen, we lost two people. It doesn’t apply only to hikes, but whenever people cannot find each other, people tend to ask “where are you?”. And the weird thing is that the other person also asks the same question, leading the conversation nowhere. Actually rather than asking where the other person is, it’s much more helpful to say where you are. This is particularly the case for the people in the hikes, because usually they are the ones who are left behind and we know where they should go.

I was planning to go to the city center at the end of the hike, but unfortunately we could not do it. This was the problem with the ticket, as on each ticket, we have to put one name, and almost all those who put their names wanted to go back home. So we didn’t really have a choice. As a matter of fact, there was no control on the way to Aachen this morning. I somehow managed to stay there, because Kairi, who had a ticket, wanted to stay there with the Asian participants (+Sarah).

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