Oh glorious days between friday and monday. Days we look forward to, days we enjoy, and days we mourn when monday comes and takes them away. So this weekend was a little different. Belgium celebrated 'Truce Day' where we remember the end of the first world war in 1918. Suffice the fact that the weather sucked, on saturday Belgium was drenched in autumn rain and devote of any economical activity, cause all the shops where closed. So we skipped the border and went for a little daytrip to Aachen.
One of the nice things of living in the nook of the country is that one is very very close to the "aussland" as we could say. 30 km's is the distance that devides us from one of the major Dutch cities of Maastricht, and a small 80 kilometers seperate us from the German city of Aachen. So we pop over regularly. Aachen USED to be the one stop shop place for all my hardware needs. Back in those days the VAT in Germany on computer parts was a only 16% (as opposed to 21% in .Be) and they had some excellent cash-and-carry computer shops to get ones hardware. So we used to order on line, take the car at 9am in the morning , drive to Aachen , arrive at 10, pick and pay our order and be back before dinner. (actually we had dinner in Vaals, in holland, before we came back home) What was nice was the whole international flavor, carrying three kinds of currency and having to speak Dutch, German and occasionally some French before the Saturday afternoon had started.
But these days things are different. The VAT in Germany went up , making it no longer interesting to buy computerparts, OEM systems are soooo cheap it isn't worth the while and of course the Euro has chased away the Gulden and the Demark. But i'm going to give you a little overview of where we went , so if you ever feel like going .. you know where to go.
When going to the city of aachen. The best place to park is probably beneath the Media Markett in the town centre. It offers safe and cheap underground parking ,but the cool stuff is , the general multimedia geek-out-paradise is right above you. So no need to "shlepp" around that 50" plasma cross town.
If you exit the parking lott , go to the main "AlexanderGraben" and turn right to stroll down to the center of the town. By then you have probably gotten hungry you can endulge yourself in BratWurst and stuff , but for us a great place to eat is the LOUISIANNA. This very American restaurant offers great ribs, chicken wings , all in a southern flavour. Downright excellent food. But the shop is strategically placed between 2 major points of interests for geeks like us.
At the entrance of the gallery there is the DATEC computer shop . A very small shop that sports a wide aray of hardware, but is very well known for the MIRAI screens they sell. Getting ones hands on one of their wopping widescreen displays (1440*900 resolution) for 257 Dollars US is a bargain. I personally have bought two over the last two months and absolutely LOVE Them. Looking at an apple cinema display (20" widescreen) for more then double the price, its not worth the hassle.
But at the end of the gallery, you walk straight into the SATURN MEDIA STORE . When it comes to getting a cheap bargain and a lot of hardware, software, dvd's, music and what have you to browse through , this is sheer heaven. When going shopping for your geeky gear, be sure to COMPARE the prices from the Media Market and the Saturn shop. These two shops are regularly at each others throats and that results in getting a price difference of 80 euro's or more , just by strolling through town.
And of course, no geek is complete without his dose of coffee. 2 excellent locations pop to mind. First of all , the spectacular "Glass Cubus" A coffeehouse on the top of Aachens major shopping street. Sporting a wide variety of coffee's and Java's its a bit on the pricy side, but worth the while. Where it only to be sitting inside , watch the world go by and having the comforting thought that nobody can look IN. (but be careful not to walk past it just like that. As you can see on the picture .. it can appear quite invisible.) There is also a Vodaphone shop inside the building, you'll find directions on their site
But if you are into American Coffee , be sure to walk up to the town square and (walk by the LUST FOR LIFE store ) and visit the local Starbucks . Since we don't have one of those here and we are big big Java sluts, you can mostly find the Knights perched up behind one fracking big cappuccino to round up the day. Mac
So next time you go over to the German side of the border, you might be interested in our little tourist tour. For all I know , we surely had a swell day.