Accomplishing the real reason for visiting NIC/CBB at Jülich meant that I have a full Saturday to roam around and see/do things that have been on my wishlist. Thanks to all the walking I got to do in town as well as between train station and the research center has added pleasure of walking to the list of new things learned or old things re-realized during my stay here. Although I wanted (desperately) to visit Ulm for scientifically historic reasons (hint: some body hailing from here went on to make 1905 annus mirabilis), but the length of the journey (nearly 6 hours one way, not counting layovers) and the cost of the journey (about € 100 each way) changed my plans.
Fortunately enough, earlier during the week – while waiting for some data to make its way to Jülich from the other side of Atlantic Ocean – Walter had taken me for an afternoon ride towards Aachen. My camera did not like the heavy rains throughout the afternoon and cloud cover removed any/all contrast I was hoping to get 🙁 He also took me across the border to Netherlands and Belgium but again rains, overcast conditions forced the watch tower to close early. Though some might consider this as a failed attempt to see Aachen, Vaals, Drielandenpunt…. there were many positive outcomes as well:
- Walter had taken me through the important streets in Aachen and Vaals – so, if I decided to revisit them, I would know exactly where to go and where to find the food I can eat/enjoy!
- If it wasn’t for this rainy, overcast, foggy conditions, I wouldn’t have gotten the picture below:
- Visiting the Brown Coal Mining area in the outskirts of Jülich was particularly impressive – from an architectural / engineering / machinery perspective:
Not having good enough pictures in Aachen/Vaals as well as its proximity (geographically to Jülich & financially to my pocket) meant that I would use this Saturday to re-visit that area. As always, starting early helped to reach Aachen before the tourist crowd came in and the streets were mostly filled with localites. Weather was still cloudy and did drizzle every now and then, but parts of the clouds cleared up making way for some blue skies every now and then as well – lugging around my backpack (camera backpack) was definitely useful and below are some pictures from the Aachen area:
A short bus ride and the same weird experience (of not having my passport checked while crossing borders), I found myself at a pretty familiar place – a fast-food restaurant in Vaals (Netherlands). Thanks to Walter bringing me here earlier, I knew exactly what to eat 😀
Once the hunger was taken care off, then started a nearly 12 km (about 7 miles) hike through the streets of Vaals and up & down the hill (highest elevation point in Netherlands) to Drielandenpunt – a point from where one can see, weather permitting, few towns each in Belgium, Germany and Netherlands. Hike seemed quite long and tedious – given that a 10 kg (about 20 lbs) backpack was hanging off my back – but I was pleasantly surprised by all that I got see and shoot pictures off. Some pictures from this hike, excluding views from Drielandenpunt, are below:
The view from Drielandenpunt itself is quite amazing – matching every description Walter had given me before but climbing up the stairs can be quite a process, especially with the kind of gusting winds I had to encounter today. While I was repenting my decision of not taking an elevator, the heavy backpack added some extra weight to my body – barring which, I would have flown to Aachen from the top of watch tower 🙁
Just when I was assuming that I had seen all that Vaals and Aachen had to offer – at least for a short visit such as mine – I got more 😀 First one was more a physical thing – the fanciest pancake I have ever eaten:
Next one was more a scientifically geographic yet quantum mechanically philosophical thing – a general proof that one can exist in multiple places at the same time. Although the fact that there is no border between some of these countries (thanks to Schenghen Treaty/Agreement) takes away all the scientifically geographic yet quantum mechanically philosophical thing about it 🙁
Returning back to Jülich via Düren was pretty much a text-book thing – got the required trains on time and something that I will definitely take home from this day… the pure joy of walking across countries, although the YooPer version would have to be the pure joy of walking across counties 🙂