Jennifer wins trip to Halifax’s twin town Aachen in travel writing competition

Jennifer Kidd, who will go on a trip to Germany after winning a writing competition with the Aachen Society. Below, the spectacular Aachen Dom, picture (c) Andreas Herrmann / ats
Jennifer Kidd, who will go on a trip to Germany after winning a writing competition with the Aachen Society. Below, the spectacular Aachen Dom, picture (c) Andreas Herrmann / ats
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AN A-LEVEL student is looking forward to a trip to Germany after winning a travel writing competition.

Jennifer Kidd, 17, of was overjoyed to win a week in Aachen, Halifax’s twin town, after penning a feature about it for the Halifax Aachen Society.

Her prize is a week there with the group in July, when she will stay with a German family.

The North Halifax Grammar School student, of Well Head, Halifax, said: “I’m really excited, I didn’t believe it at first.

“I’m doing German at school and I just thought it would be a really good opportunity to visit Germany. It just seemed like a really interesting thing to do.

“It will improve my German and I want to travel when I’m older so it will give me good experience.”

Her feature draws on her first-hand experience of the town, which she has visited before on school trips.

Retired A Level English examiner George Keith, who judged the competition, said: “Her entry was a comprehensive, varied account that would interest readers.

“She really tried to engage the reader and showed an awareness of travel advertising.”

The last winner of the biennial competition was Katie Oliver, who is now studying German at Durham University.

Margaret Barnes, chairwoman of the Halifax Aachen Society said: “She has to spend a year in Germany, so she is doing it in Aachen, where she already knew a few people from the week she spent there as the prize, and they have helped to find her a part-time job.”

Mrs Barnes has just returned from a four-day trip to Aachen with two coachloads of staff and pupils from Parkinson Lane Primary School, Halifax.

She said: “They had a magnificent time and were such good ambassadors for Halifax.”

For more information about the group, visit www.halifaxaachensociety.co.uk.

Jennifer’s winning piece is published in full, below.

A cultural gem that’s steeped in history

North Rhine-Westphalia is a truly spectacular region of Germany, with a population greater than that of Austria and Switzerland combined, it almost feels like a country unto itself. The majestic river Rhine, from which the region is named, winds gently through a contrast of frenzied metropolises that never seem to sleep and humble villages lost in time.

Nestled in the western part of North Rhine-Westphalia is the picturesque cathedral city of Aachen. This medieval spa town is home to some of the most fascinating and beautiful sights Germany has to offer. Aachen shares borders with the Netherlands and Belgium, giving it a distinctly international and lively vibe that you will be itching to explore.

There is an endless list of things to see and do in Aachen due to the high concentration of museums, cultural centres, concert halls and theatres. What more could you want? This means that people of any age can have a great time in Aachen. Also, whether you are in a group or simply travelling alone, the traditional atmosphere will take your breath away.

Even with a population of 259,000, Aachen has not lost its peaceful ambience; in fact its beauty and tranquility are simply outstanding. This cultural gem, situated amongst beautiful hills, was famous back in Roman times because of the hot springs which they transformed into thermal baths. The thermal waters remain a prime attraction to this day, but Aachen’s main lure really is the stunning Dom, where more than 30 German kings were crowned. In 1978, it became Germany’s first monument to be included on Unesco’s list of World Heritage Sites. Charles the Great (Charlemagne) began the construction of the Palatine Chapel in 792 and when he died in 814, his remains were buried in a vault in the cathedral. The Cathedral also features amazing stained glass windows and a shrine of The Virgin Mary which dates from 1220-1239.

Other places that are well-worth visiting include the Grashaus, a late medieval house which is one of the oldest non-religious buildings in downtown Aachen. It was the former city hall before the present building took over this function.

The Aachen City Hall or “Rathaus” was converted from the palace of Charlemagne in the early 14th century. Guided tours are available and you can see copies of the Imperial Crown Jewels as well as the gothic and baroque furniture of the building.

If you are not a fan of historical sights you can also walk through the Frankenberg Quarter (Frankenberger Viertel), an alternative area in the south of Aachen. There are many restaurants and diners here you could try including Turkish or Arab cuisines, let your taste buds wander! Aachen offers many different types of cuisine, from traditional German food to exotic cuisines. The city centre (Stadtzentrum) offers restaurants of all categories, prices being relatively cheap in comparison with other German cities.

One of the nicest culinary delights originating from Aachen is Printen, a form of flat Gingerbread/Lebkuchen. Whether you have a sweet-tooth or not, sampling a piece of this edible history is a must.

Aachen’s pedestrian zone offers a wild range from small shops in the tourist area (Krämerstraße and the local market) to multiple shops and cafes in one of Aachen’s pedestrian zones (Adalbertstraße). It is well worth a visit because you never know what amazing treasures you will find.

The accommodation in Aachen varies from luxurious hotels, complete with spacious rooms and swimming pools, to hostels where school parties or backpackers can rest their heads. The hostels are situated in the heart of Aachen whereas the hotels are located just outside the historic centre.

The old town is best explored on foot and orientation signs can be found all around. Because Aachen at a whole is a fairly large city, a car can come in handy but parking can get expensive, especially in the centre of town. Fortunately, Aachen has an excellent city bus system including a few night bus lines. If you are feeling active you can rent a bike at the “Fahrrad station”, in the central train station (Hauptbahnhof). Although it is not the most biker-friendly town in Germany, there are a number of bike routes and getting around on bike is increasingly popular.

Aachen has large student population due to the high standard of universities available. In addition foreign students account for more than 21% of the student body; this could be down to the many historic attractions, beautiful landscape and peaceful environment. Aachen is twinned with 11 cities including Cape Town- South Africa, Reims- Northern France and Halifax- Northern England.

Aachen is a “must see” city with something for anyone. As soon as you arrive you can soak up the serene atmosphere and this spectacular town features architecture you will find yourself falling instantly in love with.