As soon as the weather cleared (by early evening), we were outside. The place seemed deserted, but it was still nice to be able to stretch our legs again. When we turned onto the village square, a single lone figure approached us from the opposite direction. We -all three- stopped, stared, and exclaimed 'Fancy meeting you here!' but in German, of course - fell into a group hug, and then went off for a drink in a nearby...well, given the fairytale location I can only describe it as an inn-type sort of watering hole. Lots of old gnarled dark wooden beams and low ceilings pressed even lower with age.
Anyway, do you remember that the previous night we had ended up in a place called 'Da Salvatore' to have our dinner? Within an hour of our arrival there, the place was packed with what seemed to be the entire Italian community in Germany. We had chosen well, 'Da Salvatore' was by all accounts the best Italian restaurant in the area. And everyone seemed to know each other, lots of table-hopping going on, so naturally Peronne and I joined in the general friendly atmosphere, and chatted up a storm left, right and centre. By the time we called it a night, one of the punters advised us to go to either of two clubs if we wanted to sample some of the Aachener nightlife, but we were too tired really and decided not to bother. And this is the man we bumped into in Kornelimünster the next day!
After we finished our drinks, George -"call me YoYo"- Polychroniu (his Greek surname made us raise our brows in amusement; we don't know of many people whose family name suggests they can do something 'Many Times') suggested we all have dinner at one of his favourite restaurants, and took us on a leisurely tour of the area while heading back in the general direction of Aix-la-Chapelle. In Gut Schwarzenbruch, the restaurant he took us to and informed us he had had his wedding reception some 20-odd years earlier, the same friendly of somewhat more genteel atmosphere prevailed as we had found in 'Da Salvatore', with all the patrons seemingly knowing each other. The menu offered an abundance of asparagus dishes and very little else - so asparagus we had. It is a local delicacy and we had come to the area right in the middle of Asparagus Season...We talked about all sorts of things, but mostly about Greece and Germany, modern art, the restaurant business, the shipping news, and what we all did for a living - the usual stuff.
When it came time to order coffee/tea, George (neither one of us ever even thought of calling him YoYo) said we would have our coffees somewhere else. As he had explained earlier, he actually owned the clubs he'd recommended the night before (the ones we hadn't gone to), so it didn't take three guesses were we ended up. And it turned out he hadn't been idly boasting: these clubs (he was proud to show us both) really were the trendiest, most successful nightspots in Aix-la-Chapelle. They're called the Caffe Milano and the Café Madrid; we started our inspection in the Madrid and then went on to the Milano. We were given something of a grand tour, were introduced to the staff, had a few drinks and finally, were delivered to our hotel doorstep roundabout 2 a.m. After exchanging addresses and phonenumbers and the 'if ever you're in the neighbourhood's', we said goodbye, waved him off, then crept upstairs on our tippitoes. We had a bit of a lie-in the next morning and didn't come down to breakfast until they were almost ready to clear everything away. They gave us a lovely cooked breakfast but were a bit stingy on the coffee, I must say...two thimbles full was all I could scrounge off them. Still, not to worry - they gave us a few sweets for the journey. We packed our bags and got into the car.
Of course we got lost in Belgium again. Never mind. We knew how to find our way back to our own country once we managed to find our way to Antwerp. The first thing I did when I got home, was to take my etching to be framed.