Subject: Aachen suggestions, and Christmas markets
Hi Paula, and fellow Ziners.

My apologies for being so quiet over recent weeks. A tad busy at work right now and I'm developing an unhealthy knowledge of the London-Frankfurt flight path. And I'm still planning to give a run down of my five days in Paris which was almost two months ago.

Harking back to my Duesseldorf days, I have a couple of suggestions from Aachen that are public transportable. The first is Xanten, which is a fairly small town with a fairly large Roman fort/museum. You can get there by train from Aachen quite easily. Check out the website for information on what's on. You'll be there at the wrong time of year I think for the open- air opera, but we happened across a big Roman festival when we went - complete with gladiatorial combat and traditional Roman craft activities etc. Although who'd have thought the Romans were also into Bratwurst and beer?

Suggestion no. 2 is the Dutch city of Utrecht. This is a large place with much to explore, and shops shops shops. Many people - myself included - may just be aware of it as a train station. It is a major interchange point in the Dutch railway system, but venture outside and there is lots to see and do. There are one or two decent art museums, canalside paths to wander down (although in winter I don't think the cafes are open there), and as I mentioned - shops galore. The place has a very friendly, lively atmosphere.

Depending on when you're going, you may also be able to enjoy the Christmas markets in Germany. Cologne's are the largest, but also by far the most touristy. Duesseldorf's are better I think. You can read my views on them here:

Hope this helps

Jonathan London, UK