As QQ is doing her thesis on the Westphalia treaty in a bygone age we used the trip to London as an opportunity to visit the treaty's home: Munster and Osnabruck.
Hopping on a short flight to Munster via Munich (the last leg was on a propeller plane!) we hit the ground running - the mission was to visit two historical sites in two different towns only some 30km away from eachother, all in 36 hours.
QQ did a fantastic job organising the stay there - we checked into a hotel operated by the Ibis franchise and we were blown away by how good the room was, not to mention the price was very good too. I was in for a treat on the morning afterwards - the Ibis breakfast, after the Germanic/Scandinavian fashion, was great. I'm not normally a big breakfast eater but I helped myself to the yoghurt muesli and salmon and cheese on dried crackers...
Getting ahead of myself there... on the bus from the airport to town centre we glimpsed outside to the surrounded country and QQ and I were both in agreement - this would be a great place to retire to. Open plains, thick woods, rolling hills, rushing streams... We fell in love with it quickly. As for the town centre I took in the steepled churches, the cobbled walkways and stone and wooden architecture that is the hallmark of all Medieval European towns. Munster, a town marketing itself as a place of history and culture was doing pretty well - I saw plenty of German tourists (almost all the literature in the tourist office was in German) as well as plenty of University kids running around too.
Before we visited the historical sites we went out to get ourselves some grub, and get we did. QQ came prepared, she had a list of recommended restaurants to go to (the guide book intentionally said to ignore McDonalds) and so with my excellent navigational skills (?!) and QQ's address we settled down in a beautifully ancient German pub. In the midday we almost had the place to ourselves and we quickly started to feast on the soup, snitzel, potatoe salad and mandatory ale. I, once again, confirmed that I am a big fan of German food and beer!
We visited the Rathaus (German for Townhall?) to see the site were the Treaty of Westphalia was signed and I was taken back by how small it was. I was expecting Communist style gigantic halls, so big your echo would revertebrate long after you have left but no, it was cupboard sized room in comparison. To think that the demi-gods of their time, the Holy Roman Empire and its constituents, King of France and King of Sweden carved up the border lines of the great European continent as a consequence of the ravenous 30 Years War in the 17th Century in that room was something awe inspiring. Oh, to be able to turn back the hands of time and to feel the energy in that room...
We also went to visit the Munster museum which was an excellent time spent. To see the growth of the town over the ages, to see the battles fought there, to see the religious cults that slit each other's throats inorder to claim that town!
The next day we took a train to Osnabruck, a town smaller than Munster yet still the home of the 2nd place where the Treaty of Westphalia was finalised. Osnabruck, a town marketing itself as a mix between a casino town and a town of Peace (contradiction anybody?) was also a nice place to visit though not as good as Munster. We didn't spend very long there as we needed to catch a flight that evening but we visited the Rathaus, our main mission for going.
It was in Osnabruck that QQ and I went to a small cafeteria for a tea/coffee. I was giving the waitress our order but after doin gso she just stood there. Thinking that I spoke too lightly I turned up the volume a few notches and repeated the order to which the waitress gave me a look as if to say 'I heard the first time, are you stupid?'. With that we left Osnabruck and caught a flight back to London. Munster was great, Osnabruck was lukewarm.