Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Weekend in Bonn

I was invited to spend the weekend in Bonn (really a suburb of Bonn) by a friend of my uncle's (the connection is originally what brought me to the bank in Düsseldorf) and I was happy to take the opportunity. An hour's train ride from Düsseldorf (the train wasn't air conditioned, oddly, so the ride wasn't the most fun). It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, so the town was bustling when I got out of the train station. 

One of the first buildings I saw, with a wedding going on. Every few minutes another member of the wedding party would come out the stairs there, walking very ceremoniously down the stairs.

From a Biergarten. Seen on the hill from across the Rhein is Königswinter. The light building at the top of the tall hill on the left is the Steinberger Hotel, and you'll see more of that below. On the very right, the small gray building is Drachenburg on the Drachenfels. It's much more majestic from up close, but we didn't make it there.

Later that day we took a train to Cologne, to see the cathedral and a festival called the Kölner Lichter (Cologne Lights). It was a huge firework festival that took place over the Rhein (the river) and had firework displays like I've never seen.

But first: the Kölner Dom. It's right on the same square as the train station, and according to some websites, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I was told that though it would normally qualify, it couldn't be one, as it was too close to a major train station, and UNESCO wouldn't name it one because it was worried about an attack on the train station damaging the cathedral. That might have been the case before, and now it's changed, I'm not sure, that's just what I was told.

The windows were gorgeous. And while these photos don't show size very well, it was huge. It was quiet and went on forever and took a long time to walk back to front.

Some of the tiling.

The Kölner Dom has the largest facade of any church in the world, and that became clear quickly. I asked for a picture of myself and the church, not realizing the trouble that would cause. (Bottom right: we finally got one, but I sort of blend in..)

And once it got dark, we got ready for the light show.

Sparklers were passed around, and we all stood on the sides of the river. Boats went up and down the river, most of them were boats on which you could have dinner while watching the show. The fireworks were launched from a boat in the river, and every once in a while when the lights were bright enough, you could see the men running back and forth.

A short clip of what we watched for 45 minutes. Once our show was done, another started a few miles down the river, and after that, came back up the river to a different area.

The music was incredible, as was the fact that this was all a free festival, every weekend night for about a month. I'm happy I got the chance to see it while I was there!

The next day, we drove across the river and took a hike up the mountains shown in the first picture.

Germany isn't a particularly hilly country, and these were the really the first time I had been able to see over the land, without standing in a church tower or something of the like.

We had the best conversations walking up the mountain, and because my hosts have lived all around the world, I got to practice my English again, all while being amazed at the perfection of theirs.

After we got back to the car, we drove to the top of the mountains, to the Steinberger Hotel.

From their patio. The hotel was beautiful, and as Bonn was the capital of Germany from 1949 to 1990, this hotel was the site for many a political conference, hosting leaders from all over the world.

It's quite the view, and the patio was connected to many of their giant rooms, that can be used for all sorts of events (not just your everyday political conference).

After lunch and on my way out of town, we went to the Haus der Geschichte (House of History). A free museum, it's on the Museummeile (museum's mile), a very famous place in Bonn, even to those who don't live there.

Because of Germany's history, it's somewhat unbalanced. In Berlin we went to the national German history museum, which is in a giant building. We went the entire first floor, which went from the beginning of Germany's history until 1920ish. The second floor, the same square-footage and full with artifacts, was the last 100 years of Germany's history.

The House of History told the story of Germany after WWII, until now. As it was West Germany's capital for 4 decades, Bonn had quite the collection at its museum, and though I had been to countless German-history museums, I had a great time and would have loved to stay longer.

Marxism poster.
East Germany propaganda.
Just hanging out on the moon.

Loved Bonn and was happy I got a chance to see yet another German city!

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