Bonn – Interim Capital of Germany
Posted on July 31, 2016
Bonn is such a fine walkable university town, we wanted to revisit after being away for 15 years. We had left many a stone unturned, such as a visit to Beethoven’s birth place, and the grave site of Robert and Clara Schumann.
But on our drive from the Moselle Valley to Bonn we first passed through The Eifel, surprising country dotted with crater lakes, redolent of volcanic activity. In fact, the most recent Eifel crater lake formed only 11,000 years ago.
Naturally we had to leave our car and start walking. Although there are no towering volcanoes here, there are numerous small volcanoes (up to 2500 feet) not far away and quite sizable ones flanking the nearby Rhine River, and peppered all across Germany right up to the Polish border. We have hiked to the top of most of them, but not on this trip. At the top, they all have cafes with coffee and pastries.
After hiking up and down various crater rims, we were quite set for a good lunch. This hotel/restaurant seemed like the perfect place. It being a pretty nice day, everyone dined on the terrace, but most had left by the time we arrived. So we avoided their cigarette smoke.
We explored the town a bit and found it to be in pristine order, just like almost everywhere we have been so far.
Running a bit behind schedule, we drove the swift and scenic Autobahn all the way to Bonn, which took an hour or so. We exited the highway only a few blocks from our well situated hotel, where we stayed for five days. Because we were located only a few minutes’ walk from the center of Bonn, we expected our relatively inexpensive room to be quite small and cramped. But when we checked in, the clerk decided to put us up for no extra charge in a place across the street in a full size apartment with glassed-in balcony. We were delighted.
After an outstanding breakfast at the hotel, including 20 varieties of honey, and nearly as many jams plus all the usual fine things offered for breakfast, including carrot and potato salads, we hit the pavement with vigor.
The Beethoven House was first on our agenda. It was worth the visit, as it seemed really authentic and had just the right number of quality displays to represent Beethoven’s life and work. Bonn is definitely proud of him. Still, at age 22 he left for schooling in Vienna and never returned.
Like most other German cities, Bonn was badly bombed toward the end of WWII, but meanwhile it has been well reconstructed. Shortly after the war Bonn became the temporary capital of West Germany, located about as far away from the Russian warmongers as possible. Within a short time after the fall of the Soviet Union, the official capital and most government offices moved to Berlin. The transition was painful but Bonn today is thriving.
One blustery day we took the subway to the Museum Mile, where a collection of art, history, and assorted other museums and government offices are located, near the river. It’s a right elegant part of the city.
A few minutes’ walk from our hotel along a wide, tree-lined promenade is a most convenient bridge that crosses the Rhine. Solar panels line one side of the bridge.
On Eva’s bucket list was to take a boat trip along the Rhine. She finally got her wish and spent a day along a really lovely section of the river. Across the river some distance upstream she disembarked, lunched and explored Linz before returning later in the day. Nearby is the town of Remagen, famous in WWII because a bridge located here was the only one of 22 bridges which crossed the Rhine that was not destroyed by the Nazis on their retreat from France. It was used heavily by the Allies to get troops and material across the Rhine before it collapsed a few days later. It has not been rebuilt.
After weeks in Germany we were looking right shabby. We found a barber from Kosovo who trimmed us up nicely. He spoke five languages and was a riot of entertainment.
Not five minutes from our hotel was the symphony concert hall, Beethovenhalle. In front was a modern rendition of Beethoven.
Here we draw to a close our story of Bonn. We are leaving for points north, well away from vine and wine. We pick up daughter Suzi in Düsseldorf, where she flies in from San Francisco, and the three of us travel for a few weeks together.