On Sunday my good friend Lieven and I found ourselves in Bonn, Germany.
This wasn’t by some random coincidence.
I had been catching up with Lieven and his family in Ghent, Belgium and we decided to pay another close friend a visit.
Lucia, a former roommate in Murcia, had recently moved to Bonn and invited us to come and check out the city that she now calls home.
We both had time off from work, neither one of us had ever been to Bonn before, and Lucia was one of our best friends. This combination made booking a train ticket to see her very easy.
Despite living in a completely separate country, it only took roughly four hours to arrive to Bonn from Ghent by train.
Ghent to Brussels, Brussels to Cologne, Cologne to Bonn, train station to Münsterplatz.
By eleven in the morning on Sunday we had reached our destination and were already enjoying a sunny morning breakfast in Münsterplatz, one of Bonn’s centrally located plazas. With a Berliner pastry in my hand and views of a Ludwik Van Beethoven statue in front of us, we had about thirty hours to enjoy this western German city.
Time was of an essence, and Lucia made a suggestion that sounded perfect:
“Do you guys want to go and rent some bicycles?”
We were experiencing some nice weather, so renting a bike to tour around her city sounded pretty great.
Immediately after paying an affordable rental price (10 euros for the day), it became clear that Bonn was a city meant for cyclists. At all corners one could find a lone or pack of bikes parked in front of houses, cafes, and scattered all about on fences.
Bonn’s claim to fame is that it was once the capital of West Germany, as a result of the country being separated at the climax of World War II. Ludwik Van Beethoven was born there in 1770, the delicious candy company known as Haribo was founded there in 1920, and the University of Bonn provides a eternally youthful presence. Cologne is 15 miles away, and the wide flowing Rhine River dissects the city in two.
We followed a bike path along the Rhine, towards a district of Bonn called Bad Godesderg to check out a food-truck event that was taking place. All along the way we found ourselves passing scores of joggers, walkers, rollerbladers, and of course many over cyclists.
Lucia told us that the winters there were long, so it appeared that any trace of fair weather brought out everyone to bask in its temporary glory.
Bonn is clean, the buildings are wide and in the words of Lieven, very “state-like.” We could see elements of what was once a capitol. We didn’t know if one building was an embassy or simply university housing.
After the food truck event, we continued to some other places of interest like the Bad Godesderg castle, which has a trendy looking lounge inside and boasts one of the best bird-eye views of Bonn. We ventured further down the Rhine, look a ferry across the river’s rapids, and locked our bikes in Königswinter. Schloss Drachenburg was constructed to be the palace of a baron named Stephen von Sarter, however the former banker passed away before its completion in 1884. What remains is now a really cool museum for those willing to hike a long walk above Königswinter. We found out the hard way that it closes early, and opted for some nice scenic photos once at the top of the hill.
After returning the bikes, we spent the rest of the evening relaxing and Lucia cooked us a delicious Spanish style tortilla.
The next day we checked out a hipster coffee shop called Black Coffee Pharmacy, wandered around some souvenir shops, walked through the city’s expansive botanical gardens, and ended our stay with a taste of some German schnitzel at a brewery restaurant called Bönnsch.
It felt great to be in Bonn. Firstly it was refreshing to be in a new city, to experience a place that wasn’t overcrowded with tourists. More importantly we got to hang out with Lucia. She’s a close friend, and it was nice to see where she’s relocated.
Saying farewell was tough, but we have grown accustomed to saying bye in one place and then hello in another. There’s another meet-up pending, perhaps in Bonn or maybe in some place that we can’t even predict.
Until that happens, I wish her the best.
Thanks for reading this blog, have you been working out? Keep up the good work!
(Bonner Münster Church)
(View from the castle in Bad Godesberg)
(Ferry crossing the Rhine)