Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Canada & Mexico 2011

Birthplace of a giant

I set my alarm for 0730 in order to ensure that I made the most of my limited time in Bonn. I had breakfast in the hotel's main restaurant, which was already fairly busy. There was the usual Germanic selection of cold meats, cheeses and hard-boiled eggs, but also a comprehensive cooked breakfast option. Strangely, however, there didn't appear to be any cereals. I was soon ready to begin my explorations.

This was my third visit to Bonn, the relatively quiet Rhineland city that during the post-war division of Germany served as capital of West Germany. After German reunification in 1990 with Berlin restored as capital, Bonn remained the seat of government until 1999. It then returned to being a University town whose main claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). My two previous visits had both been undertaken as day trips from nearby Cologne and neither was particularly recent, so I was keen to refamiliarise myself with the place.

I quickly got my bearings, helped by my walk the previous evening, and soon located the Beethoven House in Bonngasse, a short distance from the Hilton. I would need to return later, though, as it didn't open its doors until 10am. The neighbouring Namen-Jesu-Kirche, one of the city's most impressive churches, was covered in scaffolding and as such needed to be struck from the agenda. I passed the time by wandering around nearby city centre streets in the bright morning sunlight, taking in sights such as the Minster and its square, and the Old Town Hall.
ABOVE: Whatever I may have expected of posters advertising musical events in Bonn, this wasn't it!

ABOVE: Old Town Hall
RIGHT: Post Office building
Soon it was time to make my way back to Bonngasse and visit the little museum dedicated to possibly the greatest of all composers, in the very place where he first made an appearance in this world. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was a highly popular attraction and the crooked old building seemed to be filling up remarkably quickly, considering that it had only just opened its doors for the day. It was interesting to browse through the many artefacts on display, including paintings, musical instruments, letters, original scores and perhaps most touching of all, the composer's primitive hearing aids.    
ABOVE: The Beethoven House, showing the frontage on Bonngasse and the internal courtyard. Photography inside the building is not permitted.

Next, I walked the short distance to the impressive main building of Bonn University, originally built as a palace for the Prince-Elector of Cologne and no longer required in that role when the Rhineland was absorbed into Prussia in 1815. I walked to the art museum at the far end of the park in order to be able to see the building in its entirety. Then, as the blue morning skies started to be replaced by grey, high-level cloud cover, I made my way to Poppelsdorf Palace. This building also has a distinguished past: having originally been built for the Archbishops of Cologne, it has long since joined the Prince-Elector's palace in University ownership.

ABOVE: Lunch beckons!
I returned to the central area and, finding myself in the vicinity of the main station, realised that a spot of lunch would be in order. After an initial lack of success in finding a place that took my fancy, I spotted Cafe Rittershaus on a corner location and decided that this would do nicely. I had an enjoyable lunch of goulash soup and quiche with salad, washed down by two local Kölsch beers served in small, but absolutely authentic, 0.2 litre cylindrical glasses. I had a Viennese iced coffee to finish off. A large, extended family group had occupied the conservatory during my visit, but I never did manage to work out what the occasion was.

Thoroughly satisfied, I made my way back to the Hilton to review my photos and relax for a bit.
I checked out just prior to 3pm. Before heading for the airport, I decided to make use of my free 'welcome drink' voucher to have a farewell drink in the hotel's Kennedy Bar. I had another Kölsch - it seemed the right thing to do in this part of the world!

The hotel ordered a taxi for me, but I was convinced that the one I eventually boarded was a 'drive by' that got lucky. At least there was no doubt that it was an official taxi. I asked myself, certainly not for the first time, why it is that catching a taxi is so rarely a straightforward affair.

The airport seemed commendably quiet and I had a very easy check-in and passage through Security. I quickly found the Senator Lounge and relaxed there until time to head to the gate for my flight to London.
ABOVE: Senator Lounge at CGN 

(Link to flight log in side panel)

Arriving at the remotest corner of Heathrow's Terminal 1, I braced myself for the long walk ahead. By the time I got to the main building, passed through an e-gate at UK Border Control and made my way to the baggage hall, the bags were starting to appear - almost unprecedented at LHR! I took a lift down to the Heathrow Express station and just managed to board a Terminal 4 shuttle before it left. After the short ride, I took the familiar walk into the terminal and out along the covered walkway to the Hilton. Briefly switching on the television in my room produced nothing more stimulating than the start of yet another Eurovision Song Contest.

This was enough to chase me out in search of some light evening sustenance. I spent some time in the new ground-floor Executive Lounge and enjoyed a few snacks before heading for bed relatively early, shortly after 10pm: I had already experienced a one-hour time difference and would have an early start to contend with the following day. As I settled down for a well-earned sleep, I recalled the marginal cost of my day out in Germany and was well satisfied by what had been achieved with my ten pounds.

Saturday 14 May

Flight Log LH3414

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Beethoven in Bonn

Images of the master abounded in his birthplace - some conventional, others less so.