A Day in Bonn, Germany
If you are struggling about where to plan your next vacation, you definitely want to travel to one of Germany’s oldest cities, Bonn, Germany. If you are a history buff, then this city is for you. You will not be disappointed with all of the historic churches and homes. Not to mention, your options of different restaurants, gardens, and weather. This article is going to give you the ins and outs in how to fully experience a day in the life of Bonn.
Bonn, Germany has been around since as early as 11 B.C. as documented by a Roman writer named Florus. The Romans were said to have love visiting Bonn because of its location near on the Rhine, beautiful scenery and decent climate. The land is to have been around for more than centuries however, people didn’t start living there until 50,000 years ago.
Bonn University was created in the year 1818. The school started with the colleges including theology, law, pharmacy, and general studies. It was seen as one of the most important higher education systems in Germany alone during the 19th century.
Another fun historical fact about Bonn is that Ludwig van Beethoven in the city in 1770. This is Bonngasse 20, where he was born. It was in this city that Beethoven would learn music and become a prodigy.
What to Do and how to Say it!
(Bare with me, I’ll be trying to incorporate some German words in here!)
Suggested for Spring season exploration and sight-seeing. To start your morning in Bonn, begin with a run or walk along the Rhine River. Many people are out in the mornings riding bikes or training for the Spring Bonn Duetsch Post Marathon or enjoying a morning stroll with coffee. After, do as the Germans and fuel up with a pastry and coffee. The city of Bonn has many coffee shops, each offering a different environment and demographic.
Goldbraun is among the more popular cafes with outdoor seating, window seats on the second story overlooking the city, or a circular lounge area on the first floor. The coffee shop generally has a younger vibe with many students from Universität Bonn across the street. Recommend an espresso macchiato (espresso with a dash of steamed milk) with Nutella croissant. This is one of Bonn’s many amazing cafes. Here is the link of the cafe if you are interested! http://www.goldbraun.de/goldbraun/Kaffee_fuer_Bonn.html
Following a coffee break, head into the main center where you can see the Munster Church (church for all Bonn locals that is always busy on Sunday) then walk about 5–10 blocks to Beethoven’s birth house located in the heart of the city. A guided tour will show you original Beethoven’s music sheets, historical paintings, original instruments while learning about the history and creation of Beethoven’s musical talents. Here is a link to find more about Beethoven Tours! http://www.bonn.de/tourismus_kultur_sport_freizeit/bonn_ist_kultur/beethoven/03805/index.html?lang=en
Weather dependent — for lunch head to Markt Plaza (it is spelled Markt with no “e”) where local vendors and farmers will have tents and stands set up for selling any in-season fruits and vegetables. Other specialty shops including ham, meats, cheeses, salami, and sausages can be bought. Several food trucks are set up — a “flammkuchen” is highly recommended. It is basically a very thin pizza flat bread similar to a tortilla laid thing with toppings ranging from lox to ham to corn to feta then baked in the oven for about 5–10 minutes.
If this does not sound appealing — a typical german curry wurst stand is also available. A curry wurst is similar to small slices hot dogs, but referred to as sausages in Germany. It is delicious with curry ketchup and a side of friends. Once you have your food, walk towards to Universität Bonn and stop at a kiosk on the way to grab a Kolch Fruh beer. The “hofgarten” is just in front of the university and is a huge lawn surrounded by trees. When the weather is nice, the field is filled with people absolutely everywhere. Find a spot to sit, take in the sun, and enjoy the people watching. Common sights to see include students eating lunch or studying, groups of people playing music, frisbee or soccer games, dogs running freely, and of course tons of casual beer drinking and happiness.
Try to sit and take it all in for at last an hour. When you feel ready, head through the main square of town and towards Alstdadt Bonn (old town Bonn).
If you’re are lucky enough to be there during the Cherry Blossom blooming, Alstadt is a pink wonderland. The cherry blossom bloom once a year, usually at the end of April or beginning of May but it can never be predicted as it is dependent on weather. Once they bloom the street comes to life as pink trees line the street for about 5 blocks. Almost no car drives through at this time since so many people are walking or biking through the street taking in the beauty. Along the street there are many bars, stores, and coffee shops. Madame cafe has adorable outdoor seating along the street with colorful benches and friendly servers. Grab a seat in the outdoor patio and order a chocolate fondue with fresh seasonal fruit. Take as many pictures as possible of the cherry blossoms because they sadly only last about 1–2 weeks or until the next big rain which knocks off all the breath-taking flowers.
After wandering Alstadt, head back towards the university and close to the Rhine River. A beer garden sits along the Rhine over looking walk way. Grab a beer and sit among the local Germans. Tea, coffee, and food is also available.
If time permits, you must stop by the Haribo store near the Munster. Haribo made my Hans Riego Sr. and founded in Bonn produces the name Haribo. These Haribo taste especially delicious and different than Haribo you can buy in America. Phantasia mix is suggested.
For dinner, head back in to the city center and find your way to Friedensplatz square. Along the square a typical German restaurant is suggested for a real German meal, perhaps Brauhaus Bönnsch. Unique to this restaurant is their in house brewery making their own beer. Several German meals are expected to be found on the menu — schnitzel, bratwurst, flammkuchen, curry wurst, or potatoes. Here is what TripAdvisor has to say about it! http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187370-d960967-Reviews-Brauhaus_Bonnsch-Bonn_North_Rhine_Westphalia.html
Communication: one thing travelers need to adjust to in their German communication skills is their straight forwardness. They will speak what is on there mind so be prepared for confrontation or opinions. When walking around or on a run, people do not say hi to each other or smile at each other as Americans do. Most useful phrases “Guten Morgen” — good morning, “Halo” is hello. “Danke Schön” — thank you very much “bitte Schön” — your welcome. “Bitte” is a very common phrase that can mean your welcome, or if used at the end of a sentence can mean “please” or if someone is speaking to you and you do not understand or hear you say “bitte” and is like “what” or “again please”. Some other important phrases are “Tschuss” which is a way to say goodbye whether in a shop or leaving a group. Usually said in a high pitch and normal among a younger crowd. Older people usually say “Ciao” instead but it depends on the environment and context. When ordering food use the phrase “Ich mochte … (Then say your order), bitte” and when you want to pay say “Ich mochte zahlen, bitte” — I would like the check please” and the most fun word to use ever is “entshuldigung” which means “excuse me!”
Americans are also known for talking loud so be respectful in public places such as transportation and keep your voices low. It is best to ask first if someone speaks English rather than assuming they speak English (most Bonners -local Bonn people- speak English but they find it rude if you assume they do so ask first!)
“Hauptbahnhof” is a very important phrase to know in Bonn it means “central station” as in the main strain for metros, buses and trains. Many people refer to it and is important to know its location.
I hope by reading this blog, that you have been inspired enough to book your next family vacation to Bonn, Germany. You now know how to speak to Germans without being rude, follow in Beethoven’s footsteps in his birth city, and eat an amazing flammkuchen. Just imagine the knowledge and rich culture you can immerse yourself in! Who wouldn’t want to visit one of Germany’s oldest cities?
In order to write this blog, I interviewed Allyson Bernardy, a junior business marketing major at the University of Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles. She is currently studying abroad in Bonn. I also gained my research through the Wikipedia pages of the University of Bonn, Ludwig van Beethoven. I also visited the Bonn, Germany information page (http://www.bonn-international.org/city-of-bonn/history.html).