What’s typically associated with ‘Germany’? The capital city? Berlin is, without a doubt, a trendy and vibrant place for a city break. Perhaps, the Black Forest, with its endless stretches of ancient trees and picturesque villages. But who’s heard of a city called Bonn?
This was where I went for a couple of days in late September. As a native German speaker, my view of cultural life in Germany is of course, different from most tourists. But being a tourist in your own country is an absolute breeze, leaving you time to discover a variety of beautiful places, especially in Germany which is known for its rich cultural history.
Bonn probably isn’t your first choice when it comes to a weekend getaway, but it certainly does have its charm. Just like Durham, Bonn has a well-established university, which recently made it to the top list of best German universities. Here, the wonderful ambience made me feel at home, especially when strolling through the Hofgarten, a park near the university buildings or enjoying the lovely panoramic view of the river at the Alter Zoll, just like all those other students!
Like other modern German cities, Bonn is also characterised by its multiculturalism, which is often overlooked when thinking about Germany. Wandering through the city centre, I spotted Turkish fast food restaurants, found Russian and Polish snacks in the supermarkets and later in the evening, I went to the Irish pub for a night out. I was also able to explore cultural diversity in the Haus der Geschichte (House of History), one of the museums on the Museumsmeile, an impressive strip of five museums. This museum specialises in the history of post-war Germany to present-day Germany, I was certainly impressed by the fascinating exhibitions and the great attention to detail. I wandered through the section about the last days of the Second World War and its aftermath, which I found rather ‘‘chilling’’. Then, I listened to a debate which was recorded in the 1960’s in the Bundestag, before viewing the special exhibition on Brexit and British-German relations – a very controversial topic but I’d highly recommend it!
Bonn is situated in the Rhineland, a densely populated region of Western Germany which is perfect if you want to explore other places worth visiting, such as Cologne. I took the opportunity to visit the historic city of Cologne for a day, which is just a short train journey away. Cologne is famous for two things, such as the centuries-old cathedral which towers over one of the central city squares and the Carnival of Bonn. Sadly, I was unable to attend the carnival as I was there at the wrong moment. Nevertheless, I explored the magnificent cathedral with spires and arches which are built in a Gothic style, coloured by age with its distinctive dark colour and is probably one of the most notable types of German architecture. Before returning home, I also had the chance to explore the city centre of Cologne. Although it was a short trip, it was certainly enough to recommend this city to anyone with an interest in languages and cultures. Bonn is an underrated German destination, if you need ideas for new travel destinations– take a trip to Bonn!