Sunday, 29 March 2009

Beethoven in Bonn; Chocolate in Cologne

It's the end of my first week of holidaying in Bonn, and it's been pretty busy. There have been quite a few trips to and from school and kindergarten (both short walks away) and many of our days have been dictated by the timing of the 'school run'. Having said that, mum and I took a day to explore the heart of Bonn on Thursday, and we kept the kids out of school yesterday to spend time doing something nice (we went to a nature museum in the morning).

Since one of my main reasons for coming over here was to spend time with the kids, who I've missed terribly since they moved here, I've been happy to spend the days doing 'normal' stuff -- reading them stories, drawing pictures with them, going for walks and rides on the many paths in the parkland along the banks of the Rhine (at our doorstep here), playing in playgrounds . . . The weather here has been pretty cold though (~4-6 degrees) and rainy at times, so we haven't always been able to get outside with them.

We have, however, managed to do a few 'touristy' things. Mum and I walked along the Rhine into Bonn city centre (about 5km) and spent a lovely day trundling through the plazas and laneways of the old city, which is all pedestrian only. I don't think we really felt we were in Europe until doing this! One can never underestimate the power of architecture, a few statues and an ancient Roman arch. We ate lunch in a cafe overlooking a thoroughfare, and marvelled at the number of different coats and umbrellas on passers-by. One of Bonn's major claims to fame is as the birthplace of Beethoven, and they have created a museum out of the gorgeous little house in which this great event took place. We both agreed that the little three-storey house, with its uneven floors and intricate slate roof, was the star of the show. I purchased a CD recording of a couple of Beethoven sonatas played on Beethoven's own violin and a similar antique piano, which has turned out to be quite lovely!

Today (Saturday) we all went to Cologne for the day. Because we can't all fit in the car, G and I took the kids on the train, while mum and S took the car and met us at 'the Dom', Cologne's famous cathedral. The day, which started out promisingly with sunny blue skies, turned bitter mid-morning, and we were thankful to get inside the massive church. The Dom is very impressive, with spectacular stained glass windows and several chapels. The kids were probably a little bored, so we didn't spend as long there as I'd have liked, but oh well. The weather was still bitter when we came out, but by the time we'd had lunch in a cafe, the sun was out again. This convinced us to walk to our next destination -- a chocolate museum.

Yes, I kid you not, we went to a chocolate museum and it was fantastic. It explored all aspects of chocolate -- the basic process of making it, the history of its consumption and discovery by the western world, where and how it's produced around the world today, who consumes the most per capita (the Swiss at >10kg . . . Australian consumption is a modest 5.6kg, which was almost the lowest), how it's been marketed over the years, and insights into the life and working conditions of cocoa bean farmers, mostly in developing countries. (In fact 75% of cocoa bean farmers have never even tasted chocolate.) To top this all off, it had a fully working Lindt chocolate factory, which featured and explained the process step by step, from mixing raw ingredients to moulding and packaging. You could buy bags of the chocolate produced in the on-site factory (and we did). They also had a massive chocolate fountain, which carries 200kg of chocolate, and provided samples on wafers. It was a complete choc-fest. The kids went home by car, leaving mum and I to linger on in the cafe and eat choco duo torte with coffee (or in mum's case, hot chocolate), and then to go mad in the chocolate shop. I was completely taken with the way they do Easter here, so I bought a heap of Easter chocolates, along with some 100g bars for general consumption. In fact, I spent 50 euro (~$100) on chocolate! (Yes, perhaps a tad excessive. Oh well.) It was a good day.


  1. Thanks for the update! I've been wondering what you've been doing, especially as I've been working on a blog post for a couple of days about your POV issues. Hope you don't mind, but it just brought up the whole idea of scope, which I'd never thought about in terms of POV before.

    I've been to the Cologne Cathedral -- there's something really sacred there. Can't remember what though... But I didn't get to any chocolate factory! Lucky you.

    And while I don't advocate not writing on a regular basis -- you're only there for a little while, so don't beat yourself up if you don't get any done. Enjoy yourself, and enjoy spending the time with family. Sounds like you are, anyway...

  2. yes, well I live in hope that I might be able to get some done, but I have a work story to do as well, which sort of takes priority . . . and it's hard enough to find a moment to do that!

    Hmm, I guess I can expect some extra visitors to my blog after your POV post!