Siegburg/Bonn: The Very Best Welcome
November 6, 2016
Alexandra (age 9) provides the very best welcome. As I step off the train at Siegburg/Bonn, I am greeted by her colorful, speckled, illustrated and thoughtful drawing. In bold letters she wrote, “Travel with Jan: Germany 2016.”
My good friend Rainer and his wife Alena are perfect hosts. I am treated as a member of their family with specialty food, lively conversation and generous hospitality.
And according to Rainer and Alena, their daughter Alexandra is normally shy with strangers. Nevertheless, she bonds with me like an old friend. She sits next to me and with uninhibited little-girl charm and enthusiasm, takes me page by page through her photo albums from recent family trips abroad.
With equal charm, enthusiasm, intelligence and pride, over the weekend, Rainer drives me to several of his favorite sights in this region of the Rhine.
We stroll around the spacious grounds of the 18th Century Schloss Augustusburg, a bright palace of Rococo design, and the Schloss Falkenlust, an adjoining hunting lodge. A UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The small town of Oberdollendorf (pop 5362) sits in a valley surrounded by glorious gold fall foliage provided by the vineyards on the hillsides.
After a brief visit to the mountainside Steigenberger Grand Hotel Petersberg that overlooks the Rhine, we hop aboard the ferry to cross the broad well-trafficked river.
Down river, Rainer and I tour the Memorial to Peace Museum at the Bridge at Remagen. The Ludendorff Bridge was the site of battle, blood and tragedy in March of 1945 as the Germans retreated and the American Army advanced to take possession of this vital railway crossing. On March 17, the Bridge suddenly collapsed plunging 30 American soldiers to their deaths.
The Bridge has never been rebuilt. Only the stone towers and land-based arches remain standing. The Peace Museum is housed in the western tower and displays artifacts of war and photographs of the original steel span. The most moving photo is of a German bride, her wedding dress made of parachute silk!
In the evening in the main square in the city of Bonn, the focal point is the illuminated statue of Ludwig van Beethoven. He is cloaked in bright colors and posed with all the bravado of “The Master.” His home is now a museum of course and the shop sells everything Beethoven.
I splurge on two expensive CDs. The first called “Mein Beethoven” features a jazz trio with “Variations on Ludwig van Beethoven by Dieter Ilg.” The second is “9 Symphonies” with the Marcus Schinkel Trio and the Indigo (all female) String Quartet. They perform a jazz rendition on a theme from each of the nine Beethoven symphonies.
“Is there a Senior Citizen discount?” I ask the cashier. “Nein!”
“Is there a Multiple Purchase discount?” “Nein!”
"Is there a VAT refund available?" "Nein!"
It appears that Germany is not only “Organized,” it is also “Resolute!”
Let us strike up joyful sounds,
PS Rainer schrieb mir. Er erwartet meinen veröffentlichten Bericht über das wunderbare Frühstück, das er mir jeden Tag serviert hat. Ich erklärte ihm, daß, da das Essen so besonders ist, ich es ein Geheimnis behalten werde!
PS Rainer wrote to me. He is anticipating my published report on the marvelous breakfast he served me every day. I explained to him that since the meal was so special, I will keep it a secret!