Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bonn and Beethoven

Bonn, Germany, has a lot going for it as Beethoven's home, as a busy stop on the Rhine and as a vibrant city.

Too bad my visit was such a fleeting one all we could do was lunch, walk to the house Beethoven was born in and hurry through the town center to catch a ferry across and down the Rhine to Koenigswinter.

From its beginnings as a Roman camp in the second century, Bonn became the residence of the Princes Elector of Cologne, a romantic university town and, following the massive destruction of World War II, the Federal Capitol of West Germany. 

Lunch was at Brauhaus Boennsch at Sterntorbrucke 4, where we had an excellent meal and some of the very good Bonn beer.

Tip: Restrooms are down 15 steps from the dining room.

Then it was off to old town and Beethoven's birthplace in December, 1717. Many tourists walk by, take a picture and assume they have seen Beethovenhaus. Not.

Beethoven's family lived in the much smaller house in the courtyard. His father, a singer and alcoholic, lost his voice from drink and decided early on that his son Ludwig would be a musical prodigy.

The small house (no photos allowed) contains his last two piano fortes, his viola, the largest collection of his manuscripts and a variety of ear trumpets (he was deaf by 30) in addition to his death mask and wisps of his hair.

[Don't you know some music-loving, conniving, cloning-obsessed geneticist would like to get some of those! Sounds like the plot for a thriller, doesn't it?]

When Beethoven died from lead poisoning at the age of 57, more than 30,000 people attended his funeral a mere three days later.

Warning: You'll go up two flights of narrow, twisting stairs. If it is too much, stay in the street level gift shop and listen to some of his glorious music.

With a boat to catch, we hurried through the pedestrian way, past the central marketplace

and old city hall

to the park that fronts the Prince Elector's palace

and the old city walls

to the Rhine and our appropriately named boat, Beethoven.

Bonn now has a place on my bucket list as a place to return.


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