Monday, 16 September 2013

The weekend of... beethoven and dragons.

This weekend we headed to Bonn again to Tante Ursel and Onkel Arno, who invited us to visit them one last time before we leave.

So, Saturday we hopped on the train to see what we'd get up to. Unfortunately it was raining when we arrived, so we couldn't go walking in mountains too much as they had planned, but instead we headed to Beethoven's birthplace.

I love the old streets in Bonn, and wandering through them with Tante Ursel beside me under the umbrella and Malcolm and Onkel Arno walking behind, was fun. Along the way we chatted and caught up, until we got to the house in which Beethoven had been born and lived for 4 years. It's a pity it was only opening later so we couldn't go in, but who would have thought that behind these doors, in this little house, the little boy who must have run around on the street we were standing on, would turn out to be such a great musician and composer.


From there, we walked through the university and then to their apartment where I had my wet shoes whipped off my feet and provided with warm socks and even Onkel Arno's enormously fluffy slippers. Tante Ursel also lent me some walking shoes, and when they were quite satisfied that my feet were not going to turn to iceblocks, we were off again.

We stopped by the museum called Haus der Geschichte, which documents Germany's history since the world war. We went through quickly because there was other stuff we were heading to, but it was really interesting and it was extra-interesting going through with two people who've actually LIVED that history. Onkel Arno was 7 years old when the second war ended, and it was a different perspective hearing how he really enjoyed playing in the rubble and on the tanks, and hearing him sigh as he recounted how the women worked so hard to clear the debris.



Files and files of missing men cataloged in these boxes.

These kids were looking for their parents.

The museum covers the more recent political side and various campaigns. 

Toys for little ones and big ones.
The hippie-movement.

We definitely could have spent more time there, and I'd love to have heard more stories, but, we left to go up to the Drakensfels. It's a mountain in the Siebensgebirge mountain range, where rock used to be quarried (rock from here was used in Cologne's cathedral), and where one finds the Drakensfels castle remains. The castle was damaged in the 30 years war and never rebuilt and has eroded due to the quarrying. The name seems to come from the legend that it was here that Seigfried slayed the dragon Fafnir, though there are various other legends about the dragon and this rock.

We parked the car and then took a little train up, which was a whole lot better than walking in the drizzle all the way up.


Onkel Arno wanted to sit in front where him and Malcolm would be able to see everything, and chat to the train driver. 

Soon enough, we were at the top of the Drakenfels... and WHAT a view. The mist just made the thought of dragons in the mountains jump to mind, and the Rhein winding along below was also just beautiful.







We had lunch up on the mountain, enjoyed the view some more, and then got back on the train to go halfway back down to the Schloss Drakensburg. It's a beautiful little castle/mansion, built in only two years, by a rich banker whose girlfriend or mistress apparently lived there, but who never actually got to live there himself. Since then, it's been utilised as a few things such as a Nazi-elite school and, after the US occupied it, a refugee camp.

It really is beautiful inside, and it would be absolutley amazing to have the view it has. We walked around inside and outside on the terrace, and just everywhere one looks it's beautiful and full of detail.













A wedding had just finished at the castle, and the couple were wandering around taking photos - I'm sure they'll have breath-taking photos here! You can see them in the picture above right!

After exploring the castle, we walked down to a reptile place to see the legendary dragon.
We found him.

They have a whole lot of reptiles there, and although it was fun, I don't usually enjoy reptiles, and the humidity and heat in their enclosures usually just make me feel sick. But, we saw some snakes and alligators, and this little dragon... 


We continued our walk down the hill, enjoying the view all the way down. 


Once we got to the bottom, we went back to the apartment and had coffee and cake. SUCH good cake... Tante Ursel's baking is just about as great as mum's ;) And, of course, there was loads of cream to put on top. We stayed a while longer, enjoying conversation and Malcolm managing to talk about his PhD project and other technical topics in German, which impressed us all. His vocabulary astounds me. 

It was such a lovely, busy day with them, and next time we see them it will be moving-day! Da da da dummmmm! 

Yesterday we felt like we really just wanted to enjoy Koln and each others company, so we hung out in the Station and got some pastries and coffee which we ate and drank on the Cathedral steps, before we went for a walk through Schildergasse. The shops are all closed late on a Sunday, but window shopping was fun, and wandering arm in arm with Malcolm always makes my heart lift. 

I hope you had a good weekend? Adventurous, peaceful... however it was I hope it was fun! 

24 comments:

  1. Bonn & Drakensburg both look beautiful - I am a little disappointed because I turned down the opportunity to go to Bonn a couple of months ago and it looks like I missed out!

    Also, WOW at the dragon. Gosh, Germany is just full of hidden, awesome surprises right?

    Kate | Diaries of an Essex Girl

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    1. Aw you did miss out! Bonn really is beautiful, the trees lining the streets do it for me :D
      The stone dragon or the real one? The stone dragon isn't as ancient as it looks, I don't think, but the real little one was kind of cute :D

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  2. I love that mansion, it's so gothic!

    Louisa @ My Family & Abruzzo

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    1. Me too! We were getting inspiration for 'one day' when we have a castle on the hill ;)

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  3. the archetecture looks amazing, and the yard!! so dreamy!!

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    1. It really is like stepping into somewhere completely different... I could imagine living there - being rescued from a turret and all that ;)

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  4. Wow! Such beautiful sights! You must be having a ball! So nice to see you are so happy! xxxxxxx

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    1. Hey Heidi :)
      The sights are certainly beautiful hey, and it really is so much fun :)

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  5. You guys are having such grand adventures!! Getting to see so many little bits of history all the time! How fun! I think the castle is beautiful and I like the moss-covered old dragon.

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    1. It does seem like quite a grand adventure, doesn't it? I wish it always felt like it, although we are loving the fact that there's history around every corner and under every rock!
      We had just paid our entrance fee and wound through this dark, uneven passage (not fun for older people afraid of breaking their hips), so coming into a clearing to a big stone dragon was actually a let-down because from there you go through a door back to where it starts, follow a sign, and then get to the reptile house. It just didn't seem like potentially-broken-hip worth it ;)

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  6. Wow, that view is gorgeous!
    http://liveitinerantly.com

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    1. I agree! And every room in the house has an incredible view of the area!

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  7. Erica, I'm so jealous of all the awesome places you're getting to visit!!!! :-D

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    1. It really is a privilege! And it's great because Bonn is only 25 minutes away by train :D

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  8. This looks so fun! What an incredible museum-my inner history nerd is dying to visit! Seems like a super weekend :)

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    1. It was! The museum really was very interesting, and bigger than I'd thought - there was stuff I had no clue about and lots of different aspects, especially political.

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  9. how cool you can just "hop a train" and do this!!!? you are going to be so happy you took this adventure in the future and by future i mean if and when you ever decide to have kids :)

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    1. It is right?! SO many people have echoed your sentiments to us, and it's true - when the opportunity to live in Germany for a while came up, along with all the risks and adventures it might result in, we knew it was kind of now-or-never because although kids aren't the end, they do complicate things ;)

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  10. this post reminds me of touring museums in italy, and then walking outside and wondering why i was indoors for so long -- the natural landscape/architecture/sunlight is more beautiful than anything in the museum. looking at the pictures of the mountains and the winding Rhein is just so lovely. you're a lucky girl :)

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    1. I realise I'm not a great museum-goer... I tend to get quite bored. This one was pretty engaging though, and the fact that we breezed through helped peak my interest because I didn't get the chance to get bored! I'd usually also much rather be outside, although the rainy and misty weather meant we didn't think we'd get a view, but when the mist lifted every now and then, it really was spectacular!

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  11. Looks like so much fun!!!

    Win a pair of baby moccs!

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  12. Replies
    1. It is a very pretty castle - and the view!!!!

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