Bonn always resonated in my mind with spy exchange, Cold War scenarios sen at the War Museum in Ottawa when Warsaw Pact tanks were taking over Western Europe in 24 hours.
I experienced quite the opposite : immense sadness. Not misery, poverty, decay, just dull sadness. Uninteresting faces, uninteresting buildings, hibernation in august. Not a recommended stop on your itinerary.
A romanesque Munster Dom with a cloister, 5 min from the Bahnhof deserve your attention.
A bit further, you can find the Hofgarten with its alleys worth of Last Year in Marienbad. As I left the Munster Dom, a pseudo-gothic church draw my attention, across the Hofgarten. The actual building was a 1954 reconstruction. Outside it has a gothic allure, but inside it’s a bit more daring.
As you walk from the Hofgarten to Juridicum and Adenauer Alee you might notice a few interesting buildings.
On Konrad Adenauer Alee were the important buildings of the former West Germany. Nothing to write home about. More of a suburban atmosphere. The administration must feel traumatised after moving to Berlin, which seem busy as New Delhi, in comparison.
Another worthy stop in Bonn is the Kunst museum. Good collection of modern and contemporary German art: Beys, Fichly & Weiss…. But, in this museum you feel the Cold War is not over. Museum security tends to be rather paranoid in Germany ( a guy with wooden heels followed me 3 meters behind in Stadtmuseum Dusseldorf, banging his beet like a woodpecker). Not to mention the arrogance of the cloakroom attendants in the National Gallery in Berlin or the coldness of the cashiers in the Pinakothek der Moderne Munich. In the Bonn Kunstmuseum you are at fault all the time: my small shoulder bag was not in the right position (in fron, bitte ! not on the side). In another room, a lady saw me writing with a pen and she came to me saying I am not allowed to hold a pen in my hand, just a pencil.
In the juxtaposed Kunsthalle (2 minor exhibitions not worth mentioning) I wanted to see the famous biodiversity plain transfered on the roof by Helen & Newton Harrison, two artists that were part of my MA research. No, you can’t go without a ticket ! I go again to the ticket booth : No, kein Ticket mehr, no more ticket, finished ! (two hours before closing time). I decided to face the adversities and take the elevator to the roof. No, stop ! No ticket, no access ! They started to look for someone who understood English and my request for access as a journalist. Finally, someone handed me an extra ticket and things went back to normal, I mean the personnel didn’t have to think and make a decision in a unexpected situation. No risk here, just human programmed to do tasks.