One should travel more in one’s own country. Because there are amazing things to discover. Like yesterday, when I made my long, expensive way far out west to Bonn and Cologne. I thought I was only travelling to a different part of Germany but it turned out I travelled in time as well.
My friend Maike recently moved to Bonn and this weekend, was throwing her first party. Since it is my New Year’s resolution to party more, I promised to come. They told me,Bonn was only some twenty minutes away from Cologne (not true, it takes forever to get there) and Bonn used to be the German capital. Now you are all like, “What do you mean, capital, isn’t Berlin the capital?!” Well, it is now and was then but when Germany was divided, someone decided that Bonn should be where the German government should have its seat. So from 1949 to the Nineties, Bonn was the center of power.
When I stepped off the train in Bonn, I truly felt like I had been catapulted back into just that time. It is like Bonn tries to conserve its time of importance by leaving everything as it was then. The signs in the metro – and the metro itself – look exactly like when I was 5. The logos on the signs are not even in use anymore. It is very fascinating. It is just like time travelling!
Speaking of time travelling, the first thing I thought about when I heard Bonn was of course the Haus der Geschichte, History’s House, a museum located in Bonn. I have always wanted to go there and so I rushed in there 90 minutes before they closed (I also took a major detour to go see it). Let me tell you, this museum is an excellent use of tax money. The museum is free (read: tax-financed) and there is countless museum staff everywhere. And they are even friendly when you approach them.
The museum itself is paradise for any person that cares about Germany, the past, the present or generally the world. Luckily, the Haus der Geschichte is a part of Bonn that has arrived in the 2000s which is clearly reflected in the museums forms of display. You are walked through 1945 to 2013ish and I can tell you, until 1960 I constantly had goose bumps. The original films of little children saying their names and “I am looking for my parents” from the end of the war when so many families were separated are just as touching as the posters the American allies put up, saying, “People of Berlin, the world looks to you and you are not alone, we Americans stand with you and will defend your freedom”. (During the time of the Luftbrücke when the US allies transported food into West Berlin by plane because the Russians decided to, with a blockade, try and starve West Berlin into joining socialism.) I also learned, by the way, that Sweden sent care packages with toys and food for the German children.
I think all countries’ history is interesting, but Germany’s history lies closer to my heart for patriotic reasons and because it is more intriguing as so much happened – both absolutely shocking and terrifying things and unprecedented success. The spectrum is just very large.
If you ever go to Cologne or Bonn, make sure to pay History’s House a visit. Everything in there is just so interesting!
To put it with the great German poet Schiller’s words (in my mediocre translation),
“Every day, history becomes dearer to me. I wish I had studied nothing but history for ten years, I believe I would be a whole different person”.
P.S.: I also realized on my journey that I am so much more of a train person than a car person. I am close to saying that I would rather stay home than go by car, but that might be putting a bit too drastically.