Now that I have fully recovered from the fun I can tell you all about it. This is going to be a very me-centered report, so if you get tired of my big fat ego, go eat some turkey and come back later.
5:30 a.m. Saturday: my alarm clock went off and I staggered out of bed all tousled and bleary-eyed, wondering if it was going to be worth it. I am not
a morning person. My mornings start at 10 a.m. when I reach full consciousness. Until then I'm on auto-pilot. Since I had packed the night before and organized my stuff, all I had to do, though, was shower, dress and beautify myself before we all hopped in the car. Mr. M dropped me off at he Hauptbahnhof Hannover
(main train station) on his way to the flea market with the boys.
The only train combination I could get to Bonn had a mere 7 minutes between connections in Cologne. Keeping Deutsche Bahn's track record in mind I wondered if I'd be able to leap from one train to the next within that time frame. My worries were unfounded. It wasn't the first train that was late, it was the second, so I ended up having lots of time and was the last person to arrive in Bonn.
The first thing I usually do when I arrive somewhere is to get good and lost. This time I got lost before I even made it out of the train station. Was that "turn right and head for the coffee shop" or "turn left and head for the coffee shop"? I couldn't remember and ended up somewhere completely different from where I was supposed to be. I'm thinking of having a navigation system permanently affixed to my forehead for occasions like these. My cell phone had to do this time, however, and I called J who appeared out of nowhere and rescued me.
So there we were, all 14 of us (Jennifer first arrived on Saturday evening) gathered together. I knew Jen and Sparky, J, and the Haddock family from previous meet-ups but Belinda, Hamish, Andrea, Heather and D, and Christina and Rainer were new to me.
What a lovely bunch of people! Everyone seemed to get along really well and there was MUCH laughter and joking and very little whining going on. I think we all enjoyed hearing about each other's experiences in Germany and the "where I'm from/why I'm here/where I'm going" stories were fascinating. All sorts of different personalities but all connected by that common "expat thing".
After those who were staying overnight checked into the hotel, we all spent some time walking around Bonn, which is known as "The City of Beethoven" since the great man himself was born there in 1770. I'll have to admit that although I'm usually very good at multi-tasking, I cannot sightsee and talk at the same time. Talking was my top priority on the weekend, so I really didn't take in all that much of the city, other than to note that it had a very cozy feel and was a scenic place that I'd like to visit again.
who was paying attention and knows what this is?
I heard rumours of rogue bloggers doing strange things to total strangers but I wasn't witness to this and can't report on the naughtiness. Hamish or Belinda could tell you more, I think.
Lunch took place at a German restaurant where Beethoven was said to have hung out with one of his girlfriends. We must have been sitting at their favourite table, 'cause I was definitely feeling the love.
Belinda departed right after lunch, claiming an uncontrollable urge to buy some cheese at the local open air market as well as having "stuff to do" (knitting!), and the three Haddocks had a family function to attend further south so our numbers were somewhat reduced at that point.
It was quite a grey, dreary day, but that didn't stop us from walking along the Rhine River for a bit. I loved being near the water and the fall colours were beautiful despite the drizzle.
Bonn is home to over a dozen museums, like this one, the Museum Alexander Koenig
, one of Germany's most important natural history museums.
We didn't visit there, but we did go to the Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
(House of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany) which was very well done and documented Germany's history in a user-friendly, understandable way. But as with all things, when you've had enough, you've had enough. It was way too warm inside the museum, and the ladies of the group were done at about the 3/4 mark. After watching Sparky follow through on the "I dare you to lick that post-war Mercedes" challenge (you'll have to ask him about that one!) the female bloggers decided to go upstairs to the cafe and have a drink while the menfolk kept on going to the bitter end.
The afternoon went by quickly and I got to know quite a bit about my fellow bloggers and their "significant others". Soon it was time for dinner and we headed to a Mexican restaurant back in town where our tour guide J had made reservations. Nice atmosphere (except for the cigarette smoke), good food, great people. We had a LOT of fun and the conversation covered a wide-range of topics. Going to a blogger meet-up is an education in itself, I tell ya.
The smoky environment eventually got to be a bit too much for some of us and Andrea made an early departure. Surprise guest Jennifer from Cologne joined us mid-evening and fit right in with the crowd. We made our exit soon after the meal and looked for another place to hang out because it was still early and we still had lots to talk about. Christina and Rainer decided not to stay and left for Rainer's brother's house in Bonn, so it was down to Jen and Sparky, Hamish, Heather and D, Jennifer, J and me. We found a cafe where we could sit outside under the heaters and have a nightcap before seeing off those who were headed back to Cologne.
So it was just Jen and Sparky, J and me back at the hotel and I kept expecting Jen to yell "Pyjama party in J's room!" Much to J's relief, that never happened and we all retired to our separate quarters and locked our doors for the night. I have no idea what the others did, but I brushed my teeth, put on my jammies, watched about 10 minutes of TV and then passed out on the bed until morning. I had been up since 5:30 a.m., you'll remember.
One of the high points of the hotel was the sink in my bathroom. I liked it so much I almost took it home with me. Just look at that colour! Want to make me happy? Buy me a green sink!
On Sunday the four hotel-overnighters met Christina and Rainer for a brunch buffet at a trendy restaurant/club on the Rhine. All the cool kids were there and it was great pretending to be hip for a couple of hours. After we ate, Christina and Rainer left for good and Jen and Sparky went to make their mark on Amsterdam, leaving J and I to fend for ourselves. My train didn't leave for another few hours and J had no desire to return back to boring ol' Koblenz quite yet so we decided to walk around for a bit and see some more of Bonn. The museum we had planned to go to was closed, but we finally ended up at the Poppelsdorfer Schloss
(Poppelsdorfer Palace)and discovered that the Minerologisches Museum
, the Minerological Museum, was open to the public.
The exhibit of precious stones, meteorites, crystals etc. was right up my alley and brought out my esoteric side, which I think confused poor J somewhat. He now knows that if you've got a rose quartz in your pocket and an amethyst under your pillow, you're set for life. And we won't even mention the sea salt purification ritual, right J?
There was still a bit of time to kill, so we chose a place close to the train station to have a final cup of tea and a chat. Like we hadn't all been talking non-stop all weekend. I really should get out more often.
But this weekend reminded me of the reasons I don't
get out more often - all the smoke. Smoky restaurants, smoky cafes and bars - not really my thing since cigarette smoke causes me actual physical discomfort. Despite sitting in the non-smoking section of the train going home, I spent four hours breathing in the fumes from the smokers' section which was only separated by a glass partition with a door in it. People were constantly going in and out so the partition was basically useless. Oh well. My eyes stopped burning yesterday and I'm not coughing any more so I think I'll live, but pleasant it was not. Get with it, Germany.
However, the weekend's positives far outweighed that one negative point and yes, it was
worth it. We really missed all those who couldn't attend and next time there will be no excuse