Doms, Road Sodas, and the River Rhine (Bonn)

Trip Start Jun 15, 2009
Trip End Dec 20, 2009

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Gustav-Stressemann-Institiut (GSI)

Flag of Germany  , North Rhine-Westphalia,
Thursday, June 25, 2009

Well, I guess my trip to Bonn and Cologne (Köln) was my first time "traveling" around Europe, since I hadn't been outside of the Frankfurt am Main area since I've been here.  Its not just the cities that are exciting, its the way you get there....trains!  Maybe its because my trip followed the Rhine up to Bonn and was incredibly beautiful, but it's just so convienient and easy to hop onto a train for a few hours and end up in a new city or even country. 

So, as I said, my trip began with the train ride up to Bonn on Thursday morning.  We traveled along the Rhine seeing all the towns on the river and wineries clinging to the cliffs on either bank.  I got into Bonn around noon and checked into the conference center where the meeting was being held for all the RISE professional scholarship holders.  After luch and a few meetings we visited the Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, which was a museum covering the German history since the end of WWII.  The museum and the tour guide was very good and it was interesting to see that piece of history from the German perspective.  After dinner a group of us went further north to Köln to see the massive cathedral or Dom.  We stayed for about an hour walking around the city with some biers and checking out the other churches and sitting along the Rhine.  Another very good thing about Germany is the lack of open container laws.  As a result you can buy a couple bottles of bier and enjoy your drink while walking around the city or are riding the train.  Unfortunately, the Dom was closed due to a concert and we couldn't see the inside.
The next day, we were split up into groups to visit different company sites near Bonn.  I was in the Bayer group (the others were Henkel and Ford), and the company site was pretty much a small town in itself.  Bayer is associated with aspirin mainly, but they also make a lot of plastics and polymers that are the basis for pretty much any product you can think of (they make the plastic for Legos... so it goes that a lot of thier products don't bear the name Bayer).  They also have a crop science and life science division, which we learned about on our tour.  Unfortunately, our group missed the tour of Brühl castle since the company tour was so long.  Back in Bonn we ate at the Bahnhofchen biergarden restaurant along the Rhine.  I have to say, the best part was the unlimited free bier that came with dinner. 
On our last day we took a cruise on the River Rhine to the old medieval village, Linz.  After the cruise back to Bonn, I decided to stop off at Köln again to see inside the Dom.  I thought the outside was impressive on Thursday, but the inside was simply stunning with its stained glass windows and we clmbed all 509 steps to the top about 100 meters high (took about 10-15 minutes to climb it all!). 
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