A 24-year-old professional translator, Howes feels Germany’s former capital is sometimes overlooked.
What do you like about living in Bonn?
It’s a very comfortable, small, compact city. Everything is so near, I can walk to any of the standard shops within about two minutes. It’s such a relaxed, laid-back place. There’s also a lot of countryside around Bonn. It’s based on the Rhine, with the city on one side, and mountains and hills on the other.
But Bonn is also more than just a sleepy backwater, isn’t it?
It used to be a very important city when it was the capital of West Germany. There are still a lot of impressive former government buildings.
It’s also Beethoven’s birthplace, which is the city’s other claim to fame. You can visit his birth house, the Beethoven orchestra is based in Bonn, and there are lots of concerts.
What is your favourite local festival or event?
The Klangwelle, which is part of the annual Beethoven Festival, is really cool. The evening takes place around the Beethoven statue on the Münsterplatz. They set up a huge line of fountains, which are sprayed up into the air, and they light them with lasers which match the music. It starts off with Beethoven, moves onto other classical music, and ends with pop music.
What would be your personal city highlight?
I love the opera house in Bonn, and really discovered the opera here in Bonn. The last thing I saw was The Marriage of Figaro. The Bonn Haus der Geschichte is the best museum in the city. It is packed with information and material about modern German history since the Second World War: it is very informative and has lots of interesting display items, like video clips and newspaper cuttings.
For me, though, the real highlight of the city has to be the Rhine itself, it’s just really beautiful.
What is your favourite way to enjoy the nearby countryside?
I go for runs along the Rhine, and everyone goes for nice walks. You can also go to nearby Oelberg, where you can go hiking. One of the best views of Bonn is from the Venusberg, a hill overlooking the city from the other side of the river.
Where do you go for a meal out?
There’s this really typical German restaurant and wine bar called Rietbrocks Weinhaus. It’s not at all touristy and is not in the centre. The owners know everyone, and you go for the wine as much as anything else.
How about a for drink?
My favourite place is Pawlow, a very relaxed bar in the studenty part of Bonn. It’s very small inside, so there are always crowds standing outside, even in the winter.
In the summer, there’s a really nice beer garden on the Rhine called Am alten Zollen. It used to be a customs fort, in the days when you had to pay to get from one section of the Rhine to the next, hence the name.
What do you do to relax in the city?
Brunch on Sunday mornings is a big thing in Bonn, as it is all over Germany. One place I like is called Roses – they offer as much food as you can eat for a fixed price. My favourite is Bahnhöfchen. It’s right on the river, and you can see all of Bonn from it. That is very close to the Doppelkirche, which is another local highlight – it is basically two churches on top of one another. It’s nice to go to a service and then have brunch out.
Tell us something about Bonn for locals in the know.
In September you can go for hikes in the hills and taste the wine being grown there straight from the vineyards. There are beer gardens at the base of the vineyards and you can sample the produce directly on the spot.
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Interview conducted by Pippa Wentzel