21st Century
The Future
World Travel
Books & Film
Original Fiction
Opinion & Lifestyle
Politics & Living
Film Space
Movies in depth
Kid's Books
Reviews & stories

The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Bonn

Bonn the beautiful
Marianne de Nazareth

Climate Change has become the fire in my journalist belly and even though travellers from Germany were being quarantined on their return to India, I still went ahead with plans to attend the UNFCCC Climate Change negotiations in early July in Bonn. Taking a nail biting flight by Air France out to Dusseldorf via Paris, it was a scary ride from Paris, as the plane was hit by technical snags for over four hours. Finally we were given a third plane which brought us quite uneventfully into Dusseldorf.

This was my second trip to Bonn and this time round, the UNFCCC outdid itself by housing us in the fabulous heritage Hotel Loreley, on the banks of the river Rhine. As we were shown into our rooms, Laura a co-journalist from Argentina squealed with delight racing into my room saying," Did you see the view from our window?"

It was a view worth all the effort we made to travel those exhausting 12 plus hours to come to Bonn and attend the Climate Change negotiations. It was a view I never tired of for the entire duration of the week I stayed in the room. It was a view that soothed me every evening when I came home from the disappointing negotiations, where countries just played games, making no commitment towards our beautiful planet. Differing shades of green in layers, on the thickly forested hill slopes stretched as far as the eye could see and suddenly in the middle of all that vegetation the delightful spires of a castle appeared stretching out into the blue sky. Blackbirds trilled in the canopy of trees with their fresh spring foliage along the walkway of the Rhine and red geraniums flowered in picture book Bier gartens as I took an evening walk in the bright sunshine, we were lucky to experience on occasion. The beauty of Bonn dulled my senses to the gloom that Climate Change portends, but hopefully governments wake up and realise that fighting about the nitty gritties may spell disaster in the long run for life itself on earth.

On my last trip I had been disconcerted when I was told at the Kanzler hotel reception that, yes it was Germany, but no, one does not get the Cuckoo clock all over Germany. It is restricted to the Black Forest. My siblings were keen on clocks after having envied mine which I had bought on an earlier trip when I went to visit my aunt in Bavaria. My editor has a penchant for collecting picture pc’s from various countries, so I went in search of one in the lane, with shops behind the hotel. Picking up one from a stand outside the shop, with the Loreley figuring prominently on it, I walked in to pay my 40 cents for the card. Just at that very minute the hundreds of cuckoo clocks in the shop began a veritable chorus of Cuckoo’s! I stood still with shock and delight, it was serendipity indeed to stumble on this treasure house of clocks. But how was one going to carry home not one, but two clocks all the way back to India?

The next day we were taken on a field trip to the Deutsche Welle radio station and from there I was able to buy a sturdy backpack, in which two cuckoo clocks and a great big heavy beer glass fitted perfectly. You will wonder at my family’s fixation on Cuckoo clocks. Once you own one you will understand why we love them to distraction. And they are not heavy to carry home, box and all.

Bonn was beautiful in the spring, but it was a weird sort of spring, with unexpected squally rain showers and overcast skies for most of the week. However we were blessed with a couple of days of sunshine and when that is announced by the weather man, the Germans all come out in strength to sit out in their cafes and bistros and of course fill up the Bier gartens! Bus loads of tourists come in from The Netherlands and cruise up and down the Rhine on trips and of course are game to try out the local cuisine in the cafes along the river. We had a favourite haunt for delicious Italian gelato. And, being a fruit freak I would buy bags of cherries and nectarines to devour instead of meals from the Kaizer supermarket near the hotel.
I went off to see the Drachenfels one day which literally translates: Dragon Rock. It has a historic cog railway and tourists flock from all over the world to experience it. The cog railway leading to the top of the rock was begun in 1883. The station is called the "Bergbahnen im Siebengebirge AG" (Mountain railway in the seven hills). Take this cog railway to the top of the hills and enjoy nature and history all rolled into one.

The Climate Change negotiations being held by the UNFCCC in the Maritim Hotel had us journalists on the go for most of the day. Migration, CDM, LULUCF, GHG’s all these ackronyms and more filled our minds for the whole day as we chased our delegates and our stories. However once we had collected our material and dashed off our stories to our countries on the hundreds of computers provided, we were free to wander around the town and enjoy the sights.

Most evenings however I liked sitting on the little wooden benches along the Rhine watching the cruise ships and the ferries pass by. As I ate my sandwich perky little sparrows cheekily came up begging for crumbs from my sandwich which I cheerfully shared with them. Every once in a while the tram would rumble by which would take us into the city centre if we cared to have a walk about.

Germany is picture book perfect and for a nature lover like me, the flowers and the scented air made my week seem almost too perfect to be real. But one can see Climate Change has the Germans worried as well, talk to an old timer and he will only want to talk about the upside down weather like the shopkeeper who sold me the Cuckoo clocks did.

© Marianne de Nazareth June 2009
mde.nazareth at

More Comment


© Hackwriters 1999-2009 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility - no liability accepted by or affiliates.