I met THIS young Englishman named Ben in Belgrade several months ago and placed him on my ‘Friends along the way‘ page. He is studying both French and German (I know, right) and is part of the ERAMAUS program. Erasmus provides opportunities for students to study or undertake a work placement abroad as part of their degree, which unsurprisingly, is super popular in over 30 countries! As such, and rather conveniently with a touch of ingenuity, Ben was able to make the most out of this university-endorsed (and partly funded!) ‘year out’ by incorporating what he was studying (languages) with his primary interest: brewing beer!
What an opportunity and what adventure for someone so young – especially coming out here to Germany practising his German and helping out a ‘start-up’ business looking to steer the locals away from the already well-established ale and entice them into their own. A lot easier said than I’d imagine. He’s been out here nearly a month and has another month left before returning to ‘student’ life back in the UK in Bristol of all places though hailing from Sheffield. He’s not particularly looking forward to returning and I completely empathise with how he is feeling and it will be tough for him to give up all that he has enjoyed (and learnt) over here.
So if you’d have told me in Serbia that I would not only be visiting Germany on my travels but visiting a city within Germany that I’d never previously heard of, well I would have never have believed you. But look how things can change – not least his hair! 🙂
Sadly due to his work commitments and my impending departure from Germany, we only had 6 or 7 hours together to explore some of the town and catch up with each others stories but some time was better than no time!
Ben, it was great to see you again and next time it’ll be in Bristol or Weston-super-Mare I’d imagine and not quite enjoying German ale on the River Rhine in 33 degree heat though huh. Boooo.
Thank you, Germany.
I want to say thank you to Germany for a number of things but two points in particular:
Thank you for not being like Switzerland and offering very decent fast food for very reasonable pricing. Actually, I had observed a quality to the fast-food very early on going right back to when I entered this country by train. It was observable from a distance and then as intrigue drew me closer, I saw very reasonable pricing – especially considering these outlets were in a train station. As such you’d be forgiven for pre-conceiving a grotty underground environment with sub-standard fast-food but you’d be wrong, not in Germany. To put this into context I didn’t want to eat in any of Interlaken’s fast-food outlets (and subsequently didn’t) but I’d have eaten in all of Germany’s train stations (and subsequently did).
Hey Switzerland – cheap, quality fast-food will never catch on y’know….lol.
Secondly, have any of you actually put thought to how I have been traversing this vast country? Well, it’s only been possible thanks to the greatest coach/bus network I’ve seen so far. Not only are they predominantly on time, comfortable and with Wifi but they’re also super cheap! No wonder the bus is always full no matter which journey I take and I’ve taken plenty.
For your information, the two most popular buses/coaches are the big, bright green ones and the big yellow ones. Both rather distinguishable colours! FlixBus and MeinFernbus have merged so they are now the single biggest bus/coach company and they are the green ones and Postbus is the yellow bus. You’ll see these two pretty much everywhere in Germany and particularly near the bigger cities.
The final ‘Bonn’ experience I want to share with you is about my accommodation for the night. Somehow I stumbled found a cracking place that although is quite far the main town, it’s easily accessible by metro so not an issue. This place really was a one-off, I’m taking about an old, converted hangar that now houses static caravans and camper vans for people to stay in. Actually I saw more small families here than backpackers. Even Ben was amazed that such a place existed here in Bonn.
These converted caravans are reasonably priced for normal holiday makers but I couldn’t afford one so instead, and get this, I would be staying in ‘the train’! Yep, I kid you not, below you will see the entrance to the hangar itself and the rear exit of what once was a fully working production train. How unbelievably cool is that.
(The rear is for show though and instead you enter and exit through an equivalent entrance but of course inside the hangar itself).
Being in a train though meant that the short walkway to my cabin was tight – as were the cabins themselves which should have been obvious to me but wasn’t initially. In fact so small was it in here that you couldn’t swing a dead rat let alone a cat! Still, it was only to sleep in and it was ‘private’ so to speak so I quickly got over the size restrictions and embraced my stay in what has to be the most originally cool place I would lay my head down.
Please now enjoy the remaining variety of accommodation within the hanger. Do pay attention to the amount of detail that has gone into the surrounding area of each of these ‘private quarters’.
And here is the train itself (sorry for the blur!) The images to follow show the single entry point and of course, my cabin for the night which might look vaguely familiar to any frequent rail commuter.
Folks, within the next 12 hours I will be updating the ‘Where am I right now’ applet on the home page as I will soon be leaving Germany for a new destination so keep an eye-out. Any guesses? Actually it shouldn’t be too difficult considering its proximity to where I am now and it’s a country that nobody really has a bad word to say about. I can’t wait and if all goes well, I could be breaking my own two-week record of staying in a single country.
You’ve had plenty of posts from me this week folks so expect the next one early next week – I’m hoping to do some ‘sunning’ in the mean-time amongst other things…