It’s Beethoven’s birthday, but because he’s a whole 250 years old he gets to celebrate for the whole year. His birthday is actually on December 17th and although his reputation was built in Vienna he was born in Bonn and that is where we went today. Right now I’m listening to the Cello Sonatas.
With no car we had to walk down the hill and through the forest again. It was a little wetter, a little more slippy and trying to avoid the squelching mud at speed to make sure we made the train made it all a little more precarious. Also Olivia was wearing her stunning Texan boots, but they have no grip. She was also carrying a violin, her bag and a 13th century crystal vase (ok, there was no vase). We made it to the train with ten minutes to spare. Two stops on the train and then change for the tram. It takes about 40 minutes on the tram from Rhöndorf (Drachenfels, more later) to the central station in Bonn. Apparently Bonn central used to be a dump, but they’ve done it up and Olivia could hardly believe how much it has changed. I had a tasty Thai yellow curry in a trendy looking cafe for 8 Euros, seemed cheap considering the sandwich across the way was 4 Euros. I can never figure out how things are priced. How could the Died Pretty album I bought today be 5 Euros and the measly prepackaged sandwich I didn’t buy be 4 Euros?
It’s also Carnival season around here and today there’s lots of cute kids around in colourful costumes. Next week is Rose Monday when the parade happens. I went to see it once, rowdy doesn’t quite cover it, but if you like floats, street festivals, dressing up and drinking beer, this is certainly for you. But we were in Bonn to look at the two newish record stores, meet Olivia’s friend Sophia and to give Beethoven his present (we got him a hearing aid). Seriously though, a couple of years ago we went and visited the house where he was born and I think they even had the crib that he gurgled and gargled in as a baby. To think that he would write the Smoke On The Water of classical music (The Fifth Symphony) and be such a prodigious talent and then go through the torture of losing his hearing, it’s such a tragic story (Tip: Gary Oldman in The Immortal Beloved is a must see film). At his house you can listen on headphones to how his hearing presumably deteriorated. I’m not sure how they worked it out, but if this was accurate then the man surely suffered.
The record stores were both great because they were friendly and the first (Mr. Music) had a selection of new stuff and the other (mirrorball) had a great selection of secondhand stuff. I asked Anton at Mr. Music what he thought of The Slow Rush, the new Tame Impala album, he reacted as I hoped anyone might who had bought the first two albums and then bought the third, “I tried hating it, but didn’t”. Ha ha, positive review then. I won’t go into the albums I bought in either store as we’d be here till dawn but I found a lot of interesting records between the two shops. I found a copy of Heyday for 25 Euros (Yikes!) at Mirrorball. Roger, the boss, told me he had a few of the early albums. I autographed it for him and pondered the thought that it was 35 years old.
Olivia was supposed to meet Sophia whilst I rummaged but she also had to take her cellolin to the luthier for some adjustments. The ‘cellolin’ is her name for one of her violins that has lower octave strings. You can hear it on certain songs in our live set (Chromium, Time Is Imaginary). Sophia couldn’t make it in the afternoon, she is a med student so she is studying all day everyday, and has been for years so she wasn’t around till around 5.30PM. We went to meet her together at the ramen place. It was supposed to be those two catching up whilst I looked for Gentle Giant bootlegs, but Sophia came to the Düsseldorf livestream gig and is super cool and smart and we ended up talking the three of us for a couple of hours about health, food, diseases, homeopathy, cancer, training to become a doctor and the magic of words and music. It was really fascinating and the time flew by.
We got on the train back and realized we didn’t have any cash for the machine to buy a ticket. It’s so dumb, it only takes coins, you can’t use your card and if an inspector gets on it’s a 60 Euro fine if you have no ticket. I’d hate to try and figure it out if you didn’t speak German. In the end we found an app online (or Olivia did) and paid just in case, inspectors don’t usually like excuses. Gerd picked us up at the station and we got back to the house just in time for Spurs/Leipzig, like Liverpool/Atlético yesterday, Spurs lost by a goal to nil.
Last but not least on the tram to Bonn we rode along the Rhine and past the ruin of Burg Drachenfels (Dragon Rock Castle), a 12th century castle that overlooks the river from high on one of the hills in this region that is called Siebengebirge (Seven Hills). Everytime I go past it I think, Drachenfels? Did George R.R. Martin holiday around here?
PS – There’s a lot of construction going on in Bonn at the moment. I’ll let you choose which language to read this in: