Thursday through Sunday last week were filled with lots of fun activities and new experiences. We don’t have any scheduled activities on the weekends during the introductory seminar, but I easily filled the weekend with errands and events that were going on in Bonn.
Picking up from where I left off in my last post, Thursday, the 6th, was a long day, beginning with an excursion to Leverkusen, a small town north of Cologne. We visited the world headquarters of Bayer (as in Aspirin). Our tour included information about the three divisions of Bayer, such as the area of nutritional research. While we were there, the 7,070,000,000th person was born. (See below.)
|Too bad we are losing arable land...|
|I tried to capture the exact birth, but it was not meant to be!|
We then went around the factory space by bus. The best part of the tour was the nkt cables company that produces extremely long and technologically advanced cables designed to connect continents across oceans, and as a means to transport electricity produced by deep-water wind turbines to power grids.
That night we attended a wine tasting in the Ahr valley. The Ahr river valley is known for prize-winning red wine, and the valley is especially protected from cold and rainy weather all year long. The south-facing mountains receive a lot of sun, and the mountains contain a lot of slate, which warms the grapes even after the sun has set. We had a private tasting with a small vintner. We began the evening with climbing up a hill and enjoying a bit of a sparkling rosé wine. We stayed on the hill until the sun set. I tried eight more wines, including a red wine made from only the best-placed vines in the area. Dinner consisted of a phenomenal “Abendbrot,” that included a pumpkin mango soup, homemade cheeses, breads, and meats, and lots of salads. So far the wine tasting has been one of my favorite activities!
|Our amazing German hosts|
Friday we visited the Federal Ministry of Defense. Germany is currently downsizing its military and in the last two years, it abolished the one-year mandatory service requirement for men. Many of our group’s questions revolved around Germany’s military actions as they are connected to EU, UN, and NATO missions. As a military actor, Germany never acts alone.
On a lighter and brighter note, Friday we also visited Solarworld, a very successful German solar panel company. They specialize in small and medium installations. If I had a house, I would get solar panels from them! It would cost me between $5,000 and $10,000 to do so! Their US headquarters is near San Diego, and US manufacturing is based in Oregon.
As if our first week wasn’t busy enough, I spent a lot of my weekend out and about. The 7th was the first day of a month-long Beethoven celebration in Bonn. Some fellows and I watched a live broadcast of the kick-off concert on the main square. The Birmingham Orchestra performed Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Saturday I brunched with friends, then we visited Beethoven’s Birthplace, which is now a museum with collections of artifacts, instruments, music, and a digital archive. We realized that visiting Beethoven during Beethovenfest might not have been the best idea (lots of people!). After coffee and internet at Goldbraun Café, the US Bukas who stayed in Bonn for the weekend had dinner together at a great Italian restaurant in town
|Emmeline, Lizzie, and Ellen|
|Me, Beethoven, Beethoven, Beethoven, etc.|