Thursday, April 10, 2008

Flash travel with Beethoven

Between Freiburg and my illusionary exposure to the limelight in Bonn lies four hours of travel through the InterCity Express (ICE). The last time I took the bullet train was my trip from Frankfurt to Freiburg when I first set foot on this land. The trip was "fast," the cold weather being my only complaint then (and now!) as I got off and transited in Mannheim to take the InterCity (IC) to Bonn.

As what my professor advised me to do, I was on the literal look out on the right side of the train once we reached Koblenz. The Rhine River mirrored the row of houses and buildings along its bank. Behind were lofty hills where some lonely castle was perched. Even without the touch of the sun, it was indeed wunderschoen!

I emerged from the main train station, surprised to find out how small it was for a former capital of the West Germany. I drifted on the street straight ahead following the general flow of the people and snapped some photos. Once they dispersed into the old town and beyond my borders of comfort, I tracked back my steps and grabbed a quick bite on the first fastfood joint I saw. I recalled my last meal was five hours ago.

I had the chance to go to my hotel where I was billeted, although I thought to myself to just roam around the city for the next hour and a half before my appointment at four that afternoon. I followed the conspicuous arrow pointing to the Information Center, picked up a brochure on a Beethoven walking tour, and realized I am once again a tourist. I headed out and navigated through the old town to locate the birthplace of Beethoven where he spent the first few years of his life.
I would have missed the house had I not seen its formal placard outside. My original plan was simply trace the steps of the music wunderkind inside the city. I slid inside the house and was happy to discover the five Euro entrance fee was within my means. I even afforded the two Euro audio-guide that included some clips of Beethoven's masterpieces. Some places I've been to charge visitors and make them feel robbed rather than welcomed.

I must have enjoyed my time inside, thinking that literally walking on Beethoven's footsteps could be my only way to be a master of music. I lost track of time, and semi-skimmed through glass cases, paintings, instruments, and other artifacts so I can see all of them before I left the house. I lingered a little longer on the attic of the house where he was born.
I am not a musical maestro. There was even a time when guitar chords and notes meant the same to me. The tour in the birth house of Beethoven was well worth it. It was an eye-opener to get a peek of the past, and to the life of one of the best musicians in our history.

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