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i t h S T U A R T P A T E R S O N
FEW years ago, the city fathers of Liverpool decided, in their no doubt
infinite wisdom, to dub its airport John Lennon International, or
something as equally appealing to Japanese music fans. Now, I shalln’t
commit the cardinal sin of besmirching that fine city on the banks of
the Mersey, but I will say that the cities of Bonn and Cologne made a
better choice when they opted to name their air transport hub after
Konrad Adenauer, the father of the modern German nation.
To all intents and purposes, the airport is situated in Cologne, which
is by far the larger of the two cities, with a population over three
times that of Bonn. As well as that, the International Air Transport
Association code for the airport is CGN, so why is it called
Cologne/Bonn? One would imagine that, as the airport was opened to
civilian air traffic in 1951 (having previously been occupied by
British forces), the name is a result of Bonn’s former (and
much-missed) status as capital of West Germany. Konrad Adenauer was
born in Cologne and died on the outskirts of Bonn. He served as mayor
of Cologne, and led his nation from Bonn. Therefore, it is fitting that
the airport bears his name.
was whilst on a journey from the aforementioned airport to my abode
that I became aware of the fact that spring has well and truly sprung.
The temperature has shot up and leaves have returned to trees in
abundance. In Bonn the advent of spring means one thing – the annual
marathon. The fact that there is such a thing as a Bonn marathon came
as a surprise to me, not least because I questioned the existence of 26
miles and 385 yards of road, such is the bijou nature of the city.
However, I have been proved wrong and in a few days thousands of
runners will leave the Rathaus on an epic race around the city.
some inexplicable reason, the starting pistol is due to be fired by the
boyfriend of the openly gay leader of the German liberal party. From
the Rathaus, those hoping to emulate Pheidippides will cross the Rhine
and head into Beuel, a district of Bonn that is only notable for being
on the opposite side of the river. The participants will be pleased to
discover that their stay on the right bank will be brief, as the route
heads back over the bridge to Bonn proper. Interestingly the bridge is
named after President John F. Kennedy, who greeted crowds outside Bonn
Rathaus before heading to Berlin to tell a worldwide audience of
millions that he was actually a sticky doughnut. During Bonn’s time as
capital, the Rathaus hosted receptions for various world leaders. Since
reunification, the calibre of guest has declined somewhat. So far I
have attended two receptions there. Enough said, I feel.
From the bridge, the marathon route follows the Rhine past the
headquarters of Deutsche Post and the former government district, down
towards Bad Godesberg, a rather well-to-do spa town founded in the
eighth century, which hosted a meeting between Chamberlain and Hitler
in the run-up to the Munich Conference. The town was unglamorously
swallowed up by Bonn in the 1960s, and was, for many years, the suburb
of choice for foreign diplomats, as the continued existence of a Marks
and Spencers surely proves. Curiously, it would appear that it is
also the site of Bonn’s only branch of Woolworth’s.
From Bad Godesberg the route heads back north through the unremarkable
suburbs of Friesdorf, Dottendorf, and Kessenich until reaching the
city’s northern extremities where runners will again reach the Rhine
which they follow back to the Rathaus where medals, foil sheets, and
the distinct possibility of a myocardial infraction await. Sounds
fun, doesn’t it?
III, No. 5, April 13, 2005
Paterson is a
student of German, as well as President of the University of St Andrews
Conservative and Unionist Association.
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