Student for a day

Statue of Beethoven in Bonn Today one of the folks I live with suggested I accompany her into Bonn, as she wanted to pick up a book, amongst other errands. Said student has been mentioned before, being a student of philosophy, and thus interesting as a conversational companion.

I figured I had nothing else to do, the sun was shining, and Bonn is a rather lovely town, plus wandering around with someone new always takes you to places you weren’t expecting, so I agreed.

In this case, the places that we visited were of a largely student based nature. This is a societal sector that I currently blend in with fairly seamlessly. It could be the dreadlocks, it could be the hemp based clothing. Who can tell.

Our primary mission for the day was to find a book on a topic that so confused me I almost fear to bring it up here in case someone asks me what it was all about. Nevertheless. It was titled Paraconsistent Logic, which after some thought I concluded must have something to do with logic. Other than the first paragraph, which explained that the idea for the 701 page tome cropped up in a pub, the rest of it was a deep mystery to me. Still, I tried.

Bonn university buildings Books being the mission, libraries were the target. After a short train ride, we arrived in Bonn city centre and headed straight for the university and it’s reassuringly book filled shelves. The mark, no doubt, that serious study is possible here. The musty tomes practically oozed knowledge.

After a brief stop off in a small, philosophy only library, we headed to the main university library, a modern building which looked almost entirely unlike a library. Inside, there were no signs of actual books, just a lot of students and computers, presumably the vision of the modern day library. However, as it was an actual physical book we were after, and not a computerised version, we were let loose in the basement to search..

The basement, it turned out, was absolutely massive. Rows and rows of books stretched off, seemingly ad infinitum. There was a numbering scheme, which didn’t appear to conform to any actual system of number ordering, which was helpfully combined with a colour scheme in case random numbers weren’t doing it for you. It reminded me somewhat of the Tokyo Underground. Doors were randomly stumbled across, some open, some closed, some closed and alarmed. I started to seriously fear that we would  never get out of this place, developing instead a new life as book dwellers, feasting on paper mulch and ink, occasionally coming across the skeletons of other book hunters.

This was not the case, of course. After much wandering, and me quoting a bit of Indiana Jones for company, we finally found the book we were after, and then found our way back to the surface, via the tomb of a hidden king (I may have made that up). Here we decided that book hunting was hungry work, and headed off to the student eatery for food.

In case you can't read this, it says that Beethoven was born here. Culture, tick.I was advised that the food was likely to be awful, but it was also likely to be cheap. Since I’m generally happy to eat pretty much anything I agreed. I was also particularly interested to see what German student food was like. The last meal I’d had in student surroundings was at one of the staff tables in the Oxford colleges, where they serve you wine with your lunch. This was not, I suspect, a standard student eating experience. It certainly wasn’t reflective of my student days at Nottingham, where the idea was that anything and everything was better off deep fried.

As it was, the food was not a tremendous surprise. Being Germany, the dish of the day was wurst (sausage), with mashed potato and sauerkraut. It was, however, an absolutely massive plateful, and it was seriously tasty. Plus it was cheap. Victory all round. We ate in the student canteen, where I observed that students seemed pretty much the same in Germany as the UK. Probably no huge surprises there.

Following lunch, I enquired of my companion, who had studied at Bonn University for four years now, what she knew of the city. Interestingly, she knew very little. Philosophy, it turned out, meant she spent a lot more time inside her own head than observing the places she was at. Also, the old adage that you never really visit the places you live in came true. So I dragged her to see a church, Beethoven’s statue, and the house where Beethoven was born. Not exactly mind blowing stuff, but well, a bit of culture is never going to hurt.

Beer. Always a good thing. We then retired to a sunny outdoor terrace by the Rhine, where we talked at some length about life, the universe and everything. It’s hard not to have a philosophical discussion sometimes. Particularly when there is fine German beer at hand, the sun is shining, and you have nowhere else in the world to be. We discussed travelling… life.. the quest for happiness. All the good stuff. Then.. finally.. it was time to head home.

Days like this are really lovely, and what make travelling so interesting. For me, one of the main reasons I travel is to meet new people, share new experiences, stumble upon the unexpected and explore new perspectives. All of which I achieved. Oh, and there was sausage. Which is always a good thing..

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