Oxford is twinned with various cities around the world – Grenoble in France, Leiden in the Netherlands, Leon in Nicaragua, Perm in Russia and Bonn in Germany.
During June 2nd – 4th, councilors, musicians, dancers & artists from Oxford went on a friendly exchange to Bonn. My role was to organize a fair trade fashion show as part of the Buegerfest, in collaboration with the Heinrich-Hertz Europakolleg tutors and students. It was all very last-minute, the trip had only been confirmed the day before.
After 4hrs sleep, we left Oxford in a Rabbit lorry. I initially felt nervous traveling in such a big vehicle, but Diana’s expert driving soon put me at ease. I was rubbish at map reading and we had our moments…French, Belgium and German road signs aren’t the easiest to read, and the whole driving on the right side of the road was confusing. Unfortunately we got stuck in bank holiday traffic & road works… 13hrs later, we finally arrived. It’s a beautiful city – lots of open spaces, historic buildings and trees. My host family – Karin, Ralph and Michael took me to their very lovely house in the suburbs of Bonn.
On Thurday, I skipped the boat trip along the Rhine for museums and building sites which are aplenty in Bonn.
I need a bigger mouth or a smaller sandwich. Mozzarella and tomato roll at the Kunst Museum café, clumsily pesto oozed onto my flamingo print dress when I took a bite…a stroll around the Heinz Marks exhibition helped aid digestion.
Knuspy bar that my host family had kindly given to me.
At the Beirgarten overlooking the Rhine, I tried the chicken salad which was smothered in pink mayonnaise and mysterious bits of pineapple. I also ate the potatoes, smiling politely whilst in pain as my stomach swiftly blew up.
Bonn’s super efficient and easy to use tram system
The next morning I spent at a Fair Trade seminar in the City Hall, as both Bonn and Oxford are Fair Trade towns.We were treated to plates of biscuits, coffee, juice & fizzy water (all water in Germany seems to be fizzy). Randomly we had a trip onto the roof of the city hall where the smell of chips was being pumped out of the ventilation shafts.
Fortunately our lunch wasn’t chips. We had an exciting array of roasted vegetables, fresh salad, lentils and bread. The dessert was delicious – vanilla custard with raspberry coulis.
A brief visit to Diana’s Big Book & Vicky’s Language – Paralanguage project outside the tourist office, then back to the city hall for the fashion show fittings…
Photo by Stefanie Haarkamp
Dinner was a BBQ at the Oxford Club, when I finally found the place after an hour of walking in circles…just in time for salty pork schnitzel, prawns, salad and German bread.
We stumbled across Bonn’s newest Library, in a red phone box…
I did the best I could in the situation and managed to pull off a show, despite not having an ideal set up. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Martina & Stefanie from the Heinrich-Hertz Europakolleg, Barbara from Bonn Council & Rachel from Oxford Council, they were all brilliant! The students looked fantastic. I showcased my own designs as well as garments & jewellery by Trading For Development.
Photo by Stefanie Haarkamp
I had missed my scheduled lunch so opted for a pastry from the bakery. I bought a ‘knusperstrange’, chocolate & sunflower seeded marzipan cake. I later bought a coconut drink, I was feeling incredibly fatigued by the heat and the non-stop rush of the fashion show.
Took some time to enjoy Bonn’s eclectic architecture
It was great to get out of the 30 degree heat and into the air conditioned galleries of the Frauen Museum
Met up with artist friends & we headed off together to the Haus des Karnevals for some cheesy entertainment. Dinner was an amalgamation of various traditional Bavarian dishes from a buffet spread, the bread being my favourite. Had I not been tired, sticky & sober, I might have enjoyed the German karaoke…
The journey back – another early start, zooming along the motorway, we got a bit lost, but luckily managed to make our Eurotunnel crossing! We were greeted with British weather and traffic. Hours stuck on the motorway, we finally made it back…My boyfriend had a lovely meal and an interesting dessert waiting for me!