It’s been three months and I’ve succeeded in getting my tourist visa extended until January 2018. Officially I am here for a “Sprach Kurs Besuch” or Language Course Visit. The course is an intensive course (15 hours per week!) from the beginning of May to end of June, but thanks to a loophole I discovered through some friends, I asked to stay for longer than the course length. It turns out, as long as you have proof of funds and health insurance for the time you’re in the country, they will let you stay. So that’s what I’m doing.
The beautiful River Rhein is a magnetic feature of the city. The Rhein (Rhine) is massive, beginning in the Swiss Alps and running all the way to the Netherlands.
In the Rheinland region of Germany, the river runs through lots of colorful little towns, with beer gardens and weinstube at practically every turn.
There is also tons of good hiking nearby and the river is always good for a hangout or grilling in the summer (in some places).
Bonn is the former capital – of West Germany from 1949 to 1990, and from 1990 to 1999 it was the seat of government – of reunited Germany. The official capital is back in Berlin now, but the University of Bonn (Universität Bonn) is still a big part of the city’s identity and vibe.
Life in Bonn is pretty chill. With a population of just over 300,000 people, it’s smaller and quieter than what I’m used to. Thankfully Köln (Cologne) is just up the river. One of Germany’s largest cities with 2 million people, there is always a concert or a party to be found.
That big looming church you see there is the Kölner Dom, or Cologne Cathedral. It’s one of the biggest churches in the world and is a claim to fame for the city. Exiting the city’s main train station is pretty amazing because you end up staring that thing right in the face. A cool first experience for sure. Other than the Dom, Köln is known for partying – no seriously! Karneval is a really big deal in Germany’s Catholic areas, and Köln is the epicenter. From November to January everyone is Karneval crazed. Lucky for me, there’s also a decent music scene, and I’ve been able to quench my thirst with performances by American and European bands.