I start this blog with what I think is the worst aspect of Bonn. It affects most, if not all the residents and tourists at some point and something needs to be done about it as soon as possible. The beautiful main train station building is really quite impressive in terms of architecture but as an en experience it is dark, smelly, ugly and an embarrassment.

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Entertainment options at Bonn’s main station.

 

Work will start on renovating the leaking roof soon and there are plans to redevelop the area in front of the station. The strassenbahn underpass is nearly repaired and at least there’s been some progress to the rear with a new hotel and food shop but there’s still lots of work to do. The car park remains half-closed and the underpass between platforms is a joke.

I stood in the underpass for five minutes and took in the experience. The smell is a combination of piss and electricity. An occasional note of Chinese food or Kebab wafts through if you’re lucky. The colors are grey and everything is covered in dirt. Everyone is moving through just to get out again. Welcome to Bonn!

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“SUPER BILLIG” sums it up nicely.

It was about a year ago that I walked through here with an open bottle of water and stopped to buy some sweets. I decided against it after looking at the price but as I walked away a voice shouted behind me “Hey. You haven’t paid!” I turned and watched him running after me, shook my half empty bottle of water at him and I think he worked it out. I guess that’s a regular occurrence in the underpass.

I watched a busker getting walked into the Police Station. He had been playing in another underpass without a busking license and I felt quite sorry for him because after speaking to the local flower lady I found out that he was one of the best guitar players she had heard. “Usually they can’t play and I’m happy when they get moved along.” she told me. The only licensed entertainment you’ll find underneath the station is the sex shop and gambling arcade. Sigh!

Walking around the edges of the station talking pictures feels a little risky. In December 2012 someone tried to blow the place up and camera monitoring has been stepped up ever since but I took my chances around the wonderful Radstation. This charity-run secure bike-park has been here in a temporary building for 4 years after part of the car park was condemned. I see no evidence of any work on the Car Park…

There’s one part of the Hauptbahnhof that I didn’t take pictures of and that’s the area at the exit to the bus station where people gather to drink liters of cheap beer every day. A taxi driver once told me that 8 liters in a day wouldn’t be exceptional. Some of that beer appears to run back down into the station after a while. Recycling?

Much cleaner than the rest of the station are the Call-a-Bikes which have been here since 2008 and are looking clean and tidy. Let’s hope the planned city-wide bike rental scheme stays as clean.

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After 13 years in Bonn the main station remains a mess and any projects I’ve seen started only seem to get half-finished. It’s sad to be reporting on it but I do it in the hope that I can report on a bright and cheery Bonn Hauptbahnhof station in 5 years time. In the meantime: Pretty Bonn pictures!

Images: Lumia 830 smartphone. All by Steve Paine under CC license.