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The 14 days of Valentine tribute to the love of couchsurfing continues.


HE: Architect
SHE: IT Security Consultant
CHILDREN: Daughter, Son, Daughter

Our couchsurf in Bonn was a perfect example of how this form of alternative accommodation will bring you somewhere you had no plans to go and will show you a whole new world.  As we drove from A(msterdam) to Z(agreb) as fast as possible to get out of the Schengen countries, we mapped a route with overnight stops every five hours drive or so.  Bonn was our first stop after leaving Amsterdam.

A perfect Bonnfire hat

A perfect Bonnfire hat

Bonnfire accepted our request to surf right away and thus we found ourselves in Bad Godesberg, a suburb of Bonn.  Bonn used to be the capital of Western Germany before the Berlin Wall fell so the city still has a lot of world class museums and infrastructure.  Also, Bonn, Cologne, Düsseldorf and Dortmund are all situated close together so the whole area acts as one mega-metropolis.  Bad Godesberg used to be the Diplomatic area so walking around there today, you see many former embassy mansions.

View of castle and Rhine River from hike (Bonn, Germany)

View of castle and Rhine River from hike (Bonn, Germany)

When Berlin suddenly became the new capital of Germany, Bad Godesberg went through a big demographic shift.  Many Muslims began moving into the area and as they became established and set up businesses, an influx of wealthy Muslim medical tourists began coming to Bonn from the Arab states for the excellent medical care available to foreigners for a fee.

When we arrived, we found a place like no other we had ever seen: the architecture Brothers Grimm, the inhabitants 1001 Arabian nights.  Bonnfire had moved here a few years ago because they were able to get a gorgeous, large flat for a very reasonable price.  Much of the gorgeousness of the flat had to do with Bonnfire Man and his creativity.  He had made most of the furniture including the clever platform beds and the beautiful coffee table in the living room.  Although the flat was not on the ground floor, it had a large back deck converted to a garden.  It was an oasis where we sat and had dinner our first night.

We arrived around 5 pm midweek and everyone was home to greet us except Bonnfire Mann.  When he got home and came out to the back deck to meet us, he hadn’t had a chance to decompress from the office.  Over the course of an hour or so spent chatting and eating, we all relaxed more and more until he told me something.

Today’s Quote of the Day is paraphrased slightly from what Bonnfire Man told me but the sentiment is fully there:

When we receive a couchsurfing request and we think the person sounds interesting, we are happy and say yes.  Then in the time between saying yes and the person actually arriving, I start to regret our decision.  I have a busy life with enough stuff of my own to do without complicating schedules further by taking in strangers.  I get a bit angry with myself for having said yes.  I think about how I could get out of it.  But then the person arrives and they bring us so much fun and joy and perspective.  All of a sudden, I am happy with myself for having said yes.  When the person leaves I am sad to see them go.

That is what happened with us.  We had such a wonderful time with this family.  Not only did they welcome a family of seven into their home, they had no qualms about the number growing to 8 when we found out that Firstborn’s Finnish Friend would be with us for two weeks.  They took us on a hike that we will always remember.  In the end, we saw nothing of Bonn except Bad Godesberg.

It may sound strange but what we found was the best thing for us because we had guides who listened to what we like and gave us just that.  We got to visit the original Haribo candy factory and to buy tons of gummy bears at wholesale prices; we hiked up a mountain and had gorgeous views of the Rhine; we heard a few local myths and fairytales; we soaked up the German village/Arab State vibe on a stroll; we baked pretzels and ate them.  In short, we made new friends that we felt like we had known forever.


Need a shopping cart full of candy?  Come to Haribo.

Need a shopping cart full of candy? Come to Haribo.

Need a candy lasso?  Come to Haribo.

Need a candy lasso? Come to Haribo.

I was surprised to find books about one of my very favourite artists, Andy Goldsworthy, in their apartment.  If you google him and click on “images”, you won’t regret it.  It is amazing what he can create out of leaves or snow.  It turns out that Goldsworthy is one of their favourites too.

Bonnfire hat is inspired by Andy Goldsworthy colours and by the style of hat I imagine him to wear when he’s out all day working.  This hat is a little different too in that it fits and suits both men and women.  Bonnfire Man and Woman are a strong team and both were equally involved in communicating with me before, during and after our visit.  Now they have a hat to share!

hat bonn

The hat was knit in Liberty Wools 100% wool on 4.5 mm/US 7 needles.  It is a variation of “Easy Striped Hat”.  The free pattern can be found at Classic Elite Yarns or, of course, on Ravelry.