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Bremen scenic view of old town with buildings and people

European Adventure Part Deux Bremen

Bremen

“Reunited and it feels so good” by Peaches and Herb might have well been our theme song. Reunited once again and eager to explore, we venture out. We board the tram headed for the town center. Our first stop would be the Unesco World Heritage site of Town Hall and Roland on the Marketplace.

Honestly, I wasn’t aware this was an officially designated Unesco site until after the conclusion of my trip but I knew it was a special spot just from looking at it. A truly stunning mixture of old brick style Gothic and newer Weser Renaissance architecture was on full display.

In addition to being a true feast for the eyes, you can also feel the history here. The Roland statue was erected back in 1404 and is one of the oldest best-preserved statues still in existence. Having been constructed during the time of the Holy Roman Empire, both the Town Hall and the Roland Statue represented the rights, privileges, and freedoms of the Imperial city of Bremen. And it still stands prominently in the town square to both represent and guard over these proud values to this day.

Aside from this well preserved Town Hall area, sadly the rest of the historic town of Bremen suffered serious destruction during WWII and was rebuilt in new forms after the war. You can see these different forms of older and newer recreated architecture mixed in all throughout the city but not to the extent as with Hamburg. The city has done a great job of preserving and maintaining its magical medieval fairy tale like look, feel and charm.

Perhaps the most well-known landmark in Bremen is the iconic bronze statue depicting the famous Town Musicians. The statue stands as a tribute to the equally well-known fairy tale story by the Brothers Grimm. According to the story, a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster set off on a journey to Bremen in search of a better life.

Past their prime, lured by the promise of freedom and in fear of being discarded or neglected by their masters they decide to run away and become town musicians in the city of Bremen. This sounds like the type of offbeat story that you would expect from these popular storytellers.

One of the things to do in Bremen is to rub the donkey’s leg for good luck. I ended up rubbing the donkey’s leg multiple times because I could use all the luck I can get. After completing our very own group rub as well, we decided to venture off and explore more of the city but not before sampling a local delicacy called Bremer Knipp.

As with any town center in Europe, marketplaces filled with delicious food and fresh produce stands are quite common and this town center of Bremen was no different. Upon Demet’s recommendation, Yesi and I tried Knipp for the first time and it did not disappoint.

Not too far away from the Town musicians lies another set of equally notable bronze animal sculptures. This time it’s a man with a horn, a dog and many pigs. This area is known as the Sögestraße or the pedestrian zone. The sculptures are meant to depict a Swineherd and his herd of pigs and hark back to the days when pigs were herded through the streets from their enclosed pastures just outside the city walls. Sitting on the statues is encouraged so feel free to take a seat and get as comfy as we did.

Next up we explored the Böttcherstraße. A 100-meter-long winding street in the city center that is home to a variety of unique custom arts and craft shops, selling everything from books, trinkets to candy. Yes, candy! The Bremer Bonbon Manufaktur is a big candy store that sells all types of sweet tasty confections. One of its main draws is allowing the public to witness firsthand how their candy is actually made. We sampled a few flavors and Yesi even ended up buying a whole jar all for herself and only herself. Just kidding ☺, she graciously shared it with us.

The buildings along this street are made up of a hodgepodge of many different styles of architecture with the most prevalent one being Brick Expressionism dating as far back as the 1920s. At the main entrance, you’ll find an emblem that appears to be made of gold called the Lichtbringer which translates to “Bringer of Light”. The emblem depicts Michael the Archangel’s battle with a dragon and was meant to symbolize “The Führer’s victory over the powers of darkness”.

After exploring much of the city center, we decided to take a stroll outside and explore more of the Weser river. All along the river, we see beautiful ships including some that seem to look like old pirate ships. We come across a beer garden that sits right along the river and unwind for a bit. Finding beer gardens all throughout Germany is not uncommon at all.

Of course, the beer of choice is Becks which is the famous homebrew of Bremen. I opted for an Aperol Spritz instead. We also convinced Yesi to try her very first taste of Currywurst, a Northern German staple. After a few drinks and a sampling of Currywurst, we headed back to home base to get ready for the night but not before picking up some needed provisions at the local discount market.

Later that night, we head out to dinner at a restaurant located inside of a hotel. The restaurant served genuine German food including seasonal sauerkraut. I had already made my friend aware that this was something I really wanted to experience prior to my visit. I sorely missed good ‘ole fashioned German food especially the kind you would get from the Southern Bavarian region in cities like Munich.

This restaurant did not disappoint. It had me reliving my savory memories of Oktoberfest two years prior. My friend really came through with her choice. I remember her being on the phone and calling nearby restaurants to find out which one still served sauerkraut in season. Apparently, this was one of the few restaurants that still did. So dedicated of her to find the perfect dinner spot and much appreciated by me of course. Cheers to Demet! Prost!

Obviously, it wasn’t just about the food. It was also about the gratifying experience of sharing a good meal with good friends. The restaurant was called Edel Weiss and it sat right across from the main train station. After getting our fill of German deliciousness, we took a nightly stroll around town to walk off all that food. We stumbled upon an old windmill looking building that these days is also a restaurant but at one point was an actual windmill.

We headed back to home base that night fully prepared to set out on an early morning expedition of the North Sea. Each night back at the university dorm, we would end up having really interesting conversations with many local student residents. It was your typical yet modern student way of life of staying up late, talking, drinking, contemplating the meaning of life and just enjoying the company of others. We even ended up playing a spirited game of poker one night. Next stop, the North Sea!

Onward to Bremerhaven

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