At five am, I’m boarding a Discover style bus that will take me all the way to Bremen, Germany. At five am, I am barely awake, and shivering, as the weather in Sweden hasn’t quite caught up to spring warmth, and it’s around freezing temperatures. While I’m prepared for promised +20C.
I’m one of those anti-travel-snobs (not a Mean Girl), and will travel any way possible, may that be by bus. Bus travels aren’t preferred, but quite honestly, they can be rather comfortable. And while traveling with Resemakar’n, a Swedish bus-and-flight travel company, and their Discover style bus, I’m always assured I’ll be completely satisfied with my travel experience.
After a few hundred miles of Swedish highway and two short ferry rides, we roll at high speed down the German Autobahn untill entering the small Hanseatic town of Bremen. Bremen is the main city of the Bremen/Oldenburg Metropolitan Region, and has existed since about 787 AD, but got their city privileges in 1186.
Bremen is small. I don’t mean that population-wise, nor geographically. I mean that from a touristic point of view. Spending three days here, out of which one I fled to Bremerhaven, was more than enough. Don’t get me wrong – Bremen is picturesque and very nice, but there is very little to do here.
The main square (Marktplatz) hosts the statue of Roland, the gothic City Hall and the large Bremer Dom (church), all in Gothic architecture. By the City Hall, you also find the statue of theTown Musicians of Bremen, which is admittedly what Bremen is most known for.
It’s a nice town to walk in. My hotel was located by the Haupfbahnhof, giving me an enjoyable ten minutes walk into city center. On my way, I got to cross the former moat, over Herdentor which offered a splendid view over the Wallanlagen, a city park in which one of the old windmills still stands – now transformed into a small café.
The oldest part of Bremen, Schnoor, dates back to Medieval times, and is located on the east parts of Bremen, just north of the bank of the Weser river. This is the only part of Bremen that has kept its medieval atmosphere. Schnoor, being the German word for string, witnesses about the history of this street, as it once was the center of rope and cable manufacturing in the shipment industry of Bremen.
Now, a quaint and quiet, narrow street littered with knickknacks stores, arts and crafts and touristic keepsakes, Schnoor offers a calmer setting and it’s cafés invite for a coffee in the sun.
My favorite part of Bremen was the Böttcherstraße, only 100 meters long, but frequented by most visitors to Bremen due to the Glockenspiel that ought to play once an hour – however, to the employees of nearby venues huge dismay, the bells usually go off about once every fifteen minutes, to accommodate most tourists that want to enjoy the attraction.
Böttcherstraße was once the center of coppers in Bremen, and an important link between the city center and the harbour on the Weser river. Once the harbour moved, the importance of the street faded and the street deteriorated. Most of the current buildings were erected in the 1920’s, just to be destroyed at the end of WWII. Since then, German banks have played a major part of restoration of the street, which once again offers a touristic attraction.
Bremen is completely cluttered with statues. If you find this particular art form interesting, you will love it here. They are everywhere – in parks, on buildings, on squares, even perched onto houses, like the one already pictured in Schnoor. Most are quite interesting – the pig herder on Sögestraße, for instance, marks the place where Bremen’s many pig sties once were located. Now, Sögestraße is a high street, full of shops and boutiques, but the herder reminds passers-by about Bremen’s less wealthy history.
The most famous is the Roland statue on Marktplatz. Roland, the first Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne and hero of the Battle of Roncevaux Pass, is known as the protector of the city. The statue dates back to 1404, being one of the oldest in town.
Statues along Bremer Dom are quite interesting, even if not individually famed. Seems almost arbitrary – the lion, the chaplain and the knight, all in different styles and materials.
Noteworthy are the statues on the roof of the Hauptbahnhof, alongside the stone frescoes depicting the coat of arms of the four major cities that are bound by the train station – Bremen, Hannover, Hamburg and Oldenburg.
All and all, Bremen is a nice city to visit over the weekend. The nightlife is rather calm – during my visit, an important football match was played, a gay rights demonstration was held, and the annual Easter Fair took place, yet all was calm. True, the square outside of the Hauptbahnhof is full of youngsters, drifting around, and there is a fair share of homeless and excluded from society in Bremen as well – as in any major city. However, Bremen feels safe and calm and almost sleepy. The restaurants are filled with people, the cafés are open till late and there’s a warm welcoming atmosphere surrounding the city.
Once is enough. I liked it here, the city fully lived up to advertised sights and I got my fair share of Canon moments. Would I return? No. There is too much of the world to see. Do I regret coming? No, not at all. Bremen is worth a stop, a full day, maybe even a lazy weekend. It’s a nice city to be lazy in.