We arrived late into Bremen and due to the fact that we were staying at the rear of the airport, it made sense to get a taxi rather than a tram into ton and then back. The cost was reasonable at about 7€.
Managed to get water through customs and back again. So much for water based bombs and airport security.
The hotel greeted us with bizarre reminders of home. Not only is the local telephone number (0151) the same for Liverpool, but there were three football pennants in reception, Liverpool, Everton and amazingly, Tranmere Rovers.
A more cynical person than me would think that they had a supply of every team in Europe and they replace them when you leave the room - rather like the Liverpool supporting Greek owner of a bar in Crete who would don his LFC shirt to drum up business for his bar showing Live matches involving Liverpool and replace it with an Arsenal top when they played!
Although the local bars/restaurants were advertising closing times after midnight, none seemed to be open so a quick Becks was obtained from the kebab shop. Despite a few scoops in Manchester earlier in the day, the alcoholic effect was not sufficient to make a kebab seem tasty.
The room was down in the basement next to the vibrating washing machine and upon waking I realised we hadn't drawn the curtains so anyone passing at street level could get a good laugh if they wanted.
The walk into town was not too exhausting and consists of merely following along a main road. Due to the inclement weather it was decided that a tram ride back would be best. A day ticket costs only about 7€ for 2 adults and can be used with a number of children too. Ensure that the ticket is stamped on the tram each time it is used.
So, half an hour later, passing the Red Cross Hospital, crossing 2 bridges over the River Weser, and after the Bansky-esque graffiti, the city centre is found.
One thing to note that this city seems to have more cyclists than Amsterdam and it is easy to forget that the red lanes on the pavement are for two wheels rather than two feet.
One of Bremen's most famous features is the statue commemorating The Town Musicians (Die Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten) of Grimms Fairy Tales. The donkey, dog, cat and cockerel came together for the finals of X Factor and can be seen outside the entrance to the Ratskeller.
Whilst we were looking at this, there were TV cameras recording human versions of the animals for some unknown purpose. Yet again our acting abilities were ignored.
Roland is a gigantic statue in the town square. Roland is a popular legendary figure in Germany and other European cities. Bremen is proud of the size of theirs! Aren't we all?
One thing that we found strange was that notwithstanding the intermittent rain, there was a dearth of customers in the department shops of the town centre. Perhaps the economic factors are biting in Germany as much as elsewhere.
There were not many tourists in the town and one person we spoke to at length thought we were students - a bit of a bonus at our age!
Moving away from the town square with the Cathedral, parliament and statues, we visited the nearby quaint area called Schnoor. This is similar to the shambles in York and every nook and cranny contains a different experience from cafe bars and restaurants to craft shops and Christmas emporia.
Eric was thirsty by this time and after having sampled a Thueringen bratwurst in the square, the necessary lining was on the stomach for a goodly beer or two.
Purely by chance we stumbled upon the Comturei restaurant,[Ostertorstraße 30/32,
28195 Bremen.] which is in a 13th century crypt and was on my list compiled from the European Pub Guide. Here we settled on two glasses (0.5l) of Stortebeker Schwartzbier, a tasty dark lager.
The Stortebeker pub itself is full of ship memorabilia. Strangely the stotebeker beer we had previously did not seem to be on so I settled on a Czech Staropramen dunkel for €3.70 which I’d not had before. They served food here with Italian a specialty.
Another interesting pub is the Spitzen Gebel. This is in a small area near the Schuttinger brewery, referred to as the Bottcherstrasse, the entrance of which has a golden frieze from 1936 paying tribute to a certain Austrian water colour specialist.
The pub came as a bit of a surprise when entering as a plume of smoke escaped from the small saloon bar as the door was opened. There is a sign on the door announcing that this is one of the last vestiges of the smoker. Germany has not brought in complete bans on smoking and there are different rules in different states.
As this is a small kneipe (local) pub, it is allowed to have cancer stick users. The great problem is its small size and the fact that obviously most people coming here are smokers. However, eventually the atmosphere became clearer as glasses of Haak Becks Pils were imbibed. We also had an interesting conversation (partly in German) with a local guy, who was married to a woman from South America.
Although the beer was standard fare, this was one of the highlights of the trip due to the atmosphere and friendliness. We did find some people's demeanour a bit serious and sometimes frosty, but this was exemplary.
Whilst here, we found out that there was an exhibition of Helmut Newton's nudes (as I had seen a few years ago in Berlin) but we did not have time for this. Still, the brochure's very interesting!
We stumbled across a beer hall that looked like ones we had seen in Cologne. Lo and behold it was the Staendige Vertretung selling Sion Koelsch beer, and Erdinger Weissbier. The only problem with the Koelsch is that it comes in 0.2l glasses. The decor of the hall is amazing as most of the vast walls are covered in memorabilia from political history of the GDR and FDR. It was like being in Willy Brandt's study. The toilets were immaculate - hotel class - strangely I did not see anyone collecting as in other German cities.
The best pub by far was at the Schuettinger Brewery. This has been brewing since 1990 and the beer both Dunkles and Hellen was fresh and the best of the trip. The beer appeared to be dispensed straight from two mighty wooden barrels but given the position of the taps, this was probably for show. One guy opened a narrow opening beneath the copper mash tuns and was able to crawl underneath.
On our first visit we could not get in as there was a private party taking up the whole place, which is on 2 levels so it shows the popularity of this place. This looks like an ideal place to hold an early Xmas party. We also spotted a businessman cuddling a woman who may not have been his wife!
Well, it certainly looks like you went to quite a few pubs, a reader asks. Well. Our excuse was that the weather was a bit nippy and we had to seek shelter somewhere.
On a stroll along the riverside we noticed that the Christmas markets were being readied for December. We chance upon the Paulaner pub in this direction but did not venture in. The Becks brewery could be seen on the other side of the river but the hops could be smelt long before we noticed it in the night sky.
There is a tall ship moored on the quayside area Schlachte, which is the medieval harbour, called the Lord Nelson which is now used as a restaurant.
On the third day we decided to take a tram ride to the Weserstadion, home of Euro Champions League qualifiers, Werder Bremen. Unfortunately, due to mistakenly believing that the number 6 tram terminated there we missed the stop by miles and had a long stroll alongside the autobahn parallel to the river.
Not many people were around and the ground did not look particularly impressive from the exterior view. Indeed, we were unable to circumnavigate the stadium due to a fence around the side. The club Fan shop is stsandard and I managed to pick up a Werder mobile dongle which lights up when someone calls. Such fun! We had hoped to catch a Bundesliga game but unfortunately none was scheduled during our stay.
Coupled with our failure to spot Bremen icon, James Last this provided a bit of a disappointment.
Some bizarre things in Bremen: