Apart from the awful commercials, what do Beck's and St. Pauli Girl, two of the most-recognized German beers exported to the states, have in common? Answer: They are both brewed in Bremen.
That was hardly the reason I wanted so badly to go there, why Bremen had been so high on my "list" for Germany for so long. The Cold War relationship between the US and this city-state was built on Bremen's strategic location and its massive port facilities that the US would have used should World War III have broken out. Some of my older colleagues who were in the US military at the time were stationed in Bremen and fondly remembered it. Perhaps the only drawback was the severity of the winters. Well, I didn't take that chance. I had an opportunity to visit on a sunny weekend near the end of summer and took it.
The city-state of Bremen was really two cities about a half-hour drive apart on the Weser River -- the city of Bremen and the port of Bremerhaven. Bremen had the majority of the industry, while Bremerhaven was the primary shipyard. All the land in between the two cities were part of the province of Niedersachsen, odd but that's the way it was.
Like most of western Germany's larger cities, Bremen rose very quickly from the ashes of World War II. Some of its charming old quarters remained or were given a complete restoration, but beyond the old market squares the city was very much modernized. It had numerous museums and science parks, like the Universum Science Center in the second photograph. Moreover, it was a major university city with all the youthful energy one would expect.
Indeed, I saw fairly quickly why Bremen was so fondly remembered by my colleagues. I would certainly love to go back and visit more of the museums and stroll the Weser Promenade a little more. My weekend's travels have been broken out into three chapters, as depicted on the graphic shown here. I devote an entire travelogue to the port city of Bremerhaven, focusing on its ship museums and Weser promenade. Bremen gets two chapters -- one focused on the Altstadt and Schnoor Districts on the northeast bank of the Weser, the other covering the Buergerpark and Wallenlagen further away. The Schnoor Quarter was the most charming part of Bremen, a medieval style village with tight winding streets and loaded with souvenir shops and terrific eateries. In the Altstadt, you will find the terrific Rathaus guarded by the famous Knight Roland and the Bremen Town Musicians -- a sculpture of four animals inspired by a famous Grimm Brothers tale. The Wallenlagen was a park built between the old city wall and the Stadtgraben, the series of V-shaped moats guarding the Altstadt, while the Burgerpark being the largest park in the city that extends to the grounds of the University. The chapter also covers the Stadthalle, the grounds of the convention center.
I hope you enjoy this set of travelogues as much as I enjoyed visiting Bremen!
Trips taken 6-7 September 2003 -- Page last updated 24 August 2006 -- (C) 2003 Tom Galvin