Backpacking to Bremen

Germany has always been high on my travel bucket list. Growing up, we always thought our heritage was mostly German. That is until we began to dig into the records a bit more, as well as taking the Ancestry DNA tests and finding out we are much less German than we thought. Even so, the country had always been one I wanted to visit. Detailed written history from the Roman Empire forward makes the country all the more intriguing and enticing to see.

The idea behind my trip was to backpack my way from Denmark to the Netherlands. I failed, however, to take into account just how short my trip was going to be. As I was doing my research on train routes and interesting/beautiful cities, I realized that of the few days I had, most would be spent in Denmark and the Netherlands. I really wanted to try to spend two days in Germany, but it seemed I would only have one. This made planning interesting because I needed to decide on one German city to visit. This proved to be slightly difficult as there is so much to see. I was really torn between Lübeck, Hamburg, and Bremen, with a few cities like Osnabrück and Oldenburg in the running as well.

The images I found were really what pushed me to visit Bremen over the others. Not only was it a good midway point between Copenhagen and Amsterdam, but the photos I saw were also beautiful. The plaza located in the old part of town looked gorgeous. The town hall and statue out front are both UNESCO World Heritage sites. I started reading about the history of the city, including its role in the Hanseatic League.

I boarded the train from Copenhagen pretty early in the morning in order to get to Bremen with enough time to explore before dark. I remember passing through Lübeck and seeing the tops of some of the older buildings and wishing I had time to stop for a bit. My hostel wasn’t far from the train station as well as being only about five minutes from the town center. After dropping off my backpack and locking up my valuables, I headed into town.

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The first thing I did when I entered the old city was to visit the tourist office to buy a ticket for a tour of the 600-year-old town hall, as that was the only way to see the interior. The side of the building facing the square is breathtaking. Much of the design dates from the Gothic and Renaissance periods, though some of the extra ornamental work was added in competition to the buildings across the square. Once inside, the main portion of the tour takes place on the second level. The walls are covered in wood paneling and murals. The entire room is intricately decorated and one could spend hours examining all of the details carved or painted into the wood. I highly recommend taking the tour because the guides teach you not only about the history of the building itself but of the city and why it was so important.

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I was done with the tour around 5 pm, and most of the monuments were closed or closing, so I decided just to walk around the city to find a place to eat. I walked through Schnoor, which is the Medieval quarter of the city, with narrow streets, restaurants, shops, and tourists. Unfortunately, it was quite crowded so I didn’t stay long, but it was fun to get to see how a Medieval German town may have looked.

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I made my way down to the banks of the Weser to see the beer gardens and to grab something to eat. I stopped at one of the kiosks and ordered currywurst and a beer and sat down at one of the outdoor tables close to the wall. Though the trading port of the city has long since moved, I enjoyed sitting and looking at what was once the most important feature of the city. I may or may not have had a couple of orders of currywurst while I sat. It was so delicious I couldn’t help myself.

I ended up going back to the hostel pretty early that night because I wanted to try to wake up early the next day to see the city without other people around. On my way, I heard two voices ringing out over the brick and cobbled streets in tight harmony. As I walked away, I found myself brought to happy tears. Every once in a while, it really hits me that I’ve decided to make experiences like this my life.

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Very early the next morning, I made my way back into town to get some pictures. To get into town from the hostel where I was staying, I had to cross over the old moat that protected the city long ago. The sun hadn’t been up for too long so the sky was still full of color which reflected off of the still water. The area lining the southwestern side of the water has been converted to a park which was very peaceful to walk at this time of day.

I will always continue to suggest waking up early during travel. Not only do you end up with more time to explore, but there is rarely more than a few people milling about. When I compared the pictures of the town center I had taken the night before, the ones I had taken the next morning were so much better. I didn’t have to worry about hiding other people or bodies distracting from the focal point. I knew none of the buildings would be open which was disappointing because I never got to see the interior of the cathedral, but it was still worth the time for the pictures.

I continue to look forward to the next time I get to visit Germany, and I’m thoroughly glad I made Bremen my halfway point. The architecture is beautiful, the history is fascinating, the food was delicious, and the atmosphere welcoming and exciting. I hope to return one day to see the interior of the cathedral and to once again sit beside the Wesser for more currywurst!

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