We were beyond sad to leave Asia after more than a year, and the only consolation was that we were not yet headed home, but to Europe! Our first destination was Bremen in Germany, where my old Brazilian roommate currently lives. It was quite exciting to have old friends around us after being on our own on the road for so long.
After landing in Frankfurt, we took a scenic train ride to Bremen (back on good ol’ DB!). Rolling vineyard hills, small middle-age castles and clear blue skies welcomed us to this part of the world. We couldn’t stop looking out the window and marveling at how different everything looked as compared to what we have been used to seeing this past year. Our arrival in Bremen couldn’t have been better as my old roommate was waiting for us with some finely crafted German beer. The next day, another friend of mine who’s living in Berlin joined the party.
A small town in northern Germany, Bremen may not be on the top of most travelers’ lists out there, but it was worth the visit. The charming town had small alleys and typical German-style buildings, but most importantly for us, it was a chance to see far-away friends in person.
Bremen Town Musicians
Perhaps the most famous story about Bremen is the one about its town musicians. The folktale tells the story of a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster, all of whom were past their prime age and usefulness to their owners in their respective farms. One by one, they left their farms and found each other along the way. Deciding to head towards Bremen, known for its freedom, they become musicians.
Even though the musicians took a detour and never made it to Bremen, the city is still famous for the tale. An iconic statue of the four animals lies in the city center. Another tale says that whoever touches the front hooves of the donkey would return to Bremen another time – I touched them in 2011, during my first visit to Bremen, and now, four years later, I’m back to the city. Let’s see if the tale holds true for a second time.
Mühle Am Wall
One of the most attractive sights in Bremen is the Mühle Am Wall. The 1898 windmill lies in the middle of the Wallanlagen Park, which is a great place for a stroll. The little paths in the park take you through areas covered in dense forest up to an open field covered with flowers and on the top of the hill, the old windmill stands tall.
The weather in Bremen was not ideal – regular afternoon rains and cloudy overcasts for the rest of the day. However, during our walk through Wallanlagen Park, the sun came out to make a rare appearance, blessing us with warmth and natural lighting for photographs.
From fishermen’s quarter to the red-light district to the shopping cottages, the winding alleys of Schnoor are the oldest quarter in Bremen, dating back to the 15th century. It’s easy to spend a few hours wandering through this maze of boutique shops and cafes, while letting the sight of old German architecture sink in.
Sluk ut de Lamp
While strolling through the old town, my roommate suggested that we go for a tasting of what is perhaps the most famous drink in Bremen, Sluk ut de Lamp (“swing from the lamp”). The drink recipe comes from a Swedish doctor who lived for more than 100 years. The doctor left the recipe as a secret to the rest of his family, who also lived for more than 100 years. Since then, this drink has been considered to be an elixir of youth and longevity, which is still a family secret.
The Spitzen Gebel bar is the place in Bremen for Sluk ut de Lamp. Sitting briefly in the small bar, we ordered a round that was poured directly from a lamp. We all cheered and took in the strong and potent drink. It was an interesting experience and who knows, maybe it will lengthen our lives.
Those were the sightseeing highlights of our week in Bremen. For me, it was really nice to see some of my childhood friends in Germany (of all places) and walk through the alleys of Bremen once again. We’ve forgotten how great it feels to be surrounded by friends, by people who know and care about you. Europe was already off to an awesome start! Next up, a first for both of us – Stockholm, Sweden!
For more pictures from Bremen, please visit the gallery!