Like much of Europe, Bremen has a well-stocked cabinet of ancient buildings and interesting avenues. After a quick visit to Berlin for an interview I took a morning train to the port city for a talk with Lufthansa student pilots I had first met in Arizona. I also went to Groepeling to profile an Elternschule, classes for poor, young parents. Despite the requisite rain, Bremen offered some tid bits of interest.
Shortly after the Elternschule interviews, the school’s administrator drove me through the “real Bremen,” away from the exotic (not) city centre filled with tourists. Just outside the area shown on tourist maps is an area known as the Viertel (quarter) and residents were preparing for Viertelfest. Frankfurt had just wrapped up its fest when I arrived there…each evening consisting of many portable beer kiosks and live music.
I walked to the Kunsthalle and saw an exhibition of water-themed paintings, though the 8 Euro admission was not worth the experience. Let’s hope I’m a little more learned. I continued walking toward the city centre, and climbed a hill. There were benches in a semi-circle, a statue of a woman and children, some sort of outdoor altar? and a view of the Weser, the channel which connects Bremen to the sea in the North.
I hadn’t eaten yet for the day, so I stopped to partake in the “Mac Menu” promotion. Americans famililar with McDonald’s will know this as a “number 1.” I walked through the corridors leading to numerous markets and inner courtyards. Merchants selling fruit and various unnecessary souvenirs were posted around an ancient-looking church. Some of the merchant tables were nearly in the church, bringing to mind a Biblical story or two…but that’s life here, apparently.
Numerous times during my stay in Bremen I was “warned” about the Turkish immigrants, and about how I need to hold on to my bags, and pay special attention around the main train station–where my hotel was. I saw only a few Turkish folks, but many mohawk, piercing, leather-sporting punks hitting up regular Joe’s for money. I wasn’t warned about the punks, though.
I had dinner and drinks at a local tavern and learned German etiquette in restaurants:
- A server won’t take only one person’s plate from the table…both need to be done before the table is cleared.
- If your empty glass sits in front of you, a server will ask only once if you want something else–you’re then free to continue visiting until you want to leave.
- The server won’t offer or bring the check until you want it.
- Even though Beck’s is a Bremen-brewed beer, its sale to inBev has lead many places to serve anything but Beck’s. I enjoyed Duckstein.
It was a nice stop through Bremen, with limited exposure to the “Bremen town musicians” and a cursory view of its Hanseatic past–being a major trading city. Maybe that’s what the punks are doing…ensuring a free flow of money to stimulate the economy. Or maybe they’re just criminals.