I’ve been to many a city in Germany, but my favourite by far is always Bremen. Perhaps because I studied there as a teenager, perhaps because it really is charming – I don’t know. To me, nothing compares to it, not even bustling Berlin.
Being my favourite and all, you’d be surprised to find out that I haven’t actually been there since graduating university, some seven years ago. Well, that sort of changed this weekend. My boyfriend has been visiting me for the past couple of weeks, and last weekend, we decided to do something very spontaneous: we booked last minute tickets to go to Bremen for the day.
Can I just preface this whole thing by saying that I suddenly love the idea of travelling for day-trips by train? Trains are such an underrated (albeit, a little overpriced) mode of transportation. Our train was an inter-city express one, and we got from Berlin to Bremen in about 3 hours. But in-between those three hours, we enjoyed comfy seats, a dinning table between us where we could play board games during the trip, and WiFi and charging stations galore. The last two perks came particularly in handy as we were muscling through three seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender within the week.
Anyways, as always, I digress.
We made on our way to Bremen at 6am, and arrived there, punctually at 9. When we arrived, the Bremen Central Train Station, which once felt so big and intimidating, suddenly felt small. I know it wasn’t due to the fact that I’d grown taller, because in the years since graduation I’d also grown thinner (#freshman15). We immediately made our way to the Bremen suburbs, and 20 minutes later, we were in my old college town.
Despite having last been there 7 years ago, everything felt instantly familiar. I knew the way, I recognised the houses. The university felt a bit closer to the train station than I remembered (or, maybe now in Berlin I’m used to larger distances and everything in comparison feels close). The university itself was just as beautiful and pristine as it had been during my time. Really, I’d say it’s the most beautiful campus in continental Europe. As expected though, it was completely empty. Corona had left its impact there as well.
After this little visit down memory lane, we made our way back to the city. Again, everything felt familiar, and everything felt just a little different. It had been seven years of course. There seemed to be some new buildings, and it was definitely less lively than pre-COVID times, but Bremen was just as beautiful as it had always been. We did the main sights at Domsheide, the Rathaus, and the Bremen Town Musicians (I of course rubbed the lucky donkey’s feet for good luck).
Afterwards, we made our way to the most beautiful bit of Bremen (and Germany, in my opinion): the Schnoor Viertel! Schnoor I’d say is like Disney land in real life. It’s a tiny quarter of the city, full of tiny colourful houses that house shops with handmade goodies and homey cafes. Everything was closed, but the sun did peek out for a while to greet us while we were exploring.
Following Schnoor, we went to the Viertel, which is Bremen’s hip area with bars and stuff. I never liked that bit. It felt very Berlin-y to me then, and felt very Berlin-y now. But, by now it was 12pm and we had accidentally already seen everything, so we were trying to stretch out time by doing other things too.
After lunch, and after another quick stroll by the riverside, we ended up getting some afternoon coffee and cake and sat in the pretty town center. There’s free WiFi there for university students, and my Berlin university credentials worked too! We got our headphones out, and watched some more Avatar while enjoying our cake.
In the end, we made our way back by train, and enjoyed the journey just as much as the destination.
What a lovely adventure it was.
Two thoughts we kept having whilst travelling during the pandemic:
- Do we wear masks? In Berlin, you only wear masks in public transportation and shops. When we arrived in Bremen, our silly touristy selves noticed that everybody was wearing masks in public, period. We were a bit unsure of the rules and couldn’t find a reliable source to confirm. In the end, we just did as the locals did.
- Where do we use the toilet? Everything is closed, and so are all toilets. We spent a good chunk of coins and steps hunting down public restrooms around Bremen just to relieve our bladders a bit.