A trip down memory lane today. I am thinking of Bremen again.
I visited Bremen back in 2008 for my friend, Sid’s stag do.
Unfortunately, that marriage ended in divorce.
One thing we are all thankful about his marriage was the fact we visited Bremen for his stag 🙂
Bremen was a revelation.
Circa 2012, good news is that he’s getting engaged to be married this summer.
Just after the Euro 2012 championships.
Time to go back to Bremen maybe Sid?
Bremen was not the most obvious place to go for a stag weekend in the summer.
We were dreaming of something altogether hedonistic like Amsterdam, Riga.
Somewhere warm like Nice, Barcelona or Greece.
Unfortunately Ryanair cheapest flights from Edinburgh cater to a very select range of destinations where there is no prospect of the sun or sand or sangria.
So when you tick those off the list , the next important criteria was that wherever we decided to go we could reach there from Edinburgh relatively cheap plus have a cheap place to crash at night.
Which meant more beer money. Or Guinness money.
Delete according to nationality
Strip clubs and casinos were not on the agenda-the groom had politely requested that to be exempt from the proceedings which we quite respectfully accepted.
Using the tried and trusted Skyscanner cheap flight search engine revealed Bremen as the only cheap choice available flying from Edinburgh on the dates 27th June -30 June 2008- £10 return per person –wow, cheap. ( PS: Those were the days of really cheap flights with Ryanair… )
Choice of accommodation was limited and pricey- so I toyed with the idea of renting an apartment given we were 3 people.
After a few emails back and forth in pigeon English from some of the private agencies I discovered ‘Cinema Rooms’ an apartment on top of the local cinema, slap bang in the middle of Bremen hippest district- the Das Viertel.
At a price of 60 euros a night for the 3 of us it sounded perfect.
I must admit we weren’t overall quite hyped up about visiting Bremen.
From the guide books- precious little of I could glean from the Lonely Planet Germany and some travel forums, I was given the nightmare vision that the four musicians of Bremen would be greeting us up from every window.
The only bonus seemed to be that it was a compact place which we could cover by foot- it was ‘schon klein’ –the German equivalent of our much abused English phrase ‘Good things come in little packages.’
Bremen and Germany, I must admit was a surprise.
Friday night is a bit different in Bremen from your usual in Britain.
No rowdy, bawdy masses of hunting stags and layers of bulging feline flesh to be seen.
11pm and there is not one drunk person in sight in the Das Viertel.
Where were they hiding?
However that doesn’t mean that anyone wasn’t drinking or out in the town. There were crowds of people on the streets . A blend of young and old , all dressed very dapper and tres chic, spilling onto the pavement from the bars.
Like their Mediterranean counterparts many were still dining at this late hour, eating al fresco on candlelit tables.
I can’t put my finger on it but there was this overall sense of communal harmony which felt quite nice for a change for a Friday night out.
The choice of food and places to eat were varied and budget friendly- first night I splashed out on an Italian diner- Spaghetti Carbonara washed down by a glass of Prosecco followed by a delicious Tiramisu all for 10 euros.
Following night given the copious amounts of alcohol consumption we planned, a meaty, filling special doner kebab. Given the sizeable the Turkish migrant population in Germany this was the closest we were going to savour the local cuisine unless we were going to stuck into some currywurst.
The first day we explored the city at a leisurely pace. About a 20 minute stroll from Das Viertel takes you into the centre of time and for the less energetic there is a regular tram service .
We soon found ourselves under one of the pavement cafes sipping on the local Becks ( Sid with his hot chocolate) in the heart of the Aldstadt .
Bremen’s Markt is very ornate and pretty. From where we were sitting the view was dominated by the twin towers of the Dom St Petri and also the equally impressive Rathaus.
Lightheaded after a few Becks we got up and felt we needed some exercise and culture.
We muscled in, obligatory digital camera in hand between a group of highly excitable Japanese tourists to see what the commotion was about. We suddenly looked up and found ourselves dwarfed by a tall statuesque Knight towering before us .
The 13m high statue represents the Knight Roland –supposedly it is the tallest representation of Germany’s freedom loving Knight. As we turned away there was out first fated glimpse of the famed Town Musicians of Bremen in their famous pose and took a few more obligatory ‘We were in Bremen’ snaps.
Having paid homage to Bremen’s most famous citizens we shifted back to lazy tourist mode and started concerning about where the next drop of Becks would come from.
After an aimless stroll we found ourselves in the carnival like ‘Schlachte’ -a colourful promenade on the banks of the Weser River. To clear our heads we boarded a cruise where we soaked in the very pleasant midday sun and in between fed our brains with interesting titbits of Bremen’s history. Mind you this was all in German so we nodded her heads most of time in unison with the rest, the only time our heads perked up was when we passed the Becks factory and drank in the strong waft of hops blowing across us.
Ambling off the cruise we found ourselves a lovely ice cream bar and one ice cream after another we ended up pigged out there for the rest of the afternoon, gratefully lapping up the sun and reserving every ounce of energy for our nocturnal beerfest.
Bremen nightlife isn’t much to write about. There are many bars. The Irish bar. The Spanish Bar. The Tackno Bar.
Maybe because we dared not to venture out into the heart of where the party is-a street called Rembertiring.
There had been stories of numerous stabbing incidents around that time so we being two Asians and an Irishman we played it safe in the beginning of the evening and stuck it out at the Spanish Bar and followed it up with a bit of headbanging music at the Tackno Bar.
South Indian tache man: Looked like something like this dude….
After that I got into a conversation with a big tache south Indian guy at the local Kebab diner –in the very drunk conversation that followed there is only line that that sticks in my mind-
“ Baaaat weeeel let me tell you maan da girls arrr ot ot ot at dis place.’
The ‘ot ot ot’ nightclub he was referring to was near the train station.
Somehow in our merry stupor we reached near the Hauptbahnhof at another legendary Irish Bar.
It was called Paddy’s Pit which my friend, Paddy was excited to discover..
On the moment of arrival in the Pit we were made to feel at home with some free shots of something vile.
In between we had a very bitter pint of Guinness. It never travels well.
We followed this with another choice selection of vile sounding shot cocktails- Slippery nipples and Buttery Nipples if I remember correctly.
By the time we left the pit we were literally flying.
Few hundred yards across from Paddy’s we saw a big queue outside a nightclub with flashy neon lights and decided to head there. In the queue we bumped into our South Indian kebab boy who true to his word was living it large with a bevy of ‘ot ot ot girls’ on both arms.
Thinking we had reached the temple of Venus we eagerly dived in only to be met with an empty dancefloor with flashing pink strobe lights. Thinking the dancefloor might ot up later we headed to the bar and drinking ourselves silly with 2 euro drink offer of the night- Martini with lemonade.
Rest of the night is a bit of a letdown. Of what we can remember .
I remember the dancefloor not otting up later – even the sudden appearance of the South Indian fella with his ‘ot ot ot babes’ didn’t seem to liven our spirits.
Sipping away on the rank tasting Martini cocktails we seemed to start seeing things clearly.
On closer examination we realised that the ‘ot ot ot’ girls butt thrusting the South Indian Eros were rather a group of butch looking Turkish crossdressers.
Deciding we needed a different view we stumbled into an empty second dancefloor where I got second wind and started some very tacky tackno musak moves.
The last abiding memory is me having a bit of a mental fit at Sid whose pupils I vividly remember being quite opaque and starry by now. I was apparently upset with him that he had never heard Europe’s Final Countdown’ which I had requested the DJ to play.
Next day was a bit of a drunken haze.
Hangovers hang over too long once you hit the 30’s.
We relaxed in similar vein in one of many Bremen’s lush green parks.
After we busted a lung and fitted in some souvenir shopping in the picturesque ‘Schnoor’ area where every shop window and house looks like out of a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale book.
It was our second and last night and a very memorable one because it was the night of the Euro 2008 final between Germany and Spain. When we booked the holiday we hadn’t planned on Germany reaching the final so it was unexpected bonus to be watching the game.
The atmosphere on the streets around the Das Viertel was electric. A real sense of feverish excitement.
Cars with the national flag passed us honking away like mad, masses of kids in the German National football strip were all milling around on the street since the afternoon kicking around ball and playing out the final in their minds, the kebab joints were temporarily transferred into steamy Turkish hammams where the Turks seem to be hotly debating the chances of the efficient Germans against the might of the skilful Spaniards.
We followed the steady stream of crowds into a local polytechnic which had a selection of big screens. We just managed to squeeze in and were astounded at the number of people there-every vantage point had been secured. There were lots of boisterous Germans shouting away but a very sizeable noisy minority of Spanish were making themselves heard and pouring las ketchup over their currywurst singing any crap.
The night was one to forget for the German as Spain triumphed through the individual brilliance of Torres goal. It was a sad sight after all the pre match hype and commotion.
Streams of tears dousing the black, yellow and red cheeks while on the flip side the motley crowd of Spanish in toreros style were thursting the red and yellow of their national flag in their crestfallen faces. Surprisingly and gladly there was no bull like angry reaction.
The Bremeners sportingly accepted the defeat.
After a period of mourning and chanting the Werder Bremen anthem they soon they abandoned their despair and one big fiesta impromptly assembled at the main junction of the das Viertel.
Cars honking, bikes blaring their horns, stereos with cracked speakers tonking out a big dollop of Las Ketchup and Tackno mixed in for extra tacky German emotion.
We were understandbly weary after all the emotion of the game and after plus the effects of our hangover so we wisely went to bed. Next day midday we headed back to the Airport under sunny skies-overall it had been a great stag do. Unexpectedly fun.
I guess I didn’t see much of Bremen but I felt we discovered the hip spirit of young germany , a more lighter, relaxed side opposed to the uptight stereotype we have of them in Britain.
Cinema Rooms- Private Gästezimmer
(0173)61 28 293
Frau Elke Menkens
E-mail: [email protected]