Bremen is a lot of fun
Bremen Travel Blog› entry 82 of 117 › view all entries
I had been looking forward to visit Bremen for a long time and you could like many people I know wonder why. The reason for me was quite evident; I had been passing by Bremen numerous of times and even stayed in the outskirts but I had never visited the city center that also is a UNESCO site. This time I was again heading for my favourite Brussels but I had decided to stay one night in Bremen city centre. I was driving to Brussels because I had a meeting for work during Monday and I was travelling with my friend Gert. I had booked a hotel near the city center as possible because it was there that I was going to spend my time. The traffic down was quite calm and I was in Bremen just 5 hours after I left my office.
The Hilton Bremen was located almost next to the river and only 200 meter from the Town Square or the Am Markt as it is called. Our hotel was located on Böttcherstrasse 2 but the entrance was actually in Wachtstrasse and as we were driving we went directly into the parking garage under the hotel from the Wachtstrasse. The parking was quite large but the parking spaces for the cars were quite small but I managed to squeeze my car in between a couple of cars and we took the elevator to the reception area. I had booked a twin room for us and I was given a room to the second floor. The reception area was quite small but the center of the ground floor was pretty nice, as they had a huge bar and restaurant area under a bright glass roof. The girl in the reception that by the way spoke a perfect English found my reservation quite fast and they had even registered that I was a member.
The room was nice but a bit small; I guess I have gotten spoiled by travelling a lot in USA this year where all the rooms are huge. There were two nice single beds, a little desk with a flat screen and an armchair. The room wasn't facing anything interesting and since it was only second floor there were not much light in the room. The room was in a soft yellow tone and the bathroom was small but had what you needed. I was as such not impressed with the room but it worked well and we were not going to spend much time there anyway. One thing that I found quite annoying was that there were no free Wi-Fi and the one that you could hook up to was Telecom and they charged 22 € for 24 hours, which I found was too much, so ended up with dropping it completely.
My friend took a cup of coffee in the room while I had been trying to get to the internet but we were not going to hang out in the room so we quickly finished all our things and left the hotel heading for Am Markt and the Town Hall, which I personally had looked forward to. Sometimes you just walk by a place and then you back up to see what you almost missed. It was exactly like this when I walked by the immensely little bar named Spitzen Gebel that was situated in a little alley next to the neighbouring hotel. The name of the bar referrers to the pointy shape of the late Gothic pointed gables, which actually was the thing that caught my eye between the large neighbouring houses.
The little house looks like the last standing survivor of the Middle Ages and it is actually the last remaining medieval town house of this Hanseatic city.
We headed for Am Markt and it turned out to be a stunning place. The square houses some of the most spectacular sites in Bremen and the sun didn't make it more dull. To me the most impressive was the fabulous Town Hall, which along with the Bremen Roland statue was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2004.
The new facade was built in the style of the Weser Renaissance, and it features architectural elements based on masters of the Dutch Renaissance. Exactly 100 years ago the Town Hall had constructed an extension at the back of the building in the style of the Neo-Renaissance. One of the most remarkable things was that this magnificent build avoided destruction during WWII, because the citizens of Bremen succeeded in protecting the building from the bombs largely by boarding up the outer walls.
Opposite the square the Chamber of Commerce is located, which is a quite new building that doesn't fit into the marvellous square. Another building that was quite remarkable on the square was Bremen Cathedral, with its 99 meter twin towers that are referred to as the north tower and the south tower. The towers were constructed flanking the main entrance portal on the west front of the church between 1215 and 1253. During the Middle Ages the towers had eight bells, but now there are only 4 left in the towers. The oldest surviving bell is the Maria Gloriosa, which was cast in 1433 by the famous bell maker Ghert Klinghe.
After having walked around the different squares for a while looking at the magnificent buildings we decided to get something to drink and eat. I would have loved to go down and eat in basement of The Bremen Ratskeller but it was only their outdoor service was open so we took that one and it suited also the best while there still were some sun. The Bremen Ratskeller is actually the council wine cellar of the Town Hall of Bremen.
On the west side of the square and next to the outdoor place we were hanging out, the famous sculpture The Town Musicians of Bremen by Gerhard Marcks was displayed. The sculpture is commemorating a folktale recorded by the Brothers Grimm and the funny thing is that despite the title of the fairy tale, the characters never actually arrive in Bremen. We left the statue after some nice shots including a guy with holes in his sock kneeing in front of it. The first place we headed for was Beck's Bistro Am Markt that turned out to be a nice place to hang around in. It was primarily a restaurant inside but we only went for a beer there before we headed on.
The next place that we entered was the Spitzen Gebel that we had passed just after we left the hotel and by just stepping in to it we almost stepped straight into the bar; the place was just as small as it looked from the outside.
Böttcherstrasse was something special with its shows and magnificent brick and tile work on the buildings. Böttcherstrasse is only about 100 meters long, and it is famous for its unusual architecture and ranks among the city's main cultural landmarks and visitor attractions.
The history of Böttcherstrasse goes back to the Middle Ages because it was an important link between the market square and the Weser river. It was traditionally inhabited by coopers (Böttcher). In 1902 Ludwig Roselius under pressure from the previous owners, bought the house at 6 Böttcherstrasse, which today is the Museum im Roselius-Haus and made it the headquarters of his company.
In 1931 the Haus Atlantis was completed, with its distinctive style and materials (glass, steel and concrete). The house was a further striking contrast to the other structures and at time he also erected The Robinson-Crusoe-Haus. In 1944, large proportions of Böttcherstrasse were destroyed but by 1954, the Kaffee HAG company had restored most of the facades to their original state.
One thing that has to be stated to this Ludwig Roselius was that he was a sympathiser of National Socialism and he pursued Völkisch-Nordic cultural ideas, involving a belief in the irreplaceable value of the Nordic race.
Near the end of Böttcherstrasse there was a great bar named Die STÄNDIGE VERTRETUNG (StäV). The StäV was another wonderful place with loads of locals and with great ambiance and atmosphere. It is a place famed for sticking to the Rhenish culture, carnival, Rhenish specialities such as "Himmel un Äd" or Kölsch beer. I found the StäV to be a quite interesting place; (StäV) relates to the name « Ständige Vertretung » that is closely related to recent German history.
After having spent some beers and a carry wurst in there, we decided to head back to towards the hotel area so we went back again to the Spitzen Gebel for a couple of the last ones. We ended up having a bunch of the magnificent Haake Beck beer and at one point a couple told us that we could not have been in the bar without tasting the most famous drink in town "Sluk ut de lamp". We had no idea at the time what we were getting in on but we were always fresh especially after a handful of beers or more. It turned out that the stuff that was poured out of a lamp on the wall was some kind of a bitter like the horrible Danish Gammel Dansk. We are quite used to taste stuff like this but I think that for people who haven't tasted stuff like this since their 18th birthday will hate it.
The whole concept of "Sluk ut de Lamp" descends back from two different things that in some strange way ends up with a horrible bitter in a lamp. The beer distributor Adolf Ulbrich sold the house way back in 1913 to a company Vereinigten Klavierträger or in plain English "United piano carriers" as an office building. Because the piano movers were not allowed to drink any alcohol during their waiting time for their next transport, they came up a clever idea to cheat their manager. They rebuilt a normal lantern lamp into a bottle and filled it with sweet herb schnapps. Since then the movers were always ready for a drink and no one found out how they were able to have a constant relief and pleasure drinking snaps.
I have no idea how the wonderful snaps got turned into the strange bitter but I am pretty sure that it was not this that they had constructed their lamp or lantern for.