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Trip Report: Chasing A Band in Bremen

In mid-March, I took a short trip to Bremen, Germany. As with my October trip to Germany (angry trip report here; real trip report here), I was once again trying to catch a German band as a reward for working far too many hours in the preceding months. This time, the band was Revolverheld. I saw them in May 2018 in Berlin at the Kreuzberg music venue Lido as a part of the band's “lounge tour;” now it was time to catch its “arena tour.” This would be my first concert in Europe in an arena.

Hotel: I went for convenience over authenticity on this short trip, staying at the Courtyard by the Bremen Hauptbahnhof (main train station). It was a great location for catching the train to day trip locales and for attending the concert, which was across the street from the hotel at the ÖVB Arena. The hotel is great, executing all things lodging pretty much perfectly, from the friendly front desk staff to the large, well-appointed rooms.

Local Transportation: Tram around Bremen. Trains for day trips. Taxi for the 4:30 am ride to the airport on my departure morning.

Food: I ate breakfast at the hotel with the exception of one morning (see below). I skipped lunch and, inspired by Fred’s post in the recent Scrimp and Splurge thread (and by my proximity), grabbed food in the train station for all my dinners.

Bremen: This was my second time in Bremen, following a 36-hour stop in the fall. Much of city was bombed flat during WWII, but there are still some spectacular buildings that remain, including the Rathaus (City Hall) and St. Petri Dom (St. Peter’s Cathedral). Since it doesn’t have “greatest hit” type attractions, Bremen does not seem over-touristed (though I was there on a cold March weekend) and feels like a place where most people are going about their daily business. My activities there included:

  • The TI’s 2-hour Saturday English Tour. This was a good tour for the price (€8,50). The guide took us through the medieval Schnoor District and the Old Town. We made a couple of stops to taste candy made by local companies and also visited an artist’s workshop.
  • Monuments. It was fun to see the Bremen Town Musicians, and the Bremen Roland (erected 1404) is an impressive protector of the city. I was particularly interested in the statue of Otto von Bismarck, the first chancellor of the unified German Empire. Bremen’s statue is the only one of von Bismarck on a horse, and it is curiously placed right next to St. Peter’s Cathedral. I’ve tried to research whether there is some significance to this placement, but what I’ve read seems to indicate that the town leaders just decided it looked good there.
  • A trip to the Central Library. I love libraries, and I’m a card-carrying member of the American Library Association (even though I’m not a librarian). Bremen’s central library is worth a visit for those who like such things. It’s located in the Forum am Wall, a redeveloped Neo-Renaissance-style former municipal police headquarters built in 1908. The library was well-used on the day I visited and had some rather creative uses of space.
  • A walk in Wallanlagen Park. As with many medieval towns/cities, the former ramparts have been converted into a greenbelt, which allowed for a relaxing stroll, including past a windmill. Being directionally-challenged, I missed my turn and ended up with a longer walk than I planned on a chilly late afternoon, but it all worked out. I passed a couple of groups enjoying the park while pulling a little cart of beer behind them.
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Lüneburg: This day trip was prompted by praise of the town by Forum member Fred that was confirmed by Russ and Susan K. I caught an early train to this town with a population of 75,000 or so that remarkably has never been destroyed by war, leaving it with impressive architecture. Apparently when the townspeople heard Napoleon was headed their way, they tore down the city defenses to save the town and welcomed him, rather than fighting him. Activities included:

  • Breakfast at Anna’s Café. This is a lovely café where the menu is pasted into children’s books. I got Disney’s Aristocats. Great breakfast. Reasonable price. No English speakers to bail me out.
  • Private tour with a TI-provided guide. Since I did the Bremen 2-hour Saturday English tour, I missed the Lüneburg tour for the week. The TI, though, helped set me up with a guide who provided an interesting (if not dynamic) tour through the major parts of the old town. As part of the tour, I did go in the Altes Rathaus and saw the stunning medieval (and subsequent) architecture inside; the time in the Altes Rathaus was a highlight of the entire trip. I also got to walk inside the Alter Kran (“old crane”), the wooden medieval crane in the old river port, which is normally locked up. The wooden inner-workings are simply amazing. A 2-year-old wandered up to the entrance of the crane as the guide was talking and made some 2-year-old noises; the guide turned around and chided the father for the 2-year-old making noises that disturbed her thinking. There’s a bit of German culture, for you.
  • Wandering the town. Architecture was great, but a cold, rainy day made me cut my wandering (and my visit to Lüneburg) short.
  • Sadly, no trip into the great looking book store near the central square. It was Sunday, so the bookstore was closed.

Bremerhaven: The port town on the North Sea seemed worthy of a visit. Given time constraints (concert that night!), I limited my visit to the harbor area. Activities included:

  • The Emigration Museum. Excellent museum that details Bremerhaven’s history as a port for those leaving Germany/Europe.
  • U-Boot Wilhelm Bauer. This U-boat was completed in 1945 but never saw combat. Its crew scuttled it so that it would not fall into the hands of the Allies. The West Germans raised it, repaired it, and used it in their Navy for training. Now retired, it rests in the Old Harbor, where one can walk through this very interesting piece of history. Being a WWII history buff, I loved it!
  • A Harbor Tour. I took a 60-minute boat tour of the harbor narrated in German. It was pretty amazing to get up close to the enormous shipping boats, including those used to transport cars (and to watch the cars come on and off the boats).

Concert: Awesome. There were a few things different from US shows (like the teenagers staged at the various entrances to the arena selling soft pretzels from the enormous baskets strapped to each of them or the beer cart with a light on it making its way through the Stehplatz prior to the show). Nevertheless, it was a great show.

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Thanks for an enlightening and detailed report.

I'm glad you went to Lüneburg even though the weather prevented you from enjoying the place even more, a town well worth one's time, and one of my top favourite towns in Germany...a lovely place to relax, spend down-time, especially on a week-end, and dep point for day trips to Hamburg, Lauenburg an der Elbe, into the Holstein area, or southwards to Celle

I went to Lüneburg on my first trip to Europe and Germany in 1971, took a day trip there from Lübeck, explored the town plus heading to see the history museum, which was my main purpose originally.

Did you see the East Prussian Museum?

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I have to admit I did not make it to the East Prussian Museum. By mid-day, I was cold and grumpy, to be honest. So, I caught a train back to Bremen and hung around the hotel where I read and drank warm things. I shall return some day and hit the museum. I hope to do a Hamburg trip in the next few years.

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Nice report. Makes me want to go back, it was so long ago when we visited Bremen and the surrounding area.

If/when you return and it happens to be in the fall I highly recommend a trip through the Lüneberger- Heide to see the blooming heather meadows. All of this is near Bergen-Belsen, the camp where Anne Frank died. We also found a great fall festive herbstfest going on in beautiful Celle on our drive that day.

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Exactly...if the weather is unpleasant in which ever regard, it certain plays a role in subtracting from the trip's enjoyment.

Between Luneburg and Bremen I would prefer that to happen in Bremen. That first trip in 1971 saw me in Bremen too, ie, spending a week-end there, staying in the hostel, which was one of the two absolute cheapest HI hostels ever in Germany. Luneburg is a gem, went back there last summer for a few hours in the Zentrum area and "Bei der St Johanniskirche"

I would second the suggestion on Celle, the Bormann Museum is there, of which one of the features is the Hannover military history, on the Hannover Army and its history, such as pertaining to events of 1866, and they were with Wellington at Waterloo.

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One little piece of history I can say regarding seeing Luneburg in 1971...I got there before the town had a McDonalds. The next time in Luneburg was the next trip two years later, which this time I had a simple camera.

In 1973 I also saw the McDonald's in the Zentrum, ie, at the end of Am Sande as you walk through it from one end to the other.

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It crossed my mind today that this is the 48th year since you started traveling to Europe. That's impressive. I bet you've seen a lot of places before they got a McDonalds. :)

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Great report. And I just spent a lot of time watching revolverheld videos on youtube ... Thanks for the diversion. Now I’ve got the chorus of this song running through my head

If my next European trip lands me in ”Hamburg, Berlin, oder Köln” it will be because of this earworm :)

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@ Dave....I only recall Lüneburg when it comes having seen McDonalds exist there, since it so obvious as to its location. Obviously, McDonalds arrived in Lüneburg between July 1971 and July 1973.

In the Lüneburg train station I'm sure you noticed this bakery/cafe eatery to your right as you are heading towards the exit to the street.

Where that cafe/bakery is currently was a feature in German train stations before they were refurbished, remodeled, etc.

That feature was a small restaurant with a bar (obviously), with dark atmosphere, all wood furniture, offering German cuisine and went by a German name...Bahnhofsgaststätte.

These are all gone, ie, a relic of the past. In the last ten years I saw one existing south of Stuttgart, south of Tübingen.