Bremen City Tour

It’s been a little while since I’ve written about my trip to Germany & Paris that I took with my parents in October. There’s still Cologne, a Rhein cruise, and Paris to tell you about! If you are new here or need to catch up, have a look at these posts:

Germany & Paris in One Suitcase

Relax… You’re on a Vineyard

The Night Before My Hangover

A Party to Remember

* * * * *

My parents and I, having partied the night away at my aunt and uncle’s wedding anniversary bash, rolled out of bed the next morning in hopes of grabbing a few chaise lounges by the pool. Ah, but there was no time to lie out on chaise lounges. Besides, there was no pool.

Our weekend in Bremen was still in full swing. Gudrun planned a jam-packed day of sightseeing in the city for all of us partygoers. The schedule included a walking tour, a boat cruise, and a city hall wine cellar tour. (Yes, you read that correctly. The city hall has a wine cellar. Large enough for an hour long tour.)

Just outside city hall is a statue depicting the Bremen Town Musicians. The story of the farm animals who journey to Bremen in search of a better life is a fairytale by the Brothers Grimm. While waiting for our wine cellar tour to begin, we posed for a few snapshots. A crowd surrounded the statue making it difficult to snag a solo shot. (Hence the two munchkins with us in our picture.)

Have you ever read the tale of the Bremen Town Musicians? Here’s the short n’ sweet version from Wikipedia:

A donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster, all past their prime years in life and usefulness on their respective farms, were soon to be discarded or mistreated by their masters. One by one they leave their homes and set out together. They decide to go to Bremen, known for its freedom, to live without owners and become musicians there.

On the way to Bremen, they see a lighted cottage; they look inside and see four robbers enjoying their ill-gotten gains. Standing on each other’s backs, they decide to perform for the men in hope of gaining food. Their ‘music’ has an unanticipated effect; the men run for their lives, not knowing what the strange sound is. The animals take possession of the house, eat a good meal, and settle in for the evening.

Later that night, the robbers return and send one of their members in to investigate. He sees the Cat’s eyes shining in the darkness and thinks he is seeing the coals of the fire. He reaches over to light his candle. Things happen in quick succession; the Cat scratches his face with her claws, the Dog bites him on the leg, the Donkey kicks him and the Rooster crows and chases him out the door, screaming. He tells his companions that he was beset by a horrible witch who scratched him with her long fingers (the Cat), an ogre with a knife (the Dog), a giant who had hit him with his club (the Donkey), and worst of all, the judge who screamed in his voice from the rooftop (the Rooster). The robbers abandon the cottage to the strange creatures who have taken it, where the animals live happily for the rest of their days.

The animals are almost always photographed from the side, but I liked this angle the best:

(Isn’t that a funny looking cat? It looks more like a ferret.)

With the obligatory tourist shots taken, the tour guide rounded us up and took us down into the cellar.

To be honest, I don’t remember much of the tour guide’s spiel. That’s because I was being a little delinquent, scurrying around and lagging behind, grabbing shots of weird stuff like this monkey in the chandelier:

And this dragon(?) carving:

The coolest part of the whole tour was the Schatzkammer.

I couldn’t even tell you if there were wine bottles in there. There had to have been! But I was too enamored with the nifty lighting effects on the door to pay attention to what was inside. Those are my cousins Patrick and Britta and her boyfriend Fabian peering through the locked door.

Back up on ground level, the Rathaus looked lovely in the afternoon sun.

After the wine cellar tour, we had to speed-walk through town to make it onto the boat in time for the harbor cruise. Lazy me, I took zero photos on the cruise. But the walking tour of the Schnoor was my favorite part of the day anyway.

The Schnoor is a little quarter of Bremen with tiny cobblestone paths and skinny houses.

A few hundred years ago (don’t pressure me for dates here, I’m no history buff) Bremen was a big shipping port. It also manufactured many of the goods need for the industry itself. The passages between the houses were named after the items produced in that area. Schnoor means “string.” A few streets over you’d find Wieren, meaning “wire,” for wire cable and anchor chain.

Walking through the Schnoor made me feel like a character in a storybook. Actually, more like a trespasser on a movie set. The little alleyways were impeccable. Picture perfect flower boxes hung outside the windows. Cobblestones set in concentric patterns. A bunch of old men, obviously extras who were cast as café patrons in said movie, looked so natural sitting at the tables.

I kid. But how photogenic they are!

Thanks to Gudrun for organizing such a splendid tour of Bremen! ☼

A Party to Remember

If you’ve read this, you know about the relaxing days my parents and I spent on a vineyard in Germany. And this, gives you a taste of how much I drank on said vineyard.

The stay at the vineyard, in fact, was a bonus. The reason we decided to travel to Germany in the first place was to celebrate this:

The 50th Wedding Anniversary of my great-uncle and great-aunt, Jürgen and Marianne. (Jürgen is my Omi’s brother.)

Their children, Gudrun and KarlHeinz, organized the big bash. It was so well-planned and so fancy! I felt like I was at an actual wedding reception.

There was dancing,

a four-course dinner (The trio of mini desserts was my favorite!),

my name “in German,”

a couple of random people,

(kidding, those are my ‘rents)

fireworks for the guests of honor,

and even an opera singer!

Relatives from all over Europe and from the US (that’s me and the ‘rents!) traveled to Germany to join in the festivities. Since not everyone spoke German, translations of the speeches were projected onto a screen in English, French and Dutch.

And there’s another technological feat:

Omi unfortunately could not make the trip to Germany to celebrate her brother’s anniversary. Even though she wasn’t actually there, thanks to Skype, she still could attend!

She sat at the head table.

Lots of people came by to say hello. Here is my second cousin Patrick and his girlfriend Kati having a chat with Omi.

She was even introduced to the entire party.

I sat at a table with my great-aunt Christa (Omi’s and Jürgen’s sister) and her husband, my great-uncle Heinz.

On the other side of the table sat Dieter (Christa’s and Heinz’s son), his wife Ingrid, and my parents (involved in what is clearly some riveting conversation).

QUIZ: How is Dieter related to my mom?

Ahhh, made your brain hurt, didn’t I?

They’re cousins. Dieter, my mom, Gudrun & Karlheinz are all first cousins.

Now, Britta here is Dieter’s daughter, so that makes me and Britta second cousins.

And here’s the Italian opera singer again. He was fantastic. I wish you could have heard him sing, Omi!

The party was an amazing reunion of far-flung relatives. Just a handful spoke fluent English, so my mom and I spoke with whoever we could in our hack-job German. It might not have been pretty, but it was wonderful to be able to understand each other.

When’s the next big party, Gudrun? Let me know–I’l be there. ☼