It’s been a long interesting year!
And most of it has centered around Europe!
It started with the shocking disaster of Brexit, terrorism in both Belgium and France, devastating earthquakes in Italy, and ending not only with the horrifying news that Donald Trump, is to be the next president of the United States, but a fatal terrorist action that occured on our very own doorstep of my beloved Berlin. In one of the most culturally vibrant German activities – the Christmas Market.
You really couldn’t make it up!
But have no fear.
We’re stoic, and have a stiff upper lip!
But it hasn’t all been bad. In fact, I had a fabulous summer which I planned and organised. You know the one, Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign, in which I went to a different European country, throughout the summer.
And travelled to these countries by train!
Well, it was certainly a challenge, but also soooo much fun!
This was where I went:
- How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
- Top 9 reasons why Danish food isn’t just smørrebrød, seasonal berries & herbs, but can be awfully tasty!
- How to spend 48 astonishing hours in Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern – On a budget!
- Why you should visit Switzerland, and eat cheese!
- Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!
- How to eat cheaply in Luxembourg!
- Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
- 9 traditional East European things to eat in Slovakia!
I always plan to spend a bit more time in other parts of my adoptive country, but I usually never make it. This time I did!
I wanted to go the seaside, and parts of Northern Germany. Here’s where I went:
Osnabrück is where my husband comes from. Here’s what I wrote about it last year:
- 51 reasons to go to the seaside. In Germany!
- A 5 minute guide to German food. On the Baltic Sea beach!
And then I went to Bremen, but didn’t get around to writing about it ‘cos very soon after, I went to the Philippines and to a secret location, which I later revealed to be Taiwan. So here it is!
Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany, otherwise known as the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen!
It’s a commercial – industrial city, with a major port on the River Weser.
Bremen is part of the Bremen/Oldenburg Metropolitan Region and is, with 2.4 million people, the second most populous city in Northern Germany!
Bremen is a major cultural hub and home to historical galleries and museums, ranging from historical sculptures to major art museums.
I’ve been to Bremen a few times, but I remember the very first time that I visited. I just couldn’t believe that the animal statues that were dotted all over the city, were the animals in the old Grimm folk story – The Musicians of Bremen!
You can imagine how I felt when a German client of mine, told me that he came from Hamelin.
I burst into splutters of laughter!
I soon hung my head in shame when I discovered that not only was Hamelin a real town in Germany, but that also, the fairy tale legend of The Pied Piper of Hamelin actually existed, and is based on a true real event….!
Anyhoo, the German grandparents of “The Tall Young Gentleman” live in a small North German town called Achim, about 16 kms from Bremen, in the valley of the river Weser.
Achim was first mentioned in 1091, as Arahem!
I love spending time with the grandparents as it’s lovely and quiet, and so, you know, quite German!
On this visit, I wanted to discover some more of Bremen, and also go sailing, as grandfather is a bit of an old sailor, and has many tales of times gone by.
In many people’s mind, the image of a grandfather is of an old man, sitting by the fireside, a pipe or cigar in hand, slippers on his feet, port in his hand, and huddled beside the fireside.
Grandfather is nothing like that!
He teaches at the local university, he does volunteer work transporting “the elderly,” did engineering projects in Indonesia, is an ex-army officer, and sails!
This is the type of breakfast spread you can expect in a typical German home! Thank you so much Grandmother!
SAILING IN MARDORF
Mardorf is a district of Neustadt am Rübenberge based in the Hannover Region of Lower Saxony. It’s located on the northern shore of the Steinhuder Lake and within the Steinhuder Meer Nature Park!
Mardorf means “village by the sea” and in 1171, was first mentioned as “Meredorpe.” It’s a small 850 year old seaside village community of just 2,000 people that is really nice and friendly, surrounded by half-timbered houses, oak trees, farmland, and a 6 km long lakeside path used for walking, cycling, and hiking!
The grandparents have been sailing from there into Hannover and Hamburg, for decades, and this time, I chose to go with them!
We had a bit of problem with the engine, so we had to make do with the tiller in the stern instead!
This is how things are done on the Steinhuder Lake.
Such a summer feeling!
And soon it was time to return to Achim.
He won’t admit it, but I think “The Tall Young Gentleman” had a good time!
The next day, we went to the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen!
THE FREE HANSEATIC CITY OF BREMEN!
Bremen is a major cultural and economic hub in the northern regions of Germany, and also home to historical galleries and museums, ranging from historical sculptures to major art museums. In fact, in many parts of the old town, you stumble upon statue after statue! Even though historically, Bremen was known as a working class fishing port, many important manufacturers based their headquarters in the city!
We had a very nice time at the Focke Museum, otherwise known as the museum of history and the history of art, for the city and state of Bremen. In fact, this museum was formed in 1924 by the merger of the museum of industry and commerce and the previous historical museum, and named after Johann Focke, a Bremen privy councillor.
It’s absolutely huge! We spent about 2 hours there, and we didn’t even go to the outside buildings! We only went into the historical rescue boat, where we met an older German who spent his younger years living in England!
He was very pleased to spend a nostalgic afternoon talking about sailing, letting us press all the buttons, and speaking in English lol!
Then we went into various parts of the Old Town. Bremen was undergoing preservation construction work, so it was a little difficult to get decent pictures, but I tried my best!
Statues and sculptures can be found all over the city.
The most famous statue of them all, is the Statue of Roland, erected in 1404! Roland can be found in the market square facing the cathedral. Roland, was a paladin, otherwise known as one of the Twelve Peers, a warrior of the first Roman Emperor Charlemagne, and hero of the Battle of Roncevaux Pass.
Roland is also considered to be the protector of the city of Bremen. Legend has it that Bremen will always remain a free and independent state, as long as Lord Roland stands watch over the city. And just like the ravens in the Tower of London, the legend is taken very seriously such that a second statue of Roland is kept hidden.
Just in case!
One of the highlights of Bremen is Schnoor!
Schnoor is in one of the most famous neighbourhoods in the medieval centre of the city of Bremen, and the only part that remains medieval in character! Schnoor owes its name to old handicrafts associated with shipping as the narrow alleyways between houses, were often associated with occupations or objects. For example Schnoor (String) was so-called, because the area was known for producing ropes, cables, and of course string!
The oldest houses today date back to the 15th century, with most, from the 17th and 18th centuries. Famous for being extremely narrow, Schnoor became one of the poorest parts of Bremen. Luckily, many of the houses are now being preserved and restored.
We went to Bremen in the height of summer and there were street entertainers galore. One chap was even giving away a new brand of Bremen’s most famous beer – Becks. For free!
We only had an afternoon to spend in Bremen, but surely, we’ll be back!
Thank you so much Grandmother and Grandfather Genschow!
Please also note that there is now a Booking.com affiliate link (for the very first time) connected to a few hotels. Please consider using the link, because every time some sort of accommodation is booked via my link I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself! A win-win for all!
Thanks a million!
VISITING BREMEN: 4 MUSICIANS, A SAILING BOAT, AND A GERMAN GRANDFATHER!
This article is not sponsored, and the Mardorf sailing experience, is my very own!
In January, I’ll be going to Holland.
The British Shorts Film Festival will take place from 12th – 18th January, 2017
Berlin Fashion Week will take place from 17th – 20th January, 2017.
At the end of January, I’ll be skiing in my favourite place, Rokytnice nad Jizerou, in the Czech Republic!
December is going to be filled with stuffing!
Have a great festive season, and an amazing Christmas!
Have you ever been to Bremen? Would you go sailing in Germany? Let me know!
See you in Berlin.