Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bremen fair city

Last weekend, we went to Bremen on a group trip. It was well orchestrated by USAC and International Studies Program staffers.

The train trip was interesting because of some of the beautiful country between Luneburg and Bremen. Some fine fameland as well as some forested areas. The train was a fast one and must have been doing near 100 mph in places.

Bremen was a leading Hanseatic city during the middle ages and it really shows in the beautiful old city. In the nineteenth century, the river had silted up and the harbor had to be relocated downriver at Bremerhaven. But the old city was left intact.

A city guide led those of us whose German is too poor on an English-language walking tour. The others went on a German tour. Jurgen, our guide, was a bit of a character and made some subtle political comments along the way. He noted, for example, that the Germans bombed Britain first during WW II. "That is something you should remember - when you send bombs somewhere eventually they come back. Ask us. We know!" Only a couple of buildings in the old city were still standing at the end of the World War II bombing attacks. Bremen made a decision to rebuild the city as it once looked. Many bits and pieces of buildings were resurrected. Some facades were preserved intact while the buildings were burnt out. Some pieces of facades that were on one building are now on other buildings.. The Rathaus, which you can see in the photos, was still standing at the end.

Bremen's position as an important seat for a bishop added to its prominence. The oldest church in Bremen, Our Holy Lady, is nearly 1,000 years old and we were taken into the crypt of the church. You can see one of the photos of Jurgen talking about the murals that are still visible. He noted that people took refuge in the crypt from the Vikings and from the Allied bombing raids.

They center of the old city is very striking and has streetcars running through it. I will provide several photos of the center area of the alt city. Narrow medieval streets run off in all directions. Some of us went on a river trip. It was very industrial, quite a break from medieval Bremen. There were a lot of containers and a huge Kelloggs cereal plant that employed over 900 people. Even a rocket on a launchpad at a facility of the European Space Agency.

I had about an hour of free time to myself and walked along the river where there were a lot of people selling things at a kind of flea market. Then walking down one of the narrow streets, I had a quiet beer in the friendly confines of the Havana Club.


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