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Friday, 5 February 2021

Book IV ~ Chapter 10 ~ Braving Bremen

17-Sep-2020 - 19-Sep-2020

We are now at the third stopover location of our Germany tour. This one has taken us to the state of...

Bremen is the smallest state of Germany. With just over 400km², it is barely half as big as Hamburg, and about the size of the Caribbean island state of Barbados. It also has the lowest population, but by a significantly smaller margin. With almost 700.000 inhabitants, it has about two thirds the population of the Saarland, over twice as much as Barbados, and on a global scale is closest to the Solomon Islands. Thanks to this combination, it should not come as a surprise that Bremen has the third-highest population density of all German states, right after Berlin and Hamburg. With about 1,600 people/km² it's about as densely populated as... huh, Malta. I guess Bremen really does like being compared to island states.

Bremen is also the only state of Germany that has two discontinuous territories on the mainland, with the first city of Bremen proper being divided from the second city of Bremerhaven by a 30km stretch of Niedersachsen ("Lower Saxony"). This curiosity dates back to the fact that Bremen used to be one of the six Free Imperial Cities of the Holy Roman Empire, and in 1827 bought a tract of land from the then Kingdom of Hanover where Bremerhaven was established. It is also home to the legendary Town Musicians of Bremen, but more about them later. It is also one of the three major Hanseatic Cities - together with Lübeck and Hamburg - dating back to the Hanseatic League of the High and Late Middle Age. Though the Hanseatic League contained about 200 communities at its best, only those three were able to uphold their status and independence all the way into the German Empire. The coat of arms of Bremen depicts the silver key of Bremen's patron saint of Simon Petrus on a field of red, which in turn is crowned by a five-pointed golden Margrave Crown adorned with red and green jewels. It's flag is red and white, in accordance with Hanseatic tradition.

Within Bremen we are now within... uh... well... Bremen... as in, the city proper of Bremen, as opposed to Bremerhaven, which makes up for about 4/5 of the state's size, as well as 5/6 of its population. Interestingly, there's even a small area that officially belongs to the city of Bremen within Bremerhaven, which carries the melodious name of "Stadtbremisches Überseehafengebiet Bremerhaven" ("City-Bremish Oversea Harbour Area Bremen Harbour").

And inside the city proper, we are situated in within the district of Neustadt ("New City"), which is located to the south of the Weser.

So much for the city and its history. Now let me tell you about...

The Place

After the excesses of our previous stopovers, this time around we've only rented a room again. It's located within a... uhh... kinda rustic building within the extended inner city of Bremen.

On the inside, a rustic staircase awaits to take us up into the second floor. Have I mentioned that it's just a little bit gloomy in there?

But the room itself is nice and bright, featuring a bed that is definitely not the smallest on this journey...

...even if it kinda sorta has to double as laptop-friendly workspace.

The kitchen, too, is definitely not the worst we've seen on this journey.

However, it does have its own set of peculiarities, such the fact that two of the stove's plates are rendered unusable by what I can only describe as poor design.

Also, the stove has the most peculiar integrated clock: For some strange reason, it always displays just a few minutes after noon, no matter what the actual time is. We've been tried watching it, but you know how it is: A watched clock never resets.

And then, there's also the Netflix Kitchen Version, featuring a lot of underwater shows.

Finally, out to the back, our room has a little balcony overlooking what must clearly be the greenest courtyard I've ever seen.

So much for the place. We should do little more than a bit of shopping on the day of our arrival on account of our arrival having been a good ways into the afternoon, but on our second day we should be on our way...

Skirting the Outskirts

Distance: 27.0km
Ascents: 50m
Duration: 8.5h

For our first stray here in Bremen we should set out to explore along the Weser - Bremen's great river, and one of Germany's longest rivers. Our route should take us mostly through the outskirts of Bremen, to the point where we us almost - but not quite - cross over into Niedersachsen. In fact, at two time during our stray should we get to within only a few meters of the border without actually crossing it.

However, before we get into the greener parts of the city, we still have to walk our way out of the city district that our home base is located in.

Along the way, we come across a couple of interesting restaurants, such as a bar by the name of Fluss-Hexe ("River Witch")... well as the Galileo Pizzeria. I wonder if they serve Galilean Pizzas.

Though we should remain within the city for quite some time yet, our surroundings abruptly change from grey to green as we enter the Neustadtwallanlagen ("New City Wall Facilities"), an approximately 100m wide and 1km long park where the city wall of Bremen once used to stand. In fact, many German cities have a ring of greenery that came into being when the old city walls were razed.

Afterwards, we pass by a little lake named Piepe ("Tweet")...

...and then, before the day is too old, we reach the... well, it's not the Weser, but at least it's the Kleine Weser ("Small Weser"), technically, it's an elongated bay occupying an older riverbed of the Weser, but since there's also a narrow artificial channel connecting it to the Weser from it's otherwise "dead end", one could also argue that it's simply a branch of the river.

We also come past a memorial named "Die Zigarrenmacher" ("The Cigar Makers"), which relates the story of how around 1850 Bremen was deep in the clutches of Öchött'Kjött, God of Vile Vapours and Lung Diseases. Every sixth inhabitant of Bremen was toiling in cigar workshops, often working 12 to 14 hours a day in order to produce up to a thousand cigars a day, which would then be used to spread the plague. Many of the workers wasted away as either a direct or indirect result of the work. The memorial depicts in detail not only the individual steps involved in creating the forerunner of today's more common plague-bringing stick, but also combines authenticity and practicability by including a model of a book that describes the miserable working conditions of cigar makers, but also how they would commonly designate one of their numbers to read to them from newspapers or socialist literature to alleviate the boredom of their monotone task.

From there, we cross over the Kleine Weser via a nearby bridge...

...and then continue further upstream along the other side, passing a very friendly street as we do.

Soon thereafter we reach the Werdersee ("Becomer Lake"), which is actually just a stretch of the Kleine Weser that's a bit wider than average.

It is around there that we leave this particular body of water behind and head further "inland"...

...which soon enough results in us having to scale the incredibly steep and tall Kreiebarg ("Crow Mountain").

However, once at the top, we are rewarded with an amazing view that stretches all the way to the horizon... or at least we would if there weren't all these trees and houses in the way!

Moving on, we soon make our way to the actual Weser...

... and then proceed parallel to it along what I figure is going to be today's field path of the day. This one is actually quite harmless compared to some of the other paths I've put up with.

By the way, we are now within a large expanse of typical German Schrebergärten ("Schreber Garden" = "Allotment Garden") again. In fact, pretty much the entire 3km² big island formed by the two Wesers is made up of Schrebergärten, with the exception of a few dozen hectares of industrial and residental areas near its western end, and about half a square kilometre of nature park at its eastern end. We're currently passing by a bunch of them on a back road by the riverside.

Incidentally, we should soon be entering aforementioned nature park by means of a gate of green.

The Neue Weser ("New Weser") Nature Park was created in the aftermath of the 1981 flood, when in a completely unanticipated event the Weser broke out of its bed and flooded countless Schrebergärten, digging itself a new bed in the process. This was unprecedented since previously Bremen had only had to deal with floods from the sea, while this one originated from upriver and was caused by excessive spring rainfalls in conjuncture with snow melting. As a result, all the seawards-oriented flood guards were completely useless, and the water pretty much just made its own path. Afterwards, the Weser was eventually returned to its original bed. Meanwhile, the new bed it had dug became what is today the Neue Weser Nature Park. It's a level three sanctuary that's completely off-limits for humans, and as such we can only observe the serene beauty of undisturbed nature from its very edge.

The next stop on our stray is the Bremer Weserwehr, a combination of a weir and two locks - one for smaller boats, and one for bigger ships. Interestingly, the lock for smaller boats is completely automated.

We should not actually cross the Weser here, but we're still getting in the middle of the river. With 750km, the Weser is not only the second-longest German waterway, but also the longest river that lies entirely within Germany. Made up from the rivers Werra and Fulda, it originates within the Mittelgebirge in Thüringen and Hessen respectively, runs briefly through Nordrhein-Westfalen ("North Rhine-Westphalia") and then makes its way all the way through Niedersachsen and eventually Bremen. A tiny fraction of its watershed even stretches all the way into the northernmost reaches of Bavaria.

A small tower next to the weir should also provide us with the closest thing to a panorama we should get in the entire city.

Next, we return back to the Schrebergärten area and make our way along a cobblestone road (a rather unusual sight at the outskirts of a city)...

...past a wide, open field that also came into being as a result of the 1981 flood.

It is there that we come across another relative rarity these day: A prop plane taking off from the nearby Bremen airport, that we should yet get closer to over the course of this stray. Specifically, it's a Transall C-160 (thanks to my dear friend Wolf, who is a walking airplane lexicon, for identifying it), a tactical transport plane developed in the 60s that is currently in the process of being replaced with the more modern Airbus A400M. Not many of this type of plane are still in service in Germany, making this an even rarer sight.

By now, we have reached the easternmost point of today's stray. From here, we can make out a number of windmills in the distance, on the far side of the Weser. Again, I wish we had this many windmills back in Bavaria.

From here, we continue on top of flood dam for a bit...

...and soon enough cross aforementioned little artificial channel connecting the Weser with the upper end of the Kleine Weser.

We should still continue along the Weser, which on account of us being just above the weir looks more like an elongated lake here than a river.

Next, we come across a yacht harbour which stands out on account of it having a very thematic derrick named Obelix, which I presume is used to transfer yachts from trailers into the water and vice-versa.

This spot is also notable since it marks the first of out two brushes with Niedersachsen. Though the border runs to the yacht harbour at this point, we could have easily walked across further to the south. However, instead we chose to diminish into the west and remain in Bremen.

After having spent the last three hours in relative greenery, we now return to more urban areas, and more specifically the district of Arsten ("Firston"), where we pass by a decidedly car-free school. I wholeheartedly support that concept! I mean, just imagine how many more kids you can fit into a classroom for each car less! And besides, cars should instead go to driving schools anyway and finally learn how to drive around people without the need for a certified driver.

A little further into town we come across the residence of what I can only guess would be a processional garbage collector, because he sure has three sets of garbage cans. Well, more or less, I think he still needs two yellow bins for plastic and such and one blue bin for paper.

Then, we continue down a literally Narrow Road ("Enge Straße" = "Narrow Road")...

...and arrive at the Gasthof Zur Börse ("Inn to the Stock Exchange"), which is where I had planned to stop over for lunch.

However, unfortunately that stock exchange thing did not go quite as planned, for the inn is not only closed, but very closed to the point where the entire building is already for sale. Guess we won't be having lunch here then.

For Robert this is actually less of a problem since he has a big stomach and large energy reserves. Me being the little fox that I am, however, can only fit so much into my tummy for breakfast and am by now already quite hungry again. However, it can't be helped, and thus we set out westwards through the suburban streets in search of savoury sustenance.

Along the way we get some impromptu collateral socio-cultural education as some of the street names out here not only tell us the last names of people that were probably kinda important sometime, but also volunteer a bit of extra information, such as the first name of the reference person, its lifespan, and why in the name of Dragon a street was named after them.

We also pass the home of a guy who has refurbished his garage to serve as a makeshift hangar for his own personal folding jet... well as a bridge with a very decorative lucky squirrel wall.

In fact, we cross this very bridge, not only getting over a nearby highway, but also getting across the Fleet im Seefelde ("Dike in the Lake Field") in the process.

And what would such a Fleet im Seefelde bee without a lake? So here's the Krimpelsee ("Crimping Lake")!

This, however, should be but a short side-trip into green parks, and before long we find ourselves within a more urban area again...

...which is not necessarily a bad thing, since it means we finally get a chance to find a place for lunch. By now I'm quite famished, and am thus more than happy to stop at an obviously open place by the name of Cafe del Sol ("Café of the Sun").

It turns out to be a nice and roomy locale with plenty of space for everyone to keep their distance in times of the Green Shnolz - not that there are terribly many people here to begin with.

Coming here could not have been a better idea. If the stylish and roomy space was not already enough, then the menu drives it home, featuring amazing over-the-top dishes such as Pizza Schnitzel.

However, today I feel more like a burger, so I settle for the Texas Burger along with a glass of house-made ice tea. Again, I am going to give this place ★★★★★ for presentation! What's more, the food and drink are really tasty, and thus great for re-filling my batteries. The only drawback is that we have to wait for quite some time to get served and then later pay, but I suppose that only means we're getting some additional forced rest before we move on.

I also take the time to use the bathroom, which I note has been made Green Shnolz Conform...

...though I find the decision to cordon off the contact-free air hand dryer maybe a bit questionable.

After our stop at the Cafe del Sol we continue through more greenery...

...and eventually end up at the Vereinsheim "Freie Vereinigung" ("'Free Union' Club House"). Union of what? Dunno. Schrebergärten probably, considering how we apparently ended up right in the middle of a block of them again.

There really is a lot of green in this area. In fact, there is so much green around here that even the brooks are green, which kinda sorta turns them into a really devious trap for inattentive people, and probably young dogs.

By now, we have reached the airport area of Bremen, and at thus the amount of greenery gradually diminishes a bit. However, there's still significantly more foliage around here than in the streets around our home base.

Among others, there's a branch office of MT Aerospace here, which is noteworthy not only for the stylish design of its building, but also for the fact that it seems to have a secret underwater garage in the nearby park. I wonder if that is where they park their Batmobiles.

Said park is located just in front of the airport, and it is also here that I come across a veritable cache of Travel Bugs in a Geocache protected by a giant bird. Such Caches - which are known as Travel Bug Hotels - are commonly found near airports and central stations, and serve as a point of exchange for Travel Bugs, particularly if they have a certain destination. For example, one of the Travel Bugs in here is meant to go to Kenya, so putting it into a TB Hotel near an airport is definitely a good idea. As for my part, I am exchanging a froggy that I found on the Boar Petal (see Interlude ~ Project Petal Part 5 ~ The Tri-day Two-hundred Tour) for the Swordian Martha.

By now, we are also within the reaches of Bremen's tram network again, which makes Bremen one of the few cities that I know of where the airport is connected to the tram network. Also, the tram crossing looks kinda funky on account of the tracks being slightly banked on the curve where it's located, giving the crossing a sorta crooked appearance.

After that, we're back into the green, and back into an area of Schrebergärten. By now I am estimating that Bremen is, like, 50% Schrebergärten or so, making it the Schrebergärten Capital of Germany.

It is here that we pass by something I've been waiting for: The first instance of the legendary Town Musicians of Bremen, depicted as an artwork at the back of a house's garden fence, along with a number of other icons of Bremen, such as its coat of arms and the symbol of its soccer team.

Now, I think I've stalled long with telling you about the legendary Town Musicians of Bremen. It's a famous legend that probably everyone in Germany, and possibly many neighbouring states, will be familiar with. Shortly summed it, it is the story of four outcast old farm animals: A donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster, who set out in search of a new home, intending to go to the city of Bremen and become musicians. En route, they come across the house of a band of robbers, which is where they perform their famous act: Standing on top of one another, rooster on cat on dog on donkey, they break out into a cacophony of animistic sounds, scaring the robbers to death. The robbers flee the premise, and the animals live happily ever after in their new home. The interesting part here is that they never actually get to Bremen, and yet their name stuck. The 1997 movie "The Fearless Four" was also inspired by this legend.

Another notable sight in this area is this improvised drawbridge across the brook. I would not actually want to try it, but it sure makes for good looks.

Not much later, we come across another small river, which this time around goes by the name of Grollander Ochtum ("Spite Land Ochtum"), a side branch of the nearby Ochtum (whatever that name means).

This is particularly notable since this marks our second close approach to Niedersachsen. We could easily cross over by walking across the bridge here an then taking a left turn...

...but instead, we decide to head north, walking along an elevated dam next to the Grollander Ochtum and past a little pond with a particularly colourful sluice house next to it.

Continuing along that path, we eventually reach a major thoroughfare that we can cross by means of an underpass. And my, it's a veritable graffiti paradise down there! Particularly, I notice that there seems to be some sort of turf war going on between someone who likes sad blue foxes, and someone who doesn't.

By now, we are already relatively close to our home base again, and are pretty much wrapping up this stray. Effectively, all we have to do now is walk down the street, which admittedly would be easier if some people if some people knew how to keep their shrubbery in check.

Shortly thereafter, we arrive back at our stay place, quite spent after what was our longest stray up until then. However, on account of it having covered barely any altitude at all, this was still as significantly less strenuous stray than anything we did in Saxon Switzerland (see Book IV ~ Chapter 2 ~ Scaling Saxon Switzerland's Serene Slopes). However, I still feel we have deserved a good meal after all this walking, so let's go straight ahead and continue with...

The Food

Here in Bremen, our days begin with bread and cheese of various consistencies, and sometimes also a bit of Sanddorngelee from Rügen (see Book IV ~ Chapter 6 ~ Roaming Rügen).

Lunch is as usually eaten on the road. Dinner, meanwhile should consist of a number of creative dishes that Robert whips up, including tomato risotto, mushroom and egg risotto, and this one dish that I'm just going to call Hitanuki (飛狸 "Flying Tanuki"), an improvised dish made on the fly by my favourite Tanuki from mushrooms, eggs and eggplant.

Aaaand, I suppose that's already all that's to be said about the food here. Nothing special. Move along. Even so, it is plenty nourishing, and as such the next day we are ready to go...

Through the Middle

Distance: 21km
Ascents: 60m
Duration: 8.00h

This stray should not only have the highest number of Geocaches attempted on our Germany tour, it also breaks my previous record of 16 attempted Geocaches from Morioka (see Book II ~ Chapter 5 ~ A Trip Together). However, since I should only find a little over half of them, it only ranks third in terms of Geocaches found after our first stray in Saxon Switzerland (see Book IV ~ Chapter 2 ~ Scaling Saxon Switzerland's Serene Slopes) and the Numazu Exploration Tour (see Book II ~ Chapter 22 ~ Nutty Numazu). Anyway, today's stray should lead us first into the centre of Bremen, and from there on pretty much wherever the Geocaches lead us. As it happens, that would result in us lengthwise traversing the Bremer Bürgerpark ("Bremen Citizen Park"), looping around the Stadtwaldsee ("City Forest Lake"), and then hike back along a more or less parallel route.

Once again, we set out relatively early and first have to make our way through a few city blocks, this time heading in another direction first.

However, since we're headed for the core of the city, we necessarily have to cross yesterday's route in the Neustadtwallanlagen eventually.

Fortunately, they are still big enough for us to walk different paths, which results in us coming across this Öklo (a portmanteau of Öko-Klo "Eco Toilet").

After that, we enter the Alte Neustadt ("Old New Town"), where we come across murals of various grades, such as this professional retro Disney mural... well as another of them sad blue fox graffiti, this one not crossed out but instead partially covered by the parking lot terms of service, which I suppose means that this fox was here before this became a commercial parking lot.

Eventually, we cross the Kleine Weser once again by means of a pedestrian bridge...

...which runs parallel to a little weir that is remarkable for the ducks grazing on the algae right there on what I imagine must be an extremely slippery slope.

After that, we find ourselves on the extremely narrow spit of the fluvial island surrounded by the two Weser branches. The interestng thing is that due to the tall building front on either side, you can still look down the one road running down it's length without actually realizing as much, but if you head only 20m to either side, you'll find yourself right at one Weser or the other. This area is known as the Teerhof ("Tar Court"), by the way, dating back to the time when this area was dedicated to facilities for caulking ships with tar.

With the Teerhof being so narrow, it doesn't take us long to find a bridge crossing the actual Weser, and this time we even go all the way across it to the northern riverbank.

By the way, do you know of the trend of couples putting engraved locks on bridges as a sign of their love? Apparently, this bridge was really popular for that. Too popular, since the countless locks gradually increased the weight of the bridge to a point where it was becoming a problem. As such, the locks were removed and a "No Locking" sign was put up.

Arriving on the other side, we are now officially in the old town of Bremen, which becomes apparent by many old building with elaborate frescoes... well as a depiction of the Dreaded Windmill Woman of Walle (or whatever the Dragon that is supposed to be).

We zig-zag around a bit in search of Geocaches, and as such return for the Weser for long enough to come across the legendary Pannekoekschip ("Pancake Ship") of Admiral Nelson.

Next, we pass by the St. Martini Church, a striking Gothic-style brick church in the cityscape of Bremen...

...and I also note that Bremen has its own manhole cover design. Still not as elaborate as that of Japanese fishing towns (see Book II ~ Chapter 5 ~ A Trip Together), but better than nothing.

Subsequently, we head for a nearby outdoor-attraction, namely the Böttcherstraße ("Cooper Street"), a street with many historic buildings.

It is about a hundred meters long, and only about 2 meters wide at its narrower passages...

...and right at its entrance there's a restaurant called "Captain Sushi". Oh Divine Dragon, there's just so many things wrong with that!

At its heart, there's a slightly bigger square featuring two wildcats bearing toddlers above a pair of aquaria... well as the Haus des Glockenspiels ("House of Carillon"). Unfortunately, it only starts ringing every full hour at 12:00, so we're a titbit too early for that right now.

Just beyond the Böttcherstraße lies the centre of Bremen with its historic town hall and the Bremer Frauenkirche ("Ladies' Church")... well as the St. Petri Cathedral with its two imposing towers. That makes, what, three huge Gothic brick churches within 400m of one another? Guess you can never have enough of those.

And hidden behind the Town Hall, there's the statue of the legendary Bremen Town Musicians, cast in bronze in their legendary moment for all eternity.

From there, we continue north through the walking mall of Bremen, which is refreshingly empty at this day and hour...

...though nonetheless holds its own surprises, such as a statue of a swineherd with his pigs and dog just standing there squat in the middle of the road like it's nothing. I suppose it beats having a metal pole to prevent vehicle access.

We cross the distinctive spiked northern city moat at the place where the old Herdentor ("Herd Gate") used to stand...

...and continue into the train station district, where guns, bats, knives, bottles and glasses are outlawed from 22:00 to 6:00. So remember kids, if you're gonna bring a gun to a knife fight at a baseball game while drinking wine in the station district of Bremen, do it during the day when it's apparently legal.

After crossing beneath the railway tracks, we arrive at the Nelson Mandela Park where the Kolonialdenkmal ("Colony Memorial") reminds people of the responsibility we as a former colonial power have for the people in Africa which suffered under German colonial rule.

With that, we're actually almost in the Bürgerpark, which officially begins at the Holler See ("Elder Lake") in front of the luxurious Park Hotel. However, interestingly a stay there would be only marginally more expensive than our accommodation on Sylt was.

Subsequently we should be making our way through lots of greenery...

...passing among others curious chandelier-trees, the likes of which I think I've last seen in New Zealand.

We also come across the legendary invisible Amelie-Ziermann-Bank ("Amelie Decorating Man Bench") which you can't see here.

The New Zealandic impression I got from this park grows stronger yet as we approach the centre and come to a pasture with cows... well as sheep, which are currently in the process of teaching a nearby tree a painful lesson about the risks that low-hanging branches face in the presence of herbivores.

And it is not only those animals. The heart of the park does, in fact, contain enclosures for a wide range of animals, including, but not limited to, guinea pigs, colorful ducks, donkeys, ponies, peacocks and deer.

Next, we come across the Meierei im Bürgerpark ("Estate in the Citizen Park"), a rustic old building which these days serves as a restaurant...

...before continuing along an interesting shared walking and riding path.

Also, the route we are walking on right now is clearly part of way too many hiking and cycling tracks.

We now leave the Bürgerpark behind and enter our most adventurous bit today, the Uniwildnis ("University Wilderness"). Though clearly the most rugged terrain that we should make our way through here in Bremen, in nonetheless pales in comparison with a certain adventure we had on Rügen (see Book IV ~ Chapter 6 ~ Roaming Rügen).

And then, we reach the pivot point of today's stray: The Stadtwaldsee, a reasonably-sized expanse of water...

...which for some strange reason is surrounded by alien devices of unclear origin or purpose.

Having made our way around the Stadtwaldsee, we briefly have to make our way along a rather lazy road...

...which directly results in us coming across this rather interesting sign combination of a pole. To this date I still wonder what the artist was trying to tell us with this.

Leaving the lazy road behind us, we strike out into a greener area again, and - how could it be any different - soon find ourselves in an area of Schrebergärten again. Have I mentioned that Bremen seems to consist of, like, 50% Schrebergärten or so?

Not all of them have seen recent use, however. For example, the Orange Cube Garden seems to be in the process of being reclaimed by nature.

And then, there's this faded old sign about the meaning of which I can only speculate. Maybe "No fencing"? But that wouldn't make much sense in a Schrebergarten area where it's basically fence galore, now would it?

We should continue through the Schrebergärten for quite some while at this point, beholding a bunch of bushes bearing berries beside the byroad.

At the edge of the Schrebergärten section there's a house with a very colorful mural, and yet it is also another instance of "What is the artist trying to tell us with that?"...

...followed by a row of equally colorful flats.

We're now back in the city proper, but that still doesn't mean we have to leave the greenery behind us. Bremen generally seems to be a city with lots of green and parks, or maybe I just happened to pick a very green route. One way or another, we may have left the Schrebergärten behind, but we're still walking through rows and rows of trees and grass and bushes.

Turns out we owe this particular park to Jan Reiners. This is not the name of a person, but rather of a narrow-gauge railway that used to operate between Bremen and Tarmstedt from 1900 to 1956. It's nickname originates from a man named Johann Reiners, who played a significant role in the realization of the project in the late 19th century. Today, all that's left of it are several parks such as this one along its former embankment, as well as a number of rather interesting memorials.

By now, it is already well past lunchtime, and once again I have scouted a suitable restaurant in advance, which offers excellent vegetarian food. It is a Syrian place, and features the most progressive menu I have seen to date ("Ich bin eine Speisekarte" === "I am a dish card" ≙ "I am a menu").

Unfortunately, my bad luck with restaurants in Bremen continues, and that place is closed today. Fortunately, however, there is an Indian place literally two houses further down the road, so that's where we end up going instead.

Just like yesterday, that should actually end up making me really happy. Not only is the Mango Chicken that I order super tasty, there are also appetizers to shorten the waiting time, as well as a nice and stylish warmer that fits the beautiful ambience of the restaurant. I wonder if it was the Lady Inari who deliberately guided us to these nice places?

However, maybe the msot remarkable thing is that without even trying, our bill should amount to exactly 30€... for the second time on our trip now (see Book IV ~ Chapter 2 ~ Scaling Saxon Switzerland's Serene Slopes)! What are the odds?

After eating our fill we continue on our way, and soon come across a Geocache unlike any other I've ever seen before. Here, the challenge is not finding it, but rather logging it. And the logbook? It's a phone book! You know, these huge, heavy, yellow books full of names of numbers that do 5 damage per hit which were used to look up phone numbers before the advent of the internet. This one, however, is used to record log entries in the most creative way I've ever seen, surpassing even the driftwood log of Sylt. However, since I can't find anything starting with "Kir" in a reasonable amount of time, I just record my name unter "Kindergarten".

Incidentally, the motif of the Town Musicians of Bremen is deeply ingrained in the city's culture. As such, we frequently come across references to it, be it in the form of pavement insets...

...corporate logos...

...or the legendary Stadtmusikanten-Express ("Town Musicians Express").

By the way, the temperature right now is a pleasant 23°C. Definitely too warm for penguins, and also definitely warmer than it usually is at this time of the year. In fact, we've had some crazy luck with the weather on our entire tour thus far, with not a single rainy day, and comfortable temperatures all around. Another thing to thank the Lady Inari for, I suppose.

Anyway, moving on. Next, we come by another very interesting and improvised art installation that somehow looks like somebody just tied whatever was left over from his last move onto a tree...

It is about then that we make our closest approach to the Fernmeldeturm Bremen ("Telecommunication Tower Bremen"), which sadly is not accessible to the public. And even if it was, neither Robert and I very much feel like being in an enclosed space with too many people in times of the Green Shnolz if we can avoid it. The train rides are enough of a risk already.

And only a little bit further along the way, in a courtyard park of sorts, we come across a fantastically fluffy and orange cat, which I would love to just pick up and carry home with me. However, I'm sure it already has a loving owner around here somewhere, and now that I've got my own place it'll be only a matter of time before I have my very own feline furballs at the Fox Loft.

Moving on, we come across the the crossroads of mayors...

...and before long arrive at the northern Weser promenade...

...where the legendary Rainbow Warrior of Greenpeace lays at anchor. Come to think of it, I've said "legendary" a lot in this chapter, now haven't I? So let's take a break from that and instead call this one "The Fabled Rainbow Warrior of Greenpeace".

By now, we are already quite close to our stay place again. However, since we still have some time left we decide to make a short side trip to the nearby Focke-Garten ("Foresail-Garden"), a remnant of the Bremen city wall that has been turned into a little park. Originally, there used to be a museum here, but after that was destroyed by WWII, the area was instead turned into the park it is. The museum was called the Focke-Museum after its founder Johann Focke, which is why today this park is know as either the Focke-Garden or Museum-Garden.

Moving on, we come across a cute little spray-on graffiti of a fox and a wolf...

...and then we cross the Weser once again, this time around by means of the Stephanibrücke ("Stephani Bridge").

In fact, we are crossing both Wesers simultaneously this time, since this bridge is downstream of the Teerhof, the last piece of land separating the Kleine Weser from its bigger brother. We can actually see it in the distance, which once again drives home just how narrow the Teerhof is.

At the far end of the bridge, we come across the possessions of a person who obviously made this place his or her home, and I am suddenly very happy that I have a good education and a job that allows me to go pretty much wherever I want as long as I stay reasonable about my expenses.

Drawing closer to our home base, we nonetheless stray around for a bit longer, and thus come across a few more curiosities, such as a a jetty for road cruisers...

...or a shop selling among other things cups with attitude.

But after that, we finally return to our home base again, concluding our second stray through Bremen. This is all we should do here, which brings us to...

The Retrospective

Despite being just a little bit shabby, this place was still considerably better than, say, the Rietzschgrund in Bad Schandau (see Book IV ~ Chapter 2 ~ Scaling Saxon Switzerland's Serene Slopes), even if Robert is of differing opinion. We had our on room, which sadly lacked a laptop-friendly workspace, but was fine otherwise. The beds were comfy, but the bathroom was shared. There was a free washing machine, as well as free WiFi, even it was sometimes kinda unreliable. Some basic food supplies were available in the kitchen, and hey, kitchen! If we hadn't just had pizza back in Sylt, we might have used this chance to cook up another one. The atmosphere was okay, but nothing special and there were good shopping options nearby. The temperature was comfortable as well. Finally, the price was more than adequate. I'd even go so far as call it too cheap. At only 16€ per night for each of us, I really can't complain at all. This place would probably have been worth about 20€ per night and nose.

The Road Ahead

Our next tour should lead us to the final missing cardinal point scheduled for this journey, the westernmost point of Germany. To get there, we would travel to a little town north of Aachen that bares the slightly lewd name of Geilenkirchen ("Horny Churches"), but that is a tale for another time, so stay tuned for more Tales from the Travelling Fox.

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